Samantha graduated from the SMBI Master's Program in 2015, and wrote her integrative project on the intersection of poetry and spirituality. Prior to graduate school, Samantha's background was in theater and Waldorf early childhood education. She is currently pursuing an MSW at the NYU Silver School of Social Work, and is expected to graduate in 2017. Going forward, she hopes to bridge the worlds of spirituality, psychology, education and social work.
Born in the year of the dragon and hailing from Berkeley, CA, I came to the East Coast for college. My undergraduate studies were at Smith College and then Hunter College in NYC, where I received a BFA. After much bicoastal travel and adventure, I have settled back in Brooklyn near amazing family and friends. I work as a freelance editor and spend time on writing and art projects (I am developing some children’s books, which deal with the tricky and magical business of growing up). I also study yoga and other healing practices and am currently in a 200-hour yoga teacher training at a center that emphasizes breath-based, therapeutic yoga.
I'm thrilled to be joining such an incredible community of people this summer and so very excited to make new relationships, explore new pieces of my own experience and learn from educators who are so passionate about Spirit Mind Body connection.
After living in Chicago for most of our lives, my husband and I spent a few crazy years in Los Angeles then finally to Fort Collins Colorado where we've I've been living the dream for almost 10 years. We have three young boys, 2 crazy dogs and one lazy cat. I have my own Energy Healing and Intuitive Guidance practice which has taught me more about the resilience of the human spirit than I ever thought possible. I am passionate about art, theater, dance. I love to write and garden and yoga. My absolutely favorite thing in the whole world is taking a walk in the mountains. It has all the healing properties of a great massage, therapy session and yoga class combined. For some people it's the ocean. For me it is the mountains.
I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to live and learn in New York City for three weeks. I am looking forward to every second of this experience!!
Hi Everyone! I grew up just north of New York, in the village of Dobbs Ferry, on the Hudson River. After graduating from Wesleyan University in 2011, I tested a call to ministry with the Episcopal Service Corps at the University of Louisville, where I worked as a student chaplain. There, while counseling students, I developed an interest in the occupational stress and spiritual well-being of clergy members. My mentors worked nearly 50-hour weeks, yet had little to no time for self-reflection or to vent their own psychological and spiritual anxieties. By the end of my service year, I realized my professional interests were not about solving theological problems, but psychological ones. I wanted to help those who helped others—a priest’s priest. I am now interested in pursuing a career in clinical or counseling psychology, researching treatments to reduce occupational stress and spiritual insecurity in the ministerial profession. I hope to begin doctoral studies in the near future, and that through my future work in the field of psychology, mindfulness, and spirituality, I can promote positive spiritual change and mitigate the apparent divide between psychology and religion.
Aside from my academic and professional interests, the word that best describes me is “nerd.” I love all things Sondheim-related (Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Company) and I enjoy spending time singing-along to opera, watching Game of Thrones, and exploring museums in New York, especially in the summer. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to engage with other students, similarly interested in the intersection of psychology and spirituality. I can’t wait to meet all of you in person this June, and share in this incredible experience!
What if you saw in every other eyethe desire to be loved?
What if you saw in every other eye
the desire to be accepted?
What if you saw in every other eye
the desire to be as they are in this world?
Everyone you meet has a story
unfolding into the next unfolding moment.
An inner wanderer on a journey in this
Have you mastered the language of your heart?
Tell me the thousand languages it speaks,
and how it murmurs heart beat after heartbeat.
This divine vessel capable of wild manifestations,
this life force pulsating from within.
Tell me do you feel it?
The physical and non-physical world are weaving into union
at all times.
This great mystery
like a yarn spiraling from within and all around me.
