About Me

Growing up, I was sure that my life would lead to and include one of the many arts that I so deeply loved and were such a refuge for me. I was one of those kids that listened to musicals and sang and danced around the house to them, painted, sculpted, read voraciously, (I especially loved any novels about religion) and, well, basically lived as much as possible in an alternate reality than the one I found myself in. Another theme of both passion and escape was physical activity. I love to move, dance, bike and hike, kayak, Yoga, even folding laundry, I like it! … I still do!

How my life turned to the sciences and medicine is a mystery, but that is where I ended up, in college studying math, physics and then biology. My early life at home was chaotic and frightening. Physics equations were elegant, true and clear. I loved the sense science began to make of the world to me. Now how to earn a living? Apply science to medicine while helping others; sounds good! Not my heart’s calling, but it worked really well for a long while.

Another way I was trying to make sense of the world was through spiritual teachings and practices. I grew up in an atheist household so I would ask the neighbors to take me to church with them. The Presbyterians, while quite wonderful, were not my path, but like so many in high school I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, and I knew I had found “my guy,” the Buddha spoke right to me, speaking so forthrightly about suffering (ah, I’m not alone!), and offering a clear path for the alleviation of it. Yes.

Fast forward many years…I am practicing medicine professionally, I am practicing meditation with wonderful teachers, going on retreats and becoming a certified Yoga teacher, and never the twain seemed to meet, until they did! In 1994, I saw a PBS documentary with Bill Moyers called “Healing from Within,” just from the title he already had my attention.  Here I saw Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a molecular biologist, teaching meditation and yoga to patients who looked a lot like my patients in a hospital conference room that looked like my hospital. I watched the VHS video from the library over and over. It lit a fire in me; I had found my true calling, all my worlds coming together in a cohesive, practical and beautiful way. I then found that Dr. Kabat-Zinn and colleagues at UMASS Medical School Worcester had teacher trainings for people like me to teach this Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) and thus began a new chapter. (Thank you Jon and CFM). My story by the way is not unique; the marriage between science and meditation is a sturdy one with loads of evidence based research behind it. The Buddha described neuroplasticity 2,500 years ago and the Dalai Lama and many others appreciate the science of meditation, (me too).

It was enough that I was able to start programs at my local medical center and cancer center, but then things grew organically, as word about our work spread. My life, work and play partner, master MBSR teacher, and human extraordinaire Hugh O’Neill and I started an organization called Mindful-Way and we began to be involved in research, schools, universities, non-profit organizations, and corporations. I never dreamed that I would present several times at the UMASS International Conference on Mindfulness, be invited to be on their faculty or teach internationally. But that is what evolved. (I also never dreamed I would become bookkeeper, marketing director, program registrar and all around schlepper.)

So now this is full time for me. Although I keep all my medical credentials up to date, I simply don’t have time to practice it…When people ask me how to have a ‘career in mindfulness’, after I gulp, I say first of all don’t make it a career, (it’s not a great or rather predictable earner, (we’re doing fine by the way), keep your day job, sit as many residential retreats as you can, find out how you are in the face of tremendous suffering, and then do it out of love… I know I am blessed to do what I love even when it is incredibly challenging, because it was what I called to do.

Two other things I’d like you know: I live in small stone house in the mountains of Southern California that I built myself, yes that is with my own hands, while living in a 17 ft ancient travel trailer. It was one of the greatest adventures of my life and I love this place, and have been here for over two decades. And being an introvert, it’s really hard to find (even with GPS) which I like. It feels sacred, private and safe and yet we love to welcome people to enjoy it with us, but only a little. We live with a very, low carbon footprint and very close connection with the natural world and all its creatures.

Lastly, I still am an artist, painting, drawing, and writing. I even recently wrote a book called the Dharma of Modern Mindfulness…

Professional Stuff:

  • BS Tufts University – Biology
  • Physician Assistant Certification Magna Cum Laude, Duke University
  • Certified Yoga Instructor
  • Certified MBSR international teacher/teacher trainer
  • Certified Mindful-Self Compassion International teacher/teacher trainer
  • Authorized Dharma teacher in Zen and Vipassana Buddhist traditions
  • Adjunct faculty: UMASS Medical School Center for Mindfulness, UC Irvine Center for Integrative Medicine, Loma Linda University, Department of Behavioral Medicine.
  • Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.
  • Hugh even made me a a “certificate of not needing a Certificate” everyone should have one, write us and we’ll see what we can do.
Copyright © 2010-2018 Beth Mulligan