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A New Chapter in New York

Updated: Mar 11

Dear Friends:

I wanted to share that a new chapter of my life is on the horizon. This fall, I will attend the M.S. in Mental Health Counseling at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.

I'm ecstatic to be accepted into this prestigious program to train as a professional mental health counselor. I'm also excited by the faculty expertise in mind/body wellness and psychogenic pain.

I see the practice of counseling as a natural extension of the work I've been doing my whole adult life—from a performance artist, yoga teacher, massage therapist, and philosophy instructor. Ultimately, I see all these vocations as ways of apprehending the causes of human suffering and providing remedies, treatments, and wisdom in response to pain, discord, confusion, and disillusionment.

The first inkling I had that I should pursue psychotherapy occurred in 2010 when I started to delve more deeply into Buddhist psychology. Over the years, my dialogic interactions with students supplanted my interest in primarily working somatically, both as a postural yoga teacher and massage therapist. I increased my discussion-based philosophy classes, wherein introspection and the communal power of storytelling were integral features. These classes interwove yoga and Buddhist studies with contemplative learning exercises for students to analyze their emotions, personal beliefs, and habits. It was here—at the junction of collaborative inquiry, meaning-making, and compassionate dialogue—that my desire to pursue mental health counseling crystallized. I feel fortunate to be training as a psychotherapist at a time in history when the field hosts a rich discourse between Asian and Euro-American psychological systems, conceptions of wellness, and practical approaches to human betterment.

My blogging paused last winter as I finished my graduate school applications and coursework at UC Berkeley. Now that this major hurdle has been crossed, the complex journey of moving back to the U.S. and preparing to begin school begins. Paul and I are so excited about this next phase of our lives.

This new adventure also means a shift in my teaching practice. I have decided to pause the philosophy courses I'm offering in favor of more yoga and wellness-based offerings. I will provide more information on new programs soon!

I look forward to continuing to serve you and sharing the spiritual journey.

By Shannon "Sati" Chmelar


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