Hello! My name is Meriah and I recently graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience. I grew up in southern California with a loving and eccentric psychic mother who inspired my quest to develop greater life meaning through spiritual practice. Along with mindfulness meditation, I center myself by practicing yoga and pilates, hiking, and meeting new people. With a lifelong passion for the fusion of neuroscience and spirituality, I am excited to further my spiritual and intellectual growth at TC. I dream of the days where I am obtaining my PhD in Clinical Psychology, doing my own research, and beginning to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
After graduating, I embarked on a six-month adventure to Thailand, where I lived in the heart of Bangkok teaching English to third and fourth graders. I went there to enhance my understanding of meditation and spirituality by living amongst a strongly Buddhist culture. Further developing my own spirituality in the midst of a huge developing city posed many challenges—yet soon transformed into synchronistic opportunities that revealed a deeper spiritual path to me. My experiences have shown me that we are truly interconnected to each other and the world in seemingly mystical ways that science is still catching up with. I am grateful to be entering into this field at a time where science and spirituality are at the forefront of a transformation. I still have so much to learn and I look forward to all that is to come in my journey as I pursue my passion with other like-minded inspiring individuals.
In 2013, Matt serendipitously read a book that set a hero's journey in motion. Fearlessly, he left behind a personal training business, holistic health club, family and friends behind in the U.K, as he made his dream of living in NYC a reality. From East Coast to West Coast, from the Pacific highway and the Na Pali Coastline to the Yukatan Rainforest and the fault lines in Iceland; from Kauai to Johannesburg, and every sea, mountain, cave and centoté in between. A serial pilgrim, and a love for people that exudes from every pore; Matt finds solace in the waves and the mountains, with a pen in his hand, and flourishes when healing and mentoring others. Now after graduating Matt plies his trade as a mentor, offering advice to others on how to become the fearless warrior within.
It’s fitting that I’m writing this on Mother’s Day, my favorite day of the year; a day that I get to celebrate my good fortune of being the mother of three amazing children. My name is Jan Fielder and I am incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a stay at home mom for the past 23 years! My children have been my greatest source of joy and have taught me life’s most important lessons. What a journey it has been and continues to be. I am a Life and Wellness Coach. I work with individuals and families who want to mange their stress and anxiety without medication by incorporating mindfulness and spiritual practices into their lives. It is my vision that one day spiritual healing will be an acceptable alternative therapy for those suffering from mental illness. It is my passion to help people find inner peace so they can be their best self and face each day with hope. I was drawn to this program because of the struggles my family endured while attempting to get appropriate help for my son who struggled with emotional problems. After years of traditional therapy including alarming amounts of medication with little or no relief, I finally realized that there was nothing a pill or talk therapy could do for my son. I realized that the healing had to come from within. By incorporating mindfulness practices into his life, my son has been able to find peace and healing. His story, our family story has inspired me to give hope and healing to those who may be suffering as we did for so many years.
More about me…I love to hike and cross country ski. I’m committed to overcoming my fear of mountain biking this summer!! I feel most at peace in the mountains. I believe that truth is power, that we are all here for a special purpose and that each person we meet is our teacher and student. I can’t wait to meet all of you!!
Lauren Foley, originally from Rhode Island, is a first-year master’s student, specializing in General Psychology and concentrating in Spirituality Mind Body in the department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. She received a BA in Political Science from Villanova University in 2011. Her interests are in holistic wellness through the integration of mind, body, and spirit, including such practices as yoga and meditation as well as nutrition.
In addition, Lauren enjoys traveling and the heightened awareness that results from experiencing other cultures, their cuisine, and their way of life. Working as a tour guide, Lauren spent one year in Barcelona, leading American students throughout Europe. She also spent five months living with a family in Salamanca, Spain learning Spanish and taking courses at the University of Salamanca. She now inhabits New York City’s Upper West Side and is looking forward to furthering her knowledge and understanding of spirituality and psychology at TC Columbia’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute this upcoming summer.
