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Sarah L. Weber, PHD, Co-Founder

Sara L. Weber, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist-psychoanalyst, Adjunct Assistant Professor and Clinical Consultant at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis and faculty of the William A. White Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Training Program. In 2006 she founded the Contemplative Studies Project in which she teaches study groups and serves as the Chair. She is a long time practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism in the Gelugpa Tradition of the Dalai Lama, and of Vipassana Meditation in the Insight Meditation Tradition. She has lectured internationally and published papers on the influence of Buddhism on psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, the first being “An Analyst’s Surrender” in Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An Unfolding Dialogue (Safran, Ed.). Her private practice is in Brooklyn, New York.

Flowers on Wood

         "As a young girl I had an extraordinary encounter with Rabbi Zalman Schacter, one of the founders of the Jewish Renewal Movement. This experience helped coalesce the many experiences of vast peace I had felt at summer camp into a way of being I would seek over and over, where losing is finding, where one forgets oneself to find oneself.

         One day at Camp Ramah Reb Schacter asked if any of the campers would like to learn to meditate. Four or five of us said yes.  Thus began my first experience with meditation. Reb Zalman asked us to sit on the ground before a large easel on which he had written a large aleph on a drawing pad.  He instructed us to meditate on it.  That bewildered me.  I remember thinking: What could that possibly do?  It’s just a letter of the alphabet.  But before I knew it, I was in a large empty castle on what I took to be a bank of the Connecticut River.  All the campers were sitting in a row in this vast, cold stone room before Zalman, who looked like a cross between a rabbi and a wizard. I remember feeling a little spooked by the emptiness of the castle—it was clearly abandoned, cold, and old.

          Did I belong here?

         Did I have a right to be here? To be anywhere?

         Something was discomfiting about this castle.  My fear of being my self? Of being allowed fully to inhabit my life, to matter?

         Eventually, I got up and looked out the doorless doorframe down the steps to the river.  My beloved Connecticut River was flowing gracefully past. My mind eased, its flow like the river.

         After some unmeasured period of time, I found myself back in camp. My experience did not seem odd in any way. It simply was. I never checked with the other meditating campers to see what their experiences had been.  I didn’t dwell on the meditation, but I never forgot it. I walked back into the gazebo and joyfully joined the Israeli dancing.

         The next summer, I did realize that I had never literally traveled out of the camp when I went to the castle with Reb Zalman. I aspire still to open my heart/mind to that same child-like curiosity, joy, awe, and acceptance that came so naturally to that wonder-stuck girl."

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