Core Faculty

Mar Aige

Mar Aige, BFA, MA, is a painter, art educator, and yoga teacher. She received her BFA from Universitat de Barcelona and her MA from Universitat Pompeu Fabra. At the Nalanda Institute, Mar studied meditation with Geri Loizzo, and completed the Yoga, Mind & Spirit and CBRT programs. She has assisted the institute in administrative, translation and facilitation roles; and recorded meditation audios and yoga videos. Mar started teaching art to children over 20 years ago in museums and schools. Inspired by progressive education approaches like Reggio Emilia, Montessori, and Waldorf, she has taught at the Guggenheim Museum, The Met Cloisters, St. John the Divine, and the Brooklyn Historical Society. She started The Rubin Museum’s Family Programs department, which she managed for 5 years. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband Isaac and her pup Tara.

Co-Director: Contemplative Psychotherapy, Latinoamérica/España. Visiting Faculty: Contemplative Psychotherapy Program. Core Faculty: Compassion-Based Resilience Training.


Elazar Aslan

Elazar Aslan, MBA, CPC, is an executive advisor able to integrate his successful career as an executive and an entrepreneur with his own contemplative practice to provide sustainable solutions to clients inspired by the neuroscience and wisdom behind mindfulness. He received his B.S. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where he also completed his M.B.A. at the Wharton School. Elazar also has CPC certification from the International Coaching Federation and is a Certified Energy Leadership Practitioner from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. Additionally, he has 15 years experience as an executive in Fortune 100 companies, 10 years experience as an entrepreneur growing a strategic marketing agency to $86MM in capitalized billings, and has been a certified professional coach for 10 years. Current projects include being founder of A Day of Kindness in Philadelphia, President of the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia, and a NICS board member.

Director: Mindful Business & Leadership. Core Faculty: Mindful Business & Leadership.


Fiona Brandon

Fiona Brandon, MA, MFT, is the Director of the Nalanda Institute’s CBRT and San Francisco-based Contemplative Psychotherapy programs. She is a psychotherapist in private practice who draws upon Buddhist psychology, depth psychology, expressive arts therapy, dream imagery, and Sensorimotor psychotherapy in her work with adults and couples. Fiona is a graduate of the Masters program in Counseling Psychology from the Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her research focused on the meditative practice of Authentic Movement, the use of symbols and dream imagery in psychotherapy. She has taught mindfulness practices at the UCSF Chronic Pelvic Pain Center and has been a teaching assistant at both the California Institute of Integral Studies and the Pacifica Graduate Institute.

Director: Contemplative Psychotherapy, San Francisco. Director: Compassion-Based Resilience Training. Core faculty.


Javier García Campayo

Javier García Campayo is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. He trained at the Hospital Clínico in Zaragoza, Spain, and at the Universities of Manchester and Cambridge, United Kingdom, and McGill, Montreal, Canada. He is currently Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Zaragoza. He has been chairman of the Spanish Society of Psychosomatic Medicine. He is a visiting lecturer at universities in Spain (UNED, Alcalá de Henares, Basque Country) and abroad (Rochester in the USA and Sao Paulo in Brazil). He has written more than 200 scientific articles, a number of books and chapters in books, and takes part in the main Spanish and international scientific conferences on mental health and psychotherapy. García Campayo leads the Master of Mindfulness at the University of Zaragoza, the first in any Spanish-speaking university. He has published books such as “Mindfulness y ciencia”, “La ciencia de la compasión” y “Mindfulness y educación”, with Alianza Editorial, “¿Qué sabemos de mindfulness?” y “El Guerrero Atento” with Editorial Kairós and “Nuevo Manual Práctico de Mindfulness” y “Mindfulness y compasión” with Editorial Siglantana. Every two years, he organizes the International Meeting on Mindfulness in Zaragoza with over 500 participants.

Co-Director: Contemplative Psychotherapy, Latinoamérica/España. Core Faculty: Contemplative Psychotherapy.


Pilar Jennings

Pilar Jennings, PhD, is a psychoanalyst focused on the clinical applications of Buddhist meditation who has been working with patients and their families through the Harlem Family Institute since 2004. She was awarded her PhD in Psychiatry and Religion from Union Theological Seminary, a Masters in medical anthropology from Columbia University, and a Bachelors in interdisciplinary writing from Barnard College of Columbia University. Dr. Jennings is the author of Mixing Minds: The Power of Relationship in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism and To Heal a Wounded Heart: The Transformative Power of Buddhism and Psychotherapy in Action. Currently, she is a researcher at the Columbia University Center for Study of Science and Religion and Co-chair of the Columbia Faculty Seminar on the Memory and Savery, where she explores the intergenerational transmission of trauma.