My participation in the SMBI marks a beautiful intersection of my two largest passions: educational justice and yoga. For the past 10 years I have worked in the educational sector as a middle school teacher in the south Bronx and provider of after school programs in under served communities throughout NYC. In 2010 I took a transformative trip with my mother to Peru where I was introduced to yoga and mindfulness. My hope is to provide yoga and mindfulness programs in underserved communities. To me, yoga is a social revolution that has potential to be positively impactful.
Personally, my life has been an adventure marked with blessings and challenges that have shaped who I am to my core. My childhood was marked by challenging relationships and self doubt which ultimately fueled my passion for social justice and community service. The pain I experienced motivated me to dedicate my life to help others. Yoga provided me with a gateway to my true self. Yoga has helped me see value in who I am, my experiences, and the connection to all those around me. Imagine, if the power of yoga was shared in a way that would promote social justice? I believe the impact would be astounding. I am so excited and looking forward to this next step in my journey.
Hi. My name is Jennifer Gatto. I was born and raised in Boston. I am the eldest of four girls and have a deep appreciation for my Italian roots. My escapades thus far have included studying international affairs as an undergraduate and working at an international development research center at Tufts University before making my way to NYC about 8 years ago. Since then I have been working at UNICEF, the UN agency that works on children’s issues, in various roles from emergencies to change management and most recently in the Office of the Executive Director. What drives me the most is my belief that every life matters and that dignity is a human right. I have always been fascinated with other cultures, languages, learning about the world. I am a soft-spoken introvert, gentle and very intuitive. I love hearing people’s life stories, guiding and advising others, and I am a really good listener. I am doing my best to live to a happy, healthy and spiritual life and I hope to be able to inspire others to do the same in way that is right for them. I am really looking forward to joining the program, learning and continuing on my own spiritual path and participating in this new community.
What I dig: hanging with my husband Leo, women’s health and wellness, travel and exploration, alternative medicine and healing modalities, yoga and meditation, creative reuse and thrifting all things design, cooking, eating, enjoying meals with the ones I love, Brazilian music
Wish list: to become a speaker, activist, and guide for soulful living, well-being warrior, and expert on the mind-body-spirit connection.
Tingting Huang is the co-founder of Teach For China, a Chinese non-profit organization that seeks to eliminate educational inequity in China by bringing inspired educators and leaders to under-resourced communities. She initially started her journey with Teach For China in 2008, when she supported the founder and CEO to initiate policy research and observational trips to the Chinese countryside. She also played a role in garnering the organization's initial funding. Since then, Tingting has led the establishment and maintenance of the relationship with the local government and laid the foundation for TFC’s short-and long-term impact on students and the education system more broadly. Before Teach For China, Tingting worked as a Mandarin teacher at the Inter-University Program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.
Tingting is interested in and currently exploring mindfulness theory and practice and the interconnectedness of the body, mind and spirit. She'd like to connect with individuals with similar interests.
I was born in Japan and raised in Toronto, Canada. In 2013, I completed my B.Sc. in Biology and Psychology, with a focus on the treatment of mood disorders. In addition to my various experiences in clinical research, I recently became more engaged in clinical practice at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity of working with individuals undergoing Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), which relies heavily on mindfulness practices in the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. This experience has opened my eyes to the invaluable benefits of mindfulness practices and self-acceptance; and heightened my eagerness to explore the applications of spiritual practices in therapy. I enjoy learning about the world around me, and more importantly, I am happy that I’ve discovered my passion for clinical psychology.
I’m a big foodie. I love to cook from inspiration rather than a recipe, experiment with healthy alternatives, and practice food photography. Some of the other things I enjoy are biking, hiking, walking in the rain, and reading. I'm very much excited to move to NYC, and looking forward to meeting you all!
