I am a holistic physician, mindfulness coach, scientist, wife, mother, devoted student of transformation, long-time athlete, and occasional poet. My passion is supporting people of all ages in enhancing their well being and discovering the Still Quiet Place within. I have the privilege of being recognized by my peers as a visionary and pioneer in the fields of holistic medicine and mindfulness for youth.
I’ve offered mindfulness to young people from pre-K to college undergrads in socioeconomically diverse school and community settings. I’ve conducted two research studies evaluating the benefits of teaching mindfulness to child-parent pairs and to children in low-income elementary schools. These research projects were conducted in collaboration with the Department of Psychology at Stanford University.
To support others in discovering the joy and peace of the Still Quiet Place I have written a book, A Still Quiet Place: A Mindfulness Program for Teaching Children and Adolescents to Ease Stress and Difficult Emotions, and created two CDS: Still Quiet Place: Mindfulness for Young Children and Still Quiet Place: Mindfulness for Teens.
Transformational Life Coaching
In the summer of 1989, I was a recently married, competitive bicyclist just about to start my second year of medical school. One ordinary Saturday as a young, naïve, arrogant medical student I did an extraordinary thing: I accepted the invitation of a fellow cyclist (a long time companion on a shared path of Self-discovery) to attend a workshop with her transformational life coach, Ms. Georgina Lindsey. In 1989 life coaching wasn’t exactly common, especially for medical students. (Even today, with coaching available in person, by phone, and via the web for people seeking support in any aspect of their lives, truly transformational heart-based coaching is exceedingly rare.)
My first intimate seminar experience with Ms. Lindsey’s Transformational Technologies (now Naked Grace Transformational Coaching) changed my life. During the seminar, Ms. Lindsey ’diagnosed’ each person’s act (their habitual way of thinking, feeling and interacting with the world). My ego wasn’t thrilled with the ‘diagnosis’ of my act— “poor me.” And, the heart was elated by its homecoming to the realm (recognized by many names) which I have come to know, love, and personally name the Still Quiet Place.
For 26 years, it has been my great good fortune to be coached by Ms. Lindsey on a weekly basis. Her pioneering and evolutionary work is an ongoing synthesis of physiology, psychology, consciousness, healing, creativity, and ontology (the philosophy of being). Over the years Ms. Lindsey has persistently encouraged me to step through fears and limiting preconceptions. Her coaching has seen me through medical school, residency, the delights and challenges of marriage and parenting, and all of the experiences that have led to the creation and development of the Still Quiet Place offerings.
For the last ten years it has been my profound privilege to apprentice with Ms. Lindsey. In a culture with a penchant for weekend workshops, a rigorous and intimate apprenticeship with a true master (one who has attained mastery) is priceless. Even now, as I write this, her skillful combination of hard-won wisdom, lighthearted humor, keen intuition, and loving compassion continues to facilitate the joyful expression of my deepest passions and creative gifts, supporting me in inspiring others to discover their natural inner peace and happiness.
In the winter of 1990 I had two cycling “accidents” in short succession. My work with Ms. Lindsey helped me realize that things are not always as they seem, and that accidents are opportunities in disguise. While rehabilitating my knee, I received an announcement for the annual conference of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA). I had missed every deadline – registration, scholarship, and housing. Yet, I felt drawn to participate in this new world. Following Ms. Lindsey’s coaching to “live from vision rather than circumstance,” I sent in my application.
As fate, (or “Naked Grace”), would have it, a woman canceled at the last minute, and I received her slot, scholarship and housing! Arriving at the conference I had the undeniable experience of coming home – again! In contrast to most of my experiences in medical school the physicians in the AHMA treated their patients as whole human beings (rather than as diseases) and supported them in optimizing their health and well-being. Not only did they truly enjoy their work, they also lived balanced, healthy lives.
After returning from the conference, I boldly sent a brief letter to the AHMA board of trustees suggesting creative ways the organization could nurture the natural holism in medical students and residents. Miraculously, four months after that conference I was asked to join the board of the AHMA, serving as the medical student trustee. In the early 1990s Holistic Medicine was an emerging field which many conventional doctors viewed with skepticism or disdain. The field consisted of a small group of dedicated physicians with private practices. Unlike now, there were no doctors who were household names, much less media personalities, no well-known, nationally recognized clinics, no departments of integrative medicine at major medical centers, and no National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NICAM).
In 1993 when the Bill Moyers PBS special, Healing and the Mind aired, I was a second year resident in Internal Medicine. As I watched the segment on the Stress Reduction Clinic at University of Massachusetts Medical Center, I had an undeniable longing to participate in the specific form of transformative work known as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). I read the book Full Catastrophe Living, written by the clinic’s director, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, and began a daily mindfulness practice.
The four years of fierce self exploration with Ms. Lindsey had nurtured my natural mindfulness and were ideal preparation for the focused program at U. Mass. Despite my minimal formal mindfulness practice, a familiar mixture of zeal, intuition, and faith, compelled me to contact Dr. Kabat-Zinn at the Stress Reduction Clinic, repeatedly! Coached to apply Ms. Lindsey’s distinction of “Outrageous Request,” I arranged to participate in comprehensive training in MBSR. The Stress Reduction Clinic accommodated my schedule; the director of my conventional internal medicine residency not only gave me a month to devote to studying mindfulness, she also gave me credit for attending the program and found funding to pay my tuition! For one vibrant Massachusetts October, I immersed myself in the study and practice of mindfulness. The training deepened my experience of the compassionate stillness which exists underneath our daily mental chatter.
Upon returning to my residency, I conducted a large-scale research trial on the benefits of offering mindfulness to patients with chronic pain and illness. (This was five years before the National Institute of Health established the Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, and 15 years before NICAM declared that the benefits of mindfulness were so well documented that mindfulness was no longer considered complimentary or alternative). Within the hospital, my undertaking was met with a combination of quiet support, curiosity, and outright resistance. Throughout this time, mindfulness and the coaching continued to enhance my capacity to experience peace and joy, which in turn intensified my commitment to sharing these practices with others.
One afternoon in 2000 (when my six-month-old daughter had begun to crawl, knocking over my son’s blocks, and drawing my attention away from him), my son, then three, asked if he could “meditate” with me. So I made up a short practice for him. One day shortly after that he felt sad and, not knowing exactly what I was offering, I asked if he would like to do a “Feelings meditation.” He said “yes.” Such simple family moments inspired me to begin distilling my experiences from the coaching and mindfulness into what are now the child-friendly phrase and playful practices of the Still Quiet Place.
(You can listen to “Feelings” by clicking below.)
Around this time in late 2000, both medical research and the daily news began documenting how our children and adolescents are suffering. Some suffer from the “normal” daily stress of living in our fast-paced, accomplishment driven, media-saturated world. Others suffer from epidemics of ADHD depression, anxiety, and bullying. Still others engage in a variety of self-harming behaviors including over-eating