Core Faculty: Contemplative Psychotherapy.


Vance Williams Lavelle

Vance Williams LaVelle, MBA, is a management consultant, executive coach, and CEO Managing Partner at Global Consulting Group. Her work aims to accelerate the achievement of business and personal goals while also enhancing leadership impact through executive coaching. LaVelle received her her MBA from Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University. Her business management has been profiled in numerous print, web, and on-air features including Business Week, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. LaVelle couples her extensive senior executive experience in leadership, organizational, and strategy development with sustainable, mindfulness practices.

Core Faculty: Mindful Business & Leadership.


Geri Loizzo

Geri Loizzo is Nalanda Institute’s Director of Programming and Director of the Mindful Families & Schools Program. She is also a meditation faculty member and has served on the Institute’s board of directors since 2007. She’s had a regular practice of Hatha Yoga since 1982 and since 2006 has studied with Nalanda Institute Yoga Faculty, Mary Reilly Nichols. In addition, Loizzo has been studying and practicing Tibetan meditation since 1999, and has been leading weekly morning meditations at the Institute since 2011. Her mentors include Khyabje Gelek Rimpoche, Venerable Robina Courtin, and Kathleen McDonald.

Director of Programming: Nalanda Institute. Core Faculty. Meditation Faculty.


Joe Loizzo

Joseph (Joe) Loizzo, MD, PhD, is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and Columbia-trained Buddhist scholar with over forty years’ experience studying the beneficial effects of contemplative practices on healing, learning and development. He is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in Integrative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, where he researches and teaches contemplative self-healing and optimal health. He has taught the philosophy of science and religion, the scientific study of contemplative states, and the Indo-Tibetan mind and health sciences at Columbia University, where he is Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Columbia Center for Buddhist Studies.

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In 1998, Dr. Loizzo opened the Center for Meditation and Healing at Columbia University’s Presbyterian Hospital, the first mind/body medical center in a major academic department of psychiatry, and the first in the West to offer programs in stress-reduction, self-healing, and lifestyle change integrating compassion practice, role-modeling imagery, and advanced breath-control skills with basic mindfulness and yoga.

The Center for Meditation and Healing joined the Center for Integrative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in 2003, to better test and refine the effectiveness of programs. Dr. Loizzo founded Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science two years later, to make these programs more available to professionals and the public at large. In 2007, the Institute was incorporated in New York State as a not-for-profit educational foundation. Since then, its programs and community have been steadily evolving to meet the exponentially growing demand for neuroscientifically informed training in contemplative practices and their integration into contemporary healthcare, business, education, and daily life. Beyond the Compassion-Based Resilience Training (CBRT) and Contemplative Self-Healing Program (CSHP) offered since 1998 at New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Institute’s main programs include its comprehensive Four-Year Sustainable Happiness Program, its historic international Contemplative Psychotherapy Program, its cutting-edge Mindful Business & Leadership Program, and its popular Mindful Families & Schools Program. The Institute’s contemplative teacher training programs include Meditation Teacher Training in Mindfulness and Loving-Kindness, and Yoga, Mind, & Spirit Advanced Yoga Teacher Training.

Raised in Switzerland and educated in a Marianist Catholic boy’s school in New York, Dr. Loizzo was graduated summa cum laude in Independent Study from Amherst College. He completed his medical studies at New York University and his post-graduate training in psychiatry at Harvard’s Cambridge Hospital. His Columbia Ph.D. is in Indo-Tibetan Studies. He also holds an M.F.A. from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.

His academic honors include phi beta kappa; the Father Chaminade Awards for English and Religion; the first Mosely Prize in Philosophy and Religion; the Herman Wortis Prize in Neuropsychiatry and Medicine; a Mellon Faculty Fellowship in Indo-Tibetan Studies; and a Columbia University President’s Fellowship in the Scientific Study of Religion.

Beyond his teaching at Harvard, UC Davis, Columbia, and Cornell, Dr. Loizzo has lectured internationally on the health benefits of contemplative practices to a wide range of professional and public audiences. He gives frequent talks at Tibet House US on his work weaving humanity’s timeless contemplative sciences and healing arts into modern medicine, psychotherapy, leadership, and education.