I was 59 when I took this selfie. Together on June 26 we will celebrate my 60th dance around the sun! I am writing to you from my small home in hilly Vermont. I spent my childhood on Long Island dreaming of living in New England, that sound of that alone softened me. Today on my walk I silently celebrated the arrival of spring while noticing the trillium, the trout lilies, and the Jack-in-the-Pulpit. A hefty chunk of my day has been tapping away developing an Individualized Educational Plan for one of my students. For the past fourteen years I have been a Special Educator in a public school. I have served my time. As I begin the journey with you I will be continuing a path I started on in 2003. Mindful Education.
I have had several lessons in impermanence over the past few years, and with the lessons I have decided that it’s time for me to let go of a job that was dragging me. I believe in learning communities and that is what brought me to the program at Columbia, engaging with you as I plan and develop a mindfulness program to bring to schools. This will not be my first jump into the water I have been a student of mindful education for several years, and it all began with offering yoga to students in 2003. I look forward to meeting y’all on the 23rd of June, until then may you find ease in each day.
Hello! My name is Erika M. Nelson. I’m thrilled about being part of this exciting program and looking forward to getting to know everyone!
I currently teach German Studies and Humanities at Union College in Schenectady, NY but I also live in Dallas, TX (when I’m not teaching) where I continue to pursue my interests in dance, spirituality, and massage and bodywork. I have spent much of my life navigating between different worlds, so it seems only natural that I have spent much of my life exploring the Orpheus myth. The mythological figure of Orpheus was after all a great mediator, able to bridge both upper and lower worlds and travel safely to the underworld and back, thanks to the power of his poetry and song. The challenge lay in bringing others with him! My previous graduate work was marked by two significant, yet separate educational tracks, consisting of a progressively modern, yet traditional education in German Studies, literature, myth, and 20th century poetry on the one hand and a self-initiated extensive exploration into the spiritual worlds and wisdom traditions of shamanism, religions, healing arts, dance, dream, movement, energy, spa, and sound on the other. For years, I was lost, trying to figure out where my place was in one of the worlds, but then I came to embrace and cherish my unique path as one that mediates these worlds. My hope is to help others realize this earlier in their lives, so that they might shine in their own unique way.
May our circles of play crossover,
creating a space to share in moments
of breathing and awareness of the other?
The me of me is drawn to the you of you, in joy
of compassionate listening to the we.
What I offer is artplay, life pieces of tangible objects
and contemplation puzzled together, paintings and installations created to nurture spiritual insight in action. I can share this in an actively quiet way, or be a listener.
Also, while walking with you in imagination I am smiling already because infinite examples of nature’s generative spirit can teach us, as it has guided wisdom seekers of old.
I am grateful to be in the company of scholars
and fellow students alike in our united but unique
paths, to learn from all our experiences together
in our cohort of lights. Such a power and a tender seed growth in this transformative us!
For over 25 years Susan Reardon has worked as a consultant and entrepreneur in the Wellness Industry guiding individuals into living more comfortably within their own bodyminds, empowering them with critical tools to navigate their inner and outer worlds in a balanced way. Susan is receiving her M.A. Degree in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University concentrating in Spirituality and Mind Body Practices (May 2016) and also holds an M.A. degree in Physical Education/Exercise Physiology from Adelphi University. In addition, she is a certified Yoga Therapy Practitioner and Spiritual/Energy Healer.
Upon being confronted with her own physical and life challenges, Susan searched deep within herself both emotionally and physically to find her own answers not only to the question, “Why do I feel this way?” but “Who Am I?” and “How do I experience peace in my life?” Susan utilized her body as an entryway to her own psycho-emotional inner landscape and spirituality. Today, she is passionate about teaching others the process of spiritual development both theoretically and experientially. Currently she is a Spiritual Mentor in private practice and a Teaching Assistant at Columbia University for Dr. Judith Miller in the course “Spiritual Development Across the Lifespan” which has further fueled her interest in academia and the pursuit of an adjunct professorship within higher education. Her research interests include understanding the special needs of survivors of complex childhood trauma who are looking to take a Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey.
