What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?
How can we break down a collective entrainment into patterns
of violence and trauma in our world that leads individuals and groups
to believing that peace is not possible?
What is your personal experience of collective
wisdom in groups?
For 15 years, I have taught about violence and peace
in transformational classes in the undergraduate setting and to adults
and I am a healer in a shamanic tradition from the Peruvian Andes. It
is amazing how little it takes to wake up our innate wisdom that enables
us to see the world through a lens of hope and caring for ourselves
What is it about the work in this field that excites
you and connects you to your own deepest self?
Whenever I am with clients or students and watch them
explore the edges of their own consciousness and when they begin to
see how old patterns of thought and emotion can be shifted, I feel my
own heart expand. I am especially interested in how the wisdom from
indigenous traditions adapted into Western settings. I am seeking to
articulate how these practices can change our consciousness in language
that resonates to non-Natives.
Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of
what brought you to this work.
At the age of 15, I became fascinated with the dark history
of Russia from reading a novel by exiled writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
This teenaged interest led me to earn a BA in Russian Studies and an
MA in Soviet Studies. By the time I was in the final stages of earning
a Ph.D. in Slavic folklore and anthropology and due to being in Jungian
analysis in my 20s, my interests had expanded into a desire to understand
human consciousness, in particular, how to heal all of us from a collective
entrainment in patterns of trauma, violence and abuse. I then studied
with the Ven. Dhyani Ywahoo, Chief of the Green Mountain Ani Yunwiwa
clan of the Tsalagi (Cherokee) people and a recognized Khandro in the
Drikung kagyu and Nyingma pa Tibetan Buddhist lineages. She also founded
the Sunray Meditation Society. I had called myself a Buddhist since
childhood and was interested in being connected to a living teacher.
Her teachings exploded many old ways of thinking and seeing in my mind
and led me into an exploration of indigenous spirituality which included
scholarly research and ongoing study. Eventually, I began to read and
delve into the new shamanism in the West. I brought a number of well-known
teachers to the East Coast and my hometown, including Martin Prechtel
and Bradford Keeney. In the meantime, I developed two innovative courses
dealing with problems of racism, gender violence, and violence more
generally in my undergraduate teaching. I drew upon methods and ways
of seeing adapted from my study of Buddhism and indigenous spirituality.
In 2007, I left my tenured position as an administrator and professor
at the University of Virginia to start my own business, MettaKnowledge
for Peace, to work with individuals and organizations in transformation.
I also started training in the methods of shamanism from the Q'ero people
of the Peruvian Andes in the Four Winds Society Healing the Light Body
School founded by Alberto Villoldo.
How would you like to be available to others in
I am available to provide talks, workshops, and consulting
to organizations on the following topics:
1) The controversies surrounding, history and promises of the new
shamanism in the West and their adaptation into mainstream settings.
2) Articulating a place in the emerging field of bringing contemplative
practices into mainstream settings of indigenous spiritual traditions.
3) The risk for developing vicarious trauma on those who work with
traumatized populations and how to address it through contemplative
practices for transformation and self-awareness.
4) Research and writing on the application of contemplative and transformational
practices in various settings.
5) The emergence of spirituality in the wake of trauma and how to
articulate it in service of healing and peace.
6) The application of contemplative practices in higher education
Links to this site or others:
Sunray Meditation Society (for
information on Dhyani Ywahoo)
Four Winds Society
Bradford Keeney: Shaking Medicine