Yuria Celidwen is a doctoral candidate in cultural psychology and contemplative sciences at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is a native of Indigenous descent from Chiapas (Mexico). Her research focuses on ethics and compassion within world mythologies and mystical traditions from an interdisciplinary approach that conjoins reason and emotion, scientific inquiry and contemplative practices. Her interests are the development of identity in cultural and personal narratives, the experience of the holy, and the cultivation of altruism and consciousness for social and environmental justice. She is co-chair of the Psychology, Culture and Religion unit, and the Women’s Caucus Liaison to the Board of the American Academy of Religion—Western Region, and she works for the United Nations in New York.
Abby Eletz, LMSW is a graduate of Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program and holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work. She has over fifteen years of experience exploring contemplative mind-body traditions. Her current work as a psychotherapist at the Fifth Avenue Counseling Center revolves around the integration of contemplative and somatic practices within a clinical therapeutic setting. Abby is also a teacher of the Mindful Self-Compassion curriculum in New York City.
Meditation Faculty. Co-Director of Counseling & Mentoring.
Rachel Hammerman is a meditation teacher and mindful communication and career coach. She synthesizes 15 years of strategic communications experience with the dharma to help people speak, work and live with ease. Rachel teaches Mindfulness and Metta in the Theravada and Insight Meditation tradition. She completed the Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program and is grateful to offer the Buddha’s teachings as she’s received them from teachers including Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Tara Brach, Joe Loizzo and Bob Thurman. Rachel receives dharma mentoring from Oren Jay Sofer, and teacher training from Mark Coleman and Martin Aylward through the Mindfulness Training Institute. Rachel participated in Stanford’s Compassion Cultivation Training and has a BA in Sociology from Tufts University.
Nina Herzog is a current student in the Nalanda Institute Contemplative Psychotherapy Program and a Gestalt psychoanalyst-in-training. She has worked with individuals experiencing homelessness and actively using drugs since 1992. She is a consultant and trainer on harm reduction, trauma-informed care, LGBTQI cultural competency and evidence-based practices for housing providers, foundations and universities. She has a BA in political science from Barnard College, a master’s in urban planning from NYU and an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College. With a proud history of many civil disobedience arrests, Nina facilitates Nalanda Institute’s social justice meditation.
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. Director: Mindful Families & Schools. Coordinator: Yoga, Mind & Spirit. Core Faculty: Sustainable Happiness. Meditation Faculty.
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.Continue reading
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 & Director: Nalanda Institute. Co-Director: Contemplative Psychotherapy. Director: Compassion-Based Resilience Training; Meditation Teacher Training. Core Faculty: all programs.
Kristen McKee, LMSW, is a contemplative psychotherapist, yoga therapist, and meditation teacher with a deep interest in the teachings of emptiness and wisdom, particularly Mahamudra. She has a BA in anthropology from Johns Hopkins University and an MSW from New York University. McKee is a graduate of Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program and has completed over 1000 hours of formal study on the integration of ancient spiritual principles and modern psychology. As a meditation teacher, she attunes to the social-emotional needs of students in order to create a safe and fulfilling learning environment. Through both psychotherapy and meditation instruction, she strives to empower individuals from within by encouraging them to view all of life’s experiences as opportunities for growth.
Megan Mook, MA, is a writer and meditation teacher. She conducts corporate seminars on emotional intelligence, writes about meditation, hosts immersive retreats, and is the head teacher of MNDFL Meditation in Brooklyn. She holds a Master’s degree in Buddhist Studies from the International Buddhist College in Thailand and has studied Tibetan scriptural translation with Robert Thurman and Lozang Jamspal of Columbia University. Over the last 15 years, Megan has immersed herself in the study of Buddhism by working closely with teachers in the Zen, Theravada, and Tibetan traditions.
Coordinator: Meditation Teacher Training. Visiting Faculty: Yoga, Mind & Spirit. Meditation faculty.
Mindy Newman, MA, MTS, LMHC, is a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist in private practice. She has an MA in counseling psychology from Lesley University and an MTS in world religion from Harvard University. A committed practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, Newman began her dharma study with Lama Migmar Tseten in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has studied with other profound teachers in both the Sakya and Gelug traditions. She is a graduate of Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program and teaches meditation as part of the institute’s Introduction to Meditation series at Tibet House. Newman was recently one of Tricycle’s online dharma talk leaders. She also coordinates Nalanda Institute’s Counseling and Mentoring Referral Network and is passionate about making Buddhist psychotherapy more widely accessible.
