See other self-portraits

Rachel Mann

MettaKnowledge for Peace, LLC
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA




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 and others.

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 this field?

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:

Mettaknowledge for Peace
Sunray Meditation Society (for information on Dhyani Ywahoo)
Four Winds Society
Bradford Keeney: Shaking Medicine

[ Back to Top ]