Maria Ryan is a born and raised New Yorker. She graduated Dartmouth with a degree in Psychology and Literature and then completed Harvard’s Post Baccalaureate Pre-Medical program. However, overpowered by a deep and soulful longing to be creative, she chose not to apply to medical school. Instead (to her mother’s dismay), she spent the next 15 years working (slaving) in the film industry where she was a (much-abused but dedicated) high level assistant to prominent (egomaniacal but wildly talented) film producers and directors. Maria has many fun (star-studded) and interesting (have you ever had seven hours to get your boss into Russia without a visa?) tales of Hollywood shenanigans, and has honed a remarkable (useless in other arenas) professional skillset (including making impossible dinner reservations, finding hot- not warm, mind you, but hot- cappuccinos on remote Thai islands, and booking private planes in Cannes at 5am). She is now thrilled (and her mother is even more thrilled) to be turning her attention back to her original pursuit of working in health, healing and spirituality.
Maria is a life-long passionate student, reader and seeker of spiritual truth. She is really interested in the efficacy of meditation and mindfulness, and in the science of happiness. She is endlessly fascinated by the potential for healing and personal growth. And she is very excited to meet all of you and begin this program together.
When I started out as a nurse, I found many things very unappealing. Bleeding, for starters, always made me feel a little light-headed. Vomiting made me queasy especially if it occurred soon after I ate; an empty stomach made it a little easier to endure. Needles never brought with them a sense of ease. The smells, sounds, sights of a hospital were not very pleasing. There were days that I wondered why I dreamt of being a nurse since I was in second grade. There was one thing I knew I loved about working with patients and that was helping them with their thoughts. Do you remember the video game Pac-Man? Well, I would coach my oncology patients to visualize the chemotherapy as Pac-Man and the Pac-dots that Pac-Man was eating were their cancer cells. AHHHH! They could do that. That gave them some power over something they felt they had very little power over: their disease. They were soothed!
In 1983 a patient came into my life that would forever change me. She was given a prognosis of 2 months. Alicyn was 33 years old and had a 2 year old son. Despite what the doctors told her, her intention was to raise her child and her intention turned out to be more powerful than the disease. Alicyn lived eighteen years. Since the time she died, I have been on a journey that is still crystallizing as I write this. I studied the mind, body and spirit connection for many years concentrating mostly on the Law of Attraction and have applied the principles in my own life. I became a certified life coach two years ago so that I could help others align with their inner well-being. My focus is to deepen my understanding of the mind, body and spirit connection. I believe that the students and professors will be my co-creators in this journey and I look forward to what will be discovered on the way!
This program starts a new chapter for me. I have been searching for what the next phase of my life would be for quite some time and when I read about this Master’s Program last winter, I knew I had found my next step. I first came to New York City 17 years ago after graduating from Harvard with a BA in Psychology. I came to the city with the naivete of a small town girl from NH. But, with the grit and exuberance of a young person, I embraced city living.
I pursued a career in finance for much of my 20s, with a front row seat to the incredible volatility of the Internet craze, along with the utter heartbreak of September 11 2001. Despite that heartbreak, 2001 was a transformative year for me. I got married, left Wall Street and attended Parson’s School of Interior Design. My primary occupation for the past 10 years has been raising my children, Caia and Quinn. I also served on a non-profit Board, a responsibility that was rewarding both personally and professionally. My job description as a parent is to raise happy, conscious citizens of the world. I have found a wonderful intersection between parenting and mindfulness, and it is this intersection that allows me to be present with my family in the midst of this busy life in New York City.
I never thought I could experience significant paradigm shift in my outlook about life and the world in a very short amount of time. Having graduated with degrees in Accounting and Political Science, I was convinced that my place is in the financial industry. After all, I could never imagine the world without hard data, numbers and excel spreadsheets. I derived comfort in working with well established concepts, defined parameter, and black and white results. However, I slowly realized that lack of “human” and “heart” aspect of finance as well as cut – throat environment of the investment banking industry can be detrimental to one’s mental, emotional and therefore physical well being. I existed on a daily basis without experiencing certain emotions such as excitement, compassion and love, those feelings which made me human. It was time to push the pause button and do some soul searching. It was time for self-reflection and introspection. It surely was time for a detour to the unknown and undefined.
