Past Speakers & Workshops

We host internationally-known guest speakers for workshops each spring and fall. Sign up for our newsletter so you won’t miss any of these great events!

Becoming Trauma-Sensitive:
Making Mindfulness and Meditation Safe for Trauma Survivors

David Treleaven, PhD

The Art of Mindful Communication:
Living Your Values

Oren Jay Sofer

Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness
and Self-Compassion

Elisha Goldstein, PhD

Mindful Eating: A Path to Health and Well-Being

Lynn Rossy, PhD

Mindfulness & The Science of Habit Change

Judson Brewer, MD, PhD

2-Day Mindful Self-Compassion Core Skills Workshop

Christopher Germer & Kristen Neff

Mindfulness, Mindsight and the Integrated Brain

Dr. Dan Siegel

Mindfulness for Educators: Cultivating Curiosity and Kindness Over the Long Haul

Ted DesMaisons, MBA, MTh

Hardwiring Happiness:
The New Brain Science of Lasting Inner Strength and Peace

Dr. Rick Hanson

Becoming Trauma-Sensitive: Making Mindfulness and Meditation Safe for Trauma Survivors

with David Treleaven, PhD • October 26, 2019

Designed for wellness professionals, this one-day workshop—led by author and trauma specialist, David Treleaven, PhD—will equip you with the tools you need to offer mindfulness in a safe, effective, trauma-sensitive way.

From elementary schools to psychotherapy offices, mindfulness meditation is an increasingly mainstream practice. At the same time, trauma remains a fact of life: the majority of us will experience a traumatic event in our lifetime, and some will develop post-traumatic stress. While trauma is an extreme form of stress, and mindfulness is a proven stress-reduction tool, the reality creates a complex challenge.

Emerging research suggests that mindfulness interventions can help or hinder trauma survivors, raising a crucial question for mindfulness educators everywhere: How can you be prepared to minimize the potential dangers of mindfulness for survivors while leveraging its powerful benefits at the same time?

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand why meditation can create dysregulation for people who’ve experienced trauma and specific ways you can prevent this
  • Be prepared to recognize symptoms of traumatic stress while offering mindfulness interventions
  • Be informed about current empirical research regarding mindfulness and trauma, including evidence-based interventions you can apply immediately to your work
  • Be equipped with tools and modifications to help you work skillfully with dysregulated arousal, traumatic flashbacks, and trauma-related dissociation
  • Understand the relationship between individual and systemic forms of trauma, including responsibilities to educate oneself about power, oppression, and social context

David Treleaven, PhD, is a writer, educator, and trauma professional whose work focuses on the intersection of trauma and mindfulness. He is author of the book Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing, which was acclaimed by Rick Hanson as “a rare combination of solid scholarship, clinically useful methods, and passionate advocacy for those who have suffered from trauma.” He’s lectured on trauma-sensitive mindfulness at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and the Omega Institute in New York. Trained in counseling psychology at the University of British Columbia, he received his doctorate in psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies and is currently a visiting scholar at Brown University.

The Art of Mindful Communication: Living Your Values

with Oren Jay Sofer • May 10, 2019

Mindfulness practice provides a powerful support for clear, kind, and effective conversations. Join author and meditation teacher Oren Jay Sofer for this exploration of how contemplative practice can deepen our relationships personally and professionally, bringing more compassion, clarity, and connection into our lives. 

In this daylong workshop, we will explore the foundations of an integrated approach to skillful communication. Drawing on the tools of mindfulness practice, and the modern discipline of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), and the insights of trauma healing, this day will offer practical tips to bring more clarity and care to your relationships, and to create the conditions for meaningful collaboration. The day will include a combination of guided meditation, discussion, and interactive practice. It is appropriate for all levels of experience; NVC will be taught at a basic level.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Learn the concept of “presence” and its benefits for communication with clients/patients and co-workers, including how this practice may reduce stress and burnout
  • Demonstrate the clinical skill of pausing, and describe how this skill can improve communication
  • Explain the differences between “needs” and “strategies,” and how understanding this difference results in improved outcomes
  • Describe how “listening with the intention to understand,” improves our relationships
  • Describe the difference between empathy and non-empathic forms of communication, and how empathic communication may improve all of our relationships

Oren Jay Sofer has practiced meditation since 1997 and teaches meditation and communication nationally. A member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, he holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University, is a Certified Trainer of Nonviolent Communication, a Course Trainer at Mindful Schools, and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner trauma healing. Oren is also the author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication, and the founder of Next Step Dharma, an online course focused on living the path of awakening in our daily lives.

Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

with Elisha Goldstein, PhD • October 19, 2018

A persuasive argument for hope! Learn to build the sections of the brain that protect us from depressive slides, and slow down the sections that foster them. Allow the brain’s natural anti-depressants to emerge, grow stronger, and facilitate the ability to enjoy the good times, survive difficult times, and open to lives of greater resiliency and well-being.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Describe what makes us resilient in the face of depression
  • Practice a Mindfulness exercise
  • Identify the brain changes associated with depression and anxiety
  • Discuss the importance of play as a key attitude for resiliency
  • Describe why mindfulness and compassion are natural antidepressants
  • Practice a Self-Compassion exercise
  • Discuss how and why our relationships are the x-factor for sustaining change

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living in West Los Angeles and creator of a number of powerful programs including the 6-month mentorship program A Course in Mindful Living. He is a psychologist, speaker and author who has published numerous articles, chapters, and blogs, including Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life and co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and MBSR Every Day. He synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing. He has his private practice in West Los Angeles, CA.

Mindful Eating: A Path to Health and Well-Being

with Lynn Rossy, PhD • March 16 & 17, 2018

We eat for many reasons besides physical hunger. We eat when we are sad, lonely, angry, stressed, or bored. We eat at the computer and watching TV. We eat to entertain ourselves, because it’s time, and just because the food is there. Our world is filled with distraction, so we eat mindlessly and engage in behavior that leads to a less than ideal relationship to our bodies.  And, in a culture that idolizes the perfect body, self-criticism and self-judgment prevail.

Challenges with how to eat and how to treat our bodies often result in emotional distress, obesity, and other eating-related health problems. Diets that focus on weight loss have not been shown to be effective in the long term and may even contribute to weight gain and greater despair. Taking a more holistic approach, mindful eating can help people end overeating and make friends with their bodies, use awareness to manage their emotions, and guide their behavior.

In day one of the workshop, learn about mindfulness and how it relates to mindful eating. Understand the evidence from current research in the field of mindful eating, including the research conducted by the presenter on her program entitled, Eat for Life. Learn simple but powerful practices to change how you eat and view your body forever.

In day two, both professionals and the general public can benefit from understanding the barriers and challenges in learning and practicing mindful eating. Drawing from her experience of teaching mindful eating for a decade, Dr. Rossy will describe real-life problems that people encounter in practicing mindful eating and discuss the methods for overcoming them. There will be a combination of presentation, mindful eating, and guided meditations. Suitable for professionals and the general public.

Lynn Rossy, Ph.D. is a health psychologist, author, and researcher specializing in mindfulness-based interventions for eating, stress, and workplace wellness. She combined her decades long personal practice of mindfulness with her love of eating and scientific investigation to produce the program called Eat for Life. This program is scientifically proven to help people to be more mindful, love their bodies, and end overeating. She published the book The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution (2016), to bring these concepts to the public. Her book was named in the Top Ten Mindfulness Books of 2016 by She is the Vice President of The Center for Mindful Eating—an international non-profit organization training professionals in the field of mindful eating. She is always on the move, giving workshops and presentations on the topic of mindfulness and mindful eating to everyone from small businesses to international scientific conferences.

Mindfulness & The Science Of Habit Change

with Judson Brewer, MD, PhD • October 20, 2017

We are creatures of habit. We often find ourselves repeating habits uncontrollably whether it’s the habit of constantly checking social media, binge eating, smoking, excessive drinking, or any other behaviors. Why are bad habits so hard to overcome? Is there a key to conquering the cravings we know are unhealthy for us? How can we cultivate habits that support our health and happiness?

In this unique workshop with psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and mindfulness teacher Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, he will guide us through a day of understanding how we can tap into the very processes that encourage bad habits in order to step into healthier habits. Dr. Brewer will describe the mechanisms of habit and addiction formation, as well as how the practice of mindfulness can interrupt these habits.

Workshop Objectives:

  1. Define mindfulness
  2. Describe the habit loop of positive and negative reinforcement.
  3. Practice a mindfulness meditation
  4. Practice a loving kindness meditation
  5. Discuss participants’ insights with formal mindfulness practices
  6. Discuss how mindfulness approaches can help change habit patterns

Judson Brewer, MD, PhD is a thought leader in the field of habit change and the “science of self-mastery”, having combined nearly 20 years of experience with mindfulness training with his scientific research therein.

2-Day Mindful Self-Compassion Core Skills Workshop

with Christopher Germer and Kristen Neff • March 3 & 4, 2017

Program activities include talks, meditation, experiential exercises, and group discussion. Participants will directly experience self-compassion and learn practices that evoke self-compassion in daily life. No previous experience with mindfulness or meditation is required to attend the program.

Learning Objectives:

  • Practice self-compassion in daily life
  • Understand the science of self-compassion
  • Motivate yourself with kindness rather than criticism
  • Handle difficult emotions with greater ease
  • Manage caregiver fatigue
  • Practice the art of savoring and self-appreciation
  • Teach simple self-compassion exercises to clients

Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer are pioneers in the scientific development of self-compassion. They have brought their respective experience together in the empirically-supported Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program and are providing a series of in-depth opportunities for people to immerse themselves in some of the key practices and exercises of the full 8-week program in an intensive 2-day format. Join Kristin and Chris to learn from the leaders just how powerful and transformative the practice of self-compassion can be. 

Mindfulness, Mindsight and the Integrated Brain: What is the Mind and Mental Health?

with Dr. Dan Siegel • February 26, 2016

Can we describe a "healthy mind"? Defining mind as an "embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information" allows us to move deeply into understanding new ways of seeing the interconnections among brain, interpersonal relationships, and the mind. Dr. Siegel outlines strategies to monitor and modify energy and information flow with more clarity and power, and also describes how the concept of integration can serve as an organizing principle that illuminates mindsight, harmony, resilience, and vitality.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore the nature of mind
  • Examine what a healthy mind might be
  • Discover how chaos and rigidity reveal impaired integration
  • Learn how to cultivate integration to create harmony and health

Dr. Dan Siegel is author of three New York Times Bestsellers; Founding Co-Director of UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center; Founding Co-Investigator at the UCLA Center for Culture, Brain, and Development; and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute.

Mindfulness for Educators: Cultivating Curiosity and Kindness Over the Long Haul

with Ted DesMaisons, MBA, MTh • November 7, 2015

From kindergarten through college, leading voices espouse the benefits of mindfulness practice for children and youth. Mindfulness is often described as a practical tool for addressing mental and emotional health as well as discipline issues in schools. However, for mindfulness to be truly effective, teachers and administrators must learn to distinguish between deeper mindfulness practice and its more superficial “step-siblings.” What does the research show and what does it not show? What variables make for the most effective mindfulness instruction? Who teaches and embodies the practice with integrity and humor? How do we make mindfulness appealing to children and youth? This workshop will dive into these questions and offer attendees a direct taste of mindfulness practice, a glimpse into its promise for the classroom, as well as its power to impact the personal lives of those who work with children and youth.

Learning Objectives:

  • What mindfulness is and what mindfulness is not
  • The explosion of mindfulness research
  • How to train the “puppy mind” for greater attention and focus
  • Simple mindfulness exercises to help ease anxiety, promote resilience, and develop connection
  • Practical steps for bringing mindfulness to school communities

Ted DesMaisons, MBA, MTh., has been synthesizing innovative approaches to teaching and learning for over 25 years. After completing graduate work at Stanford and Harvard, he taught religious studies and philosophy for twelve years at a private New England boarding school. Fueled by insights from the worlds of growth mindset, contemplative practice, improvisational theater, and positive reinforcement, Ted founded Anima Learning and now serves as US Coordinator and Lead Trainer for the UK-based Mindfulness in Schools Project. He is also a trained Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) instructor. 

Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Lasting Inner Strength and Peace

with Dr. Rick Hanson • October 17, 2014

We all need inner strengths such as resilience, positive emotions, feeling cared about, and confidence for the long and often hard road of life. These strengths largely depend on turning positive experiences into mental structure. Unfortunately, most positive experiences are wasted on the brain because it evolved a negativity bias to help our ancestors survive. It’s like Velcro for bad experiences but Teflon for good ones. This causes over-reactivity, needless worries, depression, and interpersonal conflicts. It also hampers child-rearing, psychotherapy, mindfulness training, and addiction recovery.

To solve this problem, this workshop will show how to turn passing experiences into lasting neural resources. We’ll explore how to use these methods to lower anxiety and stress, lift mood, grow calm and contentment, and fundamentally, hardwire happiness into the brain.

Learning Objectives:

  • How your mind alone can change your brain for the better
  • Why the brain evolved a negativity bias and how this affects us today
  • The four HEAL steps that tap the hidden power of everyday experiences to build up your sense of feeling strong, happy, peaceful, and loved
  • How to have and take in the “antidote experiences” you most need, including for healing old pain
  • How to use the HEAL steps for motivation, child-rearing, recovery, depression, and trauma
  • Why taking in the good brings us home to the Responsive, “green” setting of the human brain that is the fundamental basis of long-term health and happiness.

Rick Hanson, PhD, is a  neuropsychologist and New York Times best-selling author. His books include Hardwiring Happiness, Buddha’s Brain, Just One Thing, and Mother Nurture. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, and on the Advisory Board of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he’s been an invited speaker at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and taught in meditation centers worldwide. He has several audio programs, and his free Just One Thing newsletter has over 100,000 subscribers.

Additional Previous Guest Speakers

Dr. Paul Fulton, Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy

Elana Rosenbaum, MS, LICSW, Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center

Do you have someone in mind you’d love for us to bring to Grand Rapids for a future workshop? Send us a message!
Looking for a local mindfulness speaker for your business, organization, or event? Find more details on our Professionals page.

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