Dr. Loizzo’s research has taken him from Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute and Cambridge Hospital westward to the Psychiatry Training Program at UC Davis, and eastward to Drepung Monastic University in India. Now at the Weill Cornell Center for Integrative Medicine, he has completed four studies on the impact of mindfulness, compassion, imagery, and breath-control skills on the lives of women recovering from breast cancer. The positive findings of these studies–marked reductions in stress, traumatic avoidance, and intrusive thinking combined with clear gains in social-emotional functioning and quality of life—have been published in peer-reviewed journals including Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, and Biomed Central.

Beyond his clinical research, Dr. Loizzo has published numerous scientific articles and scholarly chapters on contemplative approaches to psychotherapy, leadership, and education, the role of contemplative self-healing in healthcare, and the Nalanda tradition of mind and health science. This includes seven review articles on contemplative neuropsychiatry and psychotherapy published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychiatric Association Press, and Oxford University Press. His translation study, Nagarjuna’s Reason Sixty with Candrakirti’s Commentary, was one of the inaugural volumes in the American Institute of Buddhist Studies Translation Series distributed by the Columbia University Press.

Dr. Loizzo’s comprehensive textbook, Sustainable Happiness: The Mind Science Of Well-Being, Altruism, and Inspiration was published by Routledge in 2012. He is executive editor of Advances in Contemplative Psychotherapy: Accelerating Healing and Transformation, a groundbreaking collection of essays by pioneers of a fast-emerging and highly promising new field (Routledge, 2017). The meditation manuals and CD’s used in his programs on stress, healing and life-change are available through the Nalanda Institute.

Dr. Loizzo lives in Manhattan with his wife Gerardine and sons, Maitreya Dante and Ananda Rowan, where he maintains a private practice of contemplative psychotherapy.

Founder & Academic Director: Nalanda Institute. Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. Core Faculty: all programs.


Marco Mascarin

Marco Mascarin, PhD, RP, is a contemplative psychotherapist who teaches, researches and writes about mindfulness-based clinical interventions and contemplative approaches to healing. His work is informed by over three decades of training with teachers from Indo-Tibetan Buddhist lineages and traditional healers from around the world. Marco teaches clinical applications of mindfulness in the Counseling Psychology program at the University of Toronto and also serves on campus as Buddhist Chaplain. He was Co-Director and core faculty for the Inter-professional Certificate in Applied Mindfulness Meditation presented at the Faculty of Social Work, UofT and McMaster University Medical Centre Faculty of Health Sciences. Marco is co-founder of the Institute of Traditional Medicine in Toronto and worked for many years as a documentary filmmaker, producing dozens of films for the CBC about contemporary visionaries. He is a clinical associate at the Mindfulness Clinic in Toronto.

Core Faculty: Contemplative Psychotherapy (Toronto).


Sharon Salzberg

Sharon Salzberg is a meditation teacher, author, and a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. She is one of the most prominent Buddhist meditation teachers in the West and has been teaching and leading meditation retreats around the world for over three decades. Her writings have appeared in numerous publications, including Time, Yoga Journal, Tricycle, BuddhadharmaLoin’s Roar, and numerous anthologies. She is the author of ten books, including Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier (co-authored with Robert Thurman), and Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection.

Core Faculty: Contemplative Psychotherapy.


Robert Thurman

Robert Thurman, PhD, is a recognized worldwide authority on religion and spirituality, Asian history, world philosophy, Buddhist science, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., Spiritual Director of Menla, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies. Dr. Thurman received his PhD from Harvard and has studied extensively with many top Tibetan Lamas including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Dr. Thurman is the author of many books, including The Central Philosophy of Tibet, The Jewel Tree of Tibet, and, most recently, with William Meyers and Michael Burbank, Man of Peace: The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

Core Faculty: Contemplative Psychotherapy.


Bart van Melik

Bart van Melik, MA, is a meditation and Insight Dialogue teacher. His Masters in Psychology of Culture and Religion is from the Nijmegen University in The Netherlands. He is also a graduate of the Community Dharma Leader Program at Spirit Rock and is currently in the Spirit Rock/IMS teacher training program. Van Melik teaches through the Metta Foundation and is a senior teacher at the Lineage Project. He has been teaching meditation since 2009, with a specific focus on working with diverse populations, including bringing meditation to juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters, VA hospitals and New York City public schools.

Core Faculty: Contemplative Psychotherapy. Meditation Faculty.