For the first time, I listened to my heart and discovered my soul’s desire which synchronistically led me to this lovely SMBI cohort program. I’m looking forwards to be a part of this one of a kind cohort where I will have a chance to think outside the box of well defined parameters and concepts and share a journey with like minded people.
Giuliana Cortese is a warm and energetic spirit. A Washington DC native, she graduated from Georgetown University last spring with a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and a minor in Social and Political Thought. She held internships at Human Rights Watch, Humane Society International as well as on Capitol Hill. However, she felt most alive while teaching English to refugee families, participating in an Indian dance group and writing her thesis on the limits of personality testing and the immeasurability of the human spirit.
Giuliana almost went to law school, but took a break instead. She is currently working at an Indian restaurant, building a blog and writing stories. She is an active yogi, enjoys hiking adventures and has recently taken up qigong. Giuliana is beyond excited to participate in this graduate program as the next step in her journey.
My name is Lauren Crowley, I am twenty-two years old and currently living in Berkeley, California. I spent most my life in California and Texas but moved frequently growing up. I am excited for my next move to New York City and for the next chapter of my life. At UC Berkeley I studied sociology which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve always been very interested in psychology but didn’t end up pursuing it as an undergraduate because the classes being offered were a little too on the neuroscience and cognition side for me. So I’m very excited for this program, as it focuses on the spiritual side of the psyche.
Many of my interests are things that bring me closer to the spiritual side of life. Astrology is one of my greatest passions and I hope to weave it into my education. Beyond astrology, my pleasure reading includes anything about religion, mythology, extraterrestrials, magick, and psychic development. I like to write and spend time in nature when I need to recenter myself. My less spiritual interests include reality television, eating, dyeing my hair, and hanging out with my friends. I hope to be in a profession one day where I can teach people or counsel them on spirituality, relationships, and sexuality.
Growing up in a family of eight, there were often many times of complete chaos, confusion, and drama to say the least. At a young age, I discovered a way to effectively cope and deal with the happenings that go along with being a part of a large family. I found relaxation techniques, painting, art, and music have helped me through some of the most major and difficult moments in my life. Through my college career and studies as a psychology student, I found the connection between psychology and my love for art and music and began incorporating and piecing together ways in which the three corresponded. After hearing what is now my favorite song, “Ghostwriter” by RJD2, for the first time I began to realize that music and art are not so black and white. People project what they feel, and what they think onto whatever it is they are looking at or listening to. This amazing technique of using art and music as therapeutic measures, I find to be extremely interesting and effective in the psychology world. Incorporating spirituality into this mix could only strengthen the process and the connection people can feel to music, art, and relaxation techniques.
Being so entwined with the psychology world, I am literally watching the field grow and expand on a daily basis. I see areas for innovation, change, and development and I want to be apart of that. I am eager to begin my studies at Teachers College, to change and improve people’s lives by introducing them to the methods they may have never explored before. It is true that music and art are not so black and white, neither are therapeutic techniques; incorporating different methods could be the answer for many, and that is where I want to come in and make a difference.
Suza Scalora, M.A., is a first-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at Columbia University, Teachers College focusing on the role of spirituality and consciousness in well being and flourishing. She received her M.A. in Psychology in Education with a concentration in spirituality mind-body from Columbia University, Teachers College. Suza is interested in developing evidence-based psycho-spiritual interventions to alleivate pervasive negative self-talk and rumination. Her current research interests include intergenerational self-talk and the patterns and dimensions of love. She is the Coordinator of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute Wellness Center at Columbia University, Teachers College.