Mary Reilly Nichols
Mary Reilly Nichols, is the Director of Nalanda Institute’s Yoga, Mind & Spirit and has been teaching yoga for over 30 years. She specializes in yoga with an emphasis on the development of wisdom and experience through the lens of non-duality offered in the Upanishads, Advaita Vedanta, as well as in the Tantric methods of Kashmiri Shaivism and Kundalini Yoga. She holds a BA in anthropology from Harvard University, is a devoted student of Muktananda, and completed five years of residency in meditation ashrams in both India and the US. Currently, Nichols teaches stress management in psychiatric settings and is involved in ongoing research on the mind/body benefits of yoga and meditation.
Director: Yoga, Mind & Spirit. Core Faculty: Yoga, Mind & Spirit; Sustainable Happiness. Meditation Faculty.
Susanna Nicholson, MPhil, is a health coach and yoga and meditation teacher. She teaches classes at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York and, for over ten years, has provided lifestyle coaching and practices for patients in cancer and cardiac rehabilitation. She received her MPhil from Oxford. Additionally, Nicholson received her mindfulness teacher training from the Meditation Teacher Training Institute and has been authorized to teach yoga meditation by the Krishnamachary-Desikachar tradition. She is certified as a Duke University integrative health coach, has certifications for cardiac and cancer diagnosis, and completed a 500 RYT teacher training. Nicholson is presently enrolled in the Contemplative Psychology Program at Nalanda Institute and has written on contemplative practices for various publications. Her current research focuses on adapting pre-modern South Asian contemplative practices for a diverse, contemporary society.
Helen H. Park
Helen H. Park, LMSW, MFA, is a clinical social worker specializing in integrative and holistic therapeutic approaches for children, couples, and families. She received her MSW from New York University and MFA from University of California Santa Cruz. Park also completed Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program and is currently its Acting Director. She serves as faculty for Nalanda Institute’s Mindful Families & Schools Program, as well as spearheading the Radical Compassion Project with co-director Geri Loizzo. Park also works with the Ackerman Institute for the Family as an Intake Coordinator, an Extern in the postgraduate training program, and an Extern Associate for Ackerman’s Foster Care and Adoption Project. She also provides mentoring for couples and families in mindfulness meditation as a relational practice.
Director: Contemplative Psychotherapy. Core Faculty: Contemplative Psychotherapy, Mindful Families & Schools. Meditation Faculty.
Maria Perez, MPH, CCM, is founder and CEO of Case Management Network, Inc., which provides care coordination and management of traumatic injuries within occupational and liability insurance frameworks. She received her MPH from Columbia University and has completed multiple programs from the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science including the Sustainable Happiness Program, Contemplative Psychotherapy Program, Meditation Teacher Training, and Yoga, Mind & Spirit. In addition to her own meditation practice, Perez has integrated teaching mindfulness meditation to her employees and patients for stress reduction and pain control.
Tazuko Shibusawa, LCSW, PhD, is Associate Professor at the New York University Silver School of Social Work and previously served as the Associate Dean and Director of the MSW Program. Tazuko received her LCSW and PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles and completed post-graduate training in family therapy, psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapy, and trauma studies. She is a graduate of Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy program. Tazuko’s research, which has been funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the John A. Hartford Foundation Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholars Program, focuses on the health and mental health of older adults and their families, elder abuse and mistreatment, and clinical practice with Asian and Asian immigrants.
Scott Tusa is a Buddhist teacher based in Brooklyn. He teaches meditation and Buddhist psychology nationally in both group and one-to-one settings, and supports Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s Pundarika Sangha as a practice advisor. He trained in Buddhist philosophy and meditation with some of the greatest living masters since his early twenties, including Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, and Tulku Sangag Rinpoche. Ordained by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, he spent nine years as a Buddhist monk, with much of that time engaged in solitary meditation retreat and study in the United States, India, and Nepal.
Faculty: Meditation Teacher Training. Meditation faculty.