Hi. Tell us a bit about yourself & what you do in the world.
My name is Miriam K. von Guggenberg and I have the privilege to do what I love for “work.” My work is in mindfulness, which literally means not just to become aware of oneself, one’s thoughts, emotions, sensations, but ALSO to befriend them (yes, even the anger, the jealousy, the frustration). I ultimately believe that each part of a person has a positive intention.
My work in mindfulness is twofold:
1) Psychotherapist: I invite people (kids 5 years and up, adolescents, couples) to become aware of their breath, their body, and their thoughts through several modalities: sand tray, empty chair, expressive arts, guided imagery. I am a firm believer in bringing both the mind and body into the psychotherapy session.
(See more: transformativetransitions.com).
2) Yoga Teacher: I Invite yogis to experience their breath, their bodies, and their energy on the mat. I define myself as a “Process Yoga Teacher.”
(See more: embraceandembody.com).
Why did you choose to become a therapist?
I have never been into “small talk.” Like other therapists, I experienced random people coming up to me (before I was a professional therapist), their rusty stories climbing out of their lips as we stood outside of the local grocery store or bus station. I was never sure why they were telling me or what they were hoping for, but I have always loved holding a space for people to step into their vulnerability, explore who they are, and become curious about what they want for themselves and their relationships.
I graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis University with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and a B.A. in Fine Arts: Oil Painting, and wrote my thesis on questioning religious and spiritual identity. Life continued to tug at me as I dipped my foot into teaching (Teach for America) and the legal world (paralegal in a corporate immigration law firm), and finally plopped me into a profession that is a home to all of my interests: mindfulness, listening, spirituality, creativity, and honesty.
What’s your therapy practice like?
It’s the place where the subconscious is welcome to express itself. It’s more than your average/typical “talk therapy” or “reflective listening,” which allows people to experience insight into themselves. I focus on the process: what you/your body are doing in the present moment (not just the words that you are saying). As a relational therapist, at times, I will bring up what I am noticing between the two of us.
I specialize in two areas:
1) Children/adolescents (ages 5 and up) and,
2) Couples who have experienced issues such as mistrust, miscommunication, and infidelity.
These are some invitations you may hear from me (depending on the moment): Put the part of you that is scared of the future into the chair next to you and talk with her; show me your dream in the sand tray, and speak as though each figure in the sand tray is a part of you; draw/furiously scribble out your anger on paper or a white board, and then, let’s interact with it; turn your chair away from your partner and explore what that’s like; make eye contact with your partner for one minute, and then, let’s process that experience; express your resentments to your partner and your appreciations.
Ultimately, I hope my clients will:
1) Learn and understand that each part of them cares for them,
2) Listen to themselves and all parts of themselves, and
3) Know that they are not alone in this seemingly crazy and messy world.
Why did you choose to become a yoga teacher?
Yoga has saved my life, time and time again. My body is highly sensitive and when stressed, parts of my body tighten, nausea overwhelms my chest and throat, and my stomach feels like it’s going to curl into itself. During those moments, as soon as I deepen my breath and move through yoga asanas, my body loosens its grip on the stress/anxiety. I love yoga! What better way to share yoga with others than to teach it?
What’s your yoga teaching practice like?
I consider myself a Process Yoga Teacher and I teach vinyasa, pre-/post-natal vinyasa, and yin yoga. I focus on asanas as a way to express oneself in the moment and as a way to celebrate one’s body.
I also believe yoga is a form of listening, and just because someone can do a particular pose, might not mean that s/he should do it in the moment.
For instance, I may invite you to notice what motivates you to deepen, back off, or stay in a yoga pose: “Is your mind telling you, ‘If you do this, you’re officially an awesome yogi and everyone will respect you?’ Is it your body telling you, ‘Yeah, we all know you can do that arm balance, but I want you to be in child’s pose, please, because I’m really really tired?’ Or, is it your breath telling you, ‘Yeah, go for it. Try it out, exhaleeeeee and…’ boom! You’re in forearmstand/pincha mayurasana”?
For the most part, students walk away a bit more sweaty (with the exception of yin), more calm, and more curious about the pacing of their thoughts and their breath.
What are you personally learning from being a therapist and yoga teacher?
As a therapist and a yoga teacher,
I continuously learn and relearn that
I can trust the present moment
and trust myself, my breath, and my sensations.
The “here-and-now” keeps reminding me that plans are not as important as listening to the other person(s), the energy, or my breath. The present moment has everything I need.