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Mariana Caplan, Ph.D.
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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.

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.

Entries by Mariana Caplan, Ph.D.

Yoga and Psyche: The Birth of a Field

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 5:21 AM

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there," wrote Rumi. In April, 2014, a group of 200 yoga teachers, practitioners, psychologists, neuroscientists, and trauma researchers representing over a dozen countries, gathered together in San Francisco for The Yoga & Psyche Conference - the...

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Now We Begin Again

(2) Comments | Posted August 15, 2014 | 7:11 AM

"Now we begin again," begins The Yoga Sutras, one of the great texts outlying the foundations of all modern yoga. Today I sit down to write my ninth book. Since I was 1996, I published six books, wrote a seventh one I decided not to circulate because I outgrew the...

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Preventing Yoga Scandals: Why Yoga Needs Psychology

(0) Comments | Posted March 19, 2014 | 8:57 PM

Every year brings a new major scandal in the yogic field. The majority of scandals involve inappropriate sexual boundaries, but also frequently include power, money, and manipulation. Sometimes there is death. Most, though not all, occur among male teachers, both Eastern and Western.

I have been surprised to find...

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Science Demonstrates Yoga's Capacity to Heal the Mind

(2) Comments | Posted July 30, 2013 | 10:01 AM

I never thought I was interested in science. There were the "scientist" types and the "spiritual" types, and it wasn't spiritual to be interested in science. But then I grew up, became humbled and disillusioned in the ways that I believe life and the spiritual path are ultimately designed to...

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Yoga and Psyche: The Marriage of Ancient Wisdom and Depth Psychology

(0) Comments | Posted February 14, 2013 | 7:00 AM

What happens when the world's leading psychologists, cutting-edge trauma researchers, renowned modern yogis, and celebrated neuroscientists, all with a passion for spirituality, engage in insightful dialogue focused about what yoga has to teach psychology and how depth psychology can compliment yoga studies and practice for the Western practitioner?

As a...

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Navigating the Spiritual Jungle

(4) Comments | Posted June 29, 2012 | 2:22 PM

When I was asked to write a book on "premature claims to enlightenment" for a small book publisher in 1998, I could never have imagined that I would eventually find myself as the psychotherapist, confidant and "go to" person" for spiritual teachers and students, as well as disillusioned former students...

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The Soft Overcomes the Hard: Walking the Spiritual Path with Excruciating Humility

(1) Comments | Posted May 1, 2012 | 12:43 PM

I began my spiritual life as a hard core practitioner. I was one of those young women who, when I bought my one-way ticket to India, decided it would be cheating to have a guidebook as it might interfere with my inner guidance, or a suitcase, as I needed to...

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A Humbling Perspective on Oneness: There Really Is No Other

(1) Comments | Posted January 6, 2012 | 7:30 PM

As a young writer in my 20s, one of my mentors, bestselling author and sociologist Joseph Chilton Pearce, said to me, "When I really want to learn about something, I write a book on it. Then the real research begins as I begin to hear people's stories, and huge amounts...

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Karma and Psychology: Connecting the Dots

(16) Comments | Posted November 3, 2011 | 6:45 PM

If somebody had to live my life, why did it have to be me?!

As a young woman on the spiritual path, I was always both intrigued and bothered by the concept of karma. It just didn't seem accurate that everyone I knew who remembered a past life was a...

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When Spirituality Becomes a Mask

(31) Comments | Posted October 3, 2011 | 12:56 PM

We become skillful actors, and while playing deaf and dumb to the real meaning of the teachings, we find some comfort in pretending to follow the path. ~Chogyam Trunpga Rinpoche

Given that global culture has been turned toward materialistic values in a way unprecedented in human history, it is inevitable...

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Psychology and Spirituality: One Path or Two?

(44) Comments | Posted September 1, 2011 | 8:53 AM

There is great debate, and in many cases a sharp divide, between practitioners of psychology and those of spirituality. On one end of the spectrum, most of mainstream psychology does not concern itself with issues of consciousness and spirit and rejects what is not scientifically quantifiable. On the other end,...

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Why Spirituality Needs Psychology

(39) Comments | Posted August 13, 2011 | 10:50 AM

Many people get disillusioned on the spiritual path, and it is not because spiritual practices and approaches are not effective -- they are. If we sincerely engage spiritual disciplines -- whether meditation, contemplation, yoga or prayer -- our practices will bear fruits. We will have more experiences, insights, moments of...

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The Muddy Road to Enlightenment

(22) Comments | Posted May 17, 2011 | 9:00 AM

When I was 21, as a student at the University of Michigan, I went for a semester with a group of students to live in the woods of Maine to "learn to live deliberately," as we followed in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. One of...

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Reflections on the Death of Sathya Sai Baba: Discernment Is A Lifelong Process

(23) Comments | Posted May 4, 2011 | 12:02 PM

Another saint has passed. Spiritual leader and Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba died on April 24, 2011. Was he more saint or more sinner, who can ultimately say? He was, above all, a human being, just like every other significant spiritual teacher on the planet.

Although I never met Sathya...

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The Problem with Zen Boyfriends

(10) Comments | Posted November 29, 2010 | 10:24 PM

Some things just don't want to die. Much to my surprise, a little piece I published over 10 years ago, about a certain type of spiritual guy I found myself dating in my early twenties, set alight a dormant flame throughout the world. Originally published in the anthology "Radical Spirit,"...

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Is Guru a Four-Letter Word?: The Need for Discernment on the Spiritual Path

(65) Comments | Posted September 4, 2010 | 8:00 AM

The can of worms is open. Opening up the question on my last blog of "How To Find a Spiritual Teacher," or whether we need a teacher at all, tends to incite even the most dormant of creatures. We have strong reactions, powerful opinions and oftentimes righteous convictions regarding this...

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How to Find a Spiritual Teacher

(107) Comments | Posted August 19, 2010 | 8:00 AM

Rarely does a week of my life go by, without someone writing to me either looking for a spiritual teacher, confused about a spiritual teacher, or upset by a deep disillusionment by their spiritual teacher. The question of the spiritual teacher is a perennial question that in many ways is...

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10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases

(119) Comments | Posted June 15, 2010 | 8:00 AM

It is a jungle out there, and it is no less true about spiritual life than any other aspect of life. Do we really think that just because someone has been meditating for five years, or doing 10 years of yoga practice, that they will be any less neurotic than...

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