About Mariana Caplan, PhD, MFT

Mariana Caplan, PhD, MFT, is a psychotherapist, yogi, and the author of six books in the fields of psychology and spirituality, including the award-winning Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path (Sounds True, 2010), the seminal Halfway Up the Mountain: the Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment (Hohm Press, 1999), and The Guru Question: The Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher (Sounds True, 2011). As a psychotherapist, she specializes in using somatic approaches to therapy to support spiritual practitioners and teachers of all traditions and religions to heal trauma and thrive, as well as working with complex spiritual traumas within spiritual communities. As a yogi, she founded and teaches The Yoga & Psyche Method, which integrates the insights of somatic psychology, trauma research, neuroscience, and yogic practices, and The Yoga & Psyche Conference, the first international academic conference in the Western world that integrates yoga and Western psychology. She has been an adjunct professor at The California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco since 2001, as well as teaching extensively at Naropa University, Sophia University and John F. Kennedy University.

Her articles have been featured in magazines and journals including Shambhala Sun, Tricycle, ReVision and Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. Her new ideas are published regularly on her Huffington Post blog. Her personal essays have received critical acclaim, including the satire Zen Boyfriends, which was transformed into a musical, and Death Has No Mercy: A Memoir of a Mother’s Death, which was featured in Best Buddhist Writings of 2006. Her books are translated in over a dozen languages, and she has been teaching workshops at major retreat centers in the United States as well as internationally on the subjects of all of her books since 1997.

Beginning in her late teens and into her early 20s, Mariana set off around the world in search of wisdom, leading her into villages in Mexico, El Salvador, and Costa Rica to study shamanism and indigenous wisdom, as well as throughout the United States and Europe in pursuit of spiritual teachers, scholars, and global activists who embodied the knowledge that she longed for. Through as much error as trial, she quickly recognized that there were blind spots, confusion, and unconscious psychological patterns that were both informing her own path as well as the capacities of her teachers. She sought out a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology (California Institute of Integral Studies, 1994) to deepen her understanding of her own and her teachers’ psychological conditioning, and a Doctorate degree in Contemporary Spirituality (Union Institute and University, 2001), where her doctoral research on the guru-disciple relationship was published into the book Do You Need a Guru? Understanding the Student-Teacher Relationship in an Era of False Prophets (Thorsons, 2001), and later updated and revised under the title of The Guru Question: the Perils and Rewards of Choosing a Spiritual Teacher (Sounds True, 2011).

In 1994, Mariana began formal spiritual training under mariana_yogathe American Tantric teacher, Lee Lozowick and his guru Yogi Ramsuratkumar, with whom she lived in close proximity to for one year in the village of Tiruvannamalai, South India, where Ramana Maharshi’s influence lives until today. Although both of these masters have passed, she continues to practice in this spiritual lineage. A personal health crisis in her early thirties lead her to study and complete her teacher training in Ashtanga yoga under the guidance of Bhavani Maki, and since then an ongoing study of the physical, subtle, and esoteric aspects of yoga, mentored by great scholars including Georg Feuerstein and Robert Svoboda. She has also received mentorship and support from the Sufi Sheik Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Claudio Naranjo, and John Welwood.

Beginning with the publication of her forth book, Halfway Up the Mountain: the Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment in 1997, Mariana began to receive stories, now amounting into the tens of thousands, from spiritual practitioners who were disillusioned by their teachers, communities, practices, or simply the inability to change devastating psychological and relational patterns, in spite of long-term spiritual practice. Burning with the question of how not only spiritual awakening, but psychological integration and individuation occurs within one’s own body and actual life experience, Mariana began to immerse herself in somatic psychology, trauma research, and neuroscience, graduating from Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing training in 2010.

In addition to the ongoing depth psychological work with clients which forms the foundation and grounding of her research, Mariana began teaching The Yoga & Psyche Method in 2006 as a way of integrating the yogic and tantric training she had received with the groundbreaking insights and methods from trauma research, somatic psychology, and neuroscience. Since then, she has been training psychotherapists, counselors and health professionals how to integrate yogic wisdom – including the more esoteric methods – into their clinical practice, as well as training yoga teachers and practitioners to understand essential key psychological distinctions and effective treatment methods to support psychological integration in their own personal practices and teaching.

In 2011, Mariana began to work with a group of research interns – both yoga teachers interested in psychology, or psychologists and psychotherapists-in-training – to support the emerging of this new field of Western psychology and yoga to emerge at a more global level. Within two years, they created online dialogue interviews, published an academic article, completed research for a book and workbook, and created The Yoga & Psyche Conference: The Future of Psychology,  the first academic conference in the Western world on the intersection of yoga and psychology. The next Yoga & Psyche conference will be in San Francisco in Spring, 2016.

Presently, she is working on The Yoga & Psyche book and ever growing with her young son Zion.

The best is yet to come!