Meet Our Community: Avn Sturm, PhD Candidate in Mind-Body Medicine
I am presently living in Coconut Grove, Florida with my husband Kurt and two Black and White American short-haired cats named Oscar and Felix. Coconut Grove is a village in Miami that was settled by Bahamians and white settlers in the 1800s and became an artist colony in the 1940s – 1960s. My background is in Theater in performance, directing and writing. I have worked with my husband in professional film and video production and studio design, as well as computer software engineering. I went back to school and received both a Masters in Business Administration and a Masters in Public Administration with a specialization in Homeland Security Policy and Coordination (emphasizing emergency preparedness). For my MPA thesis, I focused on how the community is the actual first-responders. I found a resonance with working with people first as a director, then in organizational behavior in business school and finally in the importance of the community around us.
Saybrook first caught my eye in 2003 and I have keenly watched its development. After I graduated with my MPA in 2008, I decided to apply to Saybrook. To me, Saybrook was where I wanted to attain the jewel of my academic crown, a PhD. It is important to be a part of an institution that is comprised of such stellar human beings, which is the essence of humanistic psychology and life. At the first residential conference (RC), I had a chance to be amongst strangers and landed running. I say this because it is this exhilaration that I still get many RCs later. I especially like the structure of the RC because it establishes a foundation on which all learning is based at Saybook. In fact, it was at a Summer RC that I first learned Kundalini yoga and have continued my practice of it along with my husband. We are looking forward to becoming certified Kundalini instructors, so RCs can be both illuminating and motivational in encouraging one to continue practices learned at a RC.
I first came to Saybrook and was enrolled in the College of Human Science with a concentration in Social Transformation in 2008. I immediately loved Saybrook and its people at first sight as both a comfortable and dynamic fit and I still do. In 2009 there was a lot of change, Saybrook became a university and the College of Mind Body Medicine was created and received accreditation. I felt a tug, a calling and my own hero’s journey began. I am in the Mind Body Medicine PhD program – practice track. My husband and I will be relocating to San Francisco so I can be closer to my work and closer to Saybrook University. I have learned about different modalities including biofeedback, coaching, hypnosis and mind body skills groups for certification. My dissertation deals with Ayurveda and I will also begin Ayurvedic practitioner training post doc.
The words ‘Begin again’ were inscribed on a stone that I used in my Mind Body skills group that I conducted. I remember the participants running their fingers over the words like a finger labyrinth. Often, it’s the little things delivered at the moment that are most needed and prove to be memorable. I have learned to respect my body, my mind and my spirit and to always strive to be present, listen deeply and engage others. I have found resonance in both the coaching course and the mind body skills group course. I have had the opportunity to use healing with words, actions and mindful intentions and realizing, through others, life changes and transitions. I have seen how valuable this work was to them. This work is gratifying and I feel it down to my bones. It teaches me to see compassionately what else I can accomplish by being there for others. My feelings for my cohorts (Fall 2009) are deep. They are my tribe and I have found that my tribe gets bigger and grows stronger with each semester. It is an honor to work with members of my immediate cohort and our sister cohorts in helping to heal ourselves through service to others. Saybrook helps you to embrace and utilize what lies within you. As Mind Body Medicine researchers, those working in healthcare organizations and as practitioners, we have a chance to help empower others to more actively participate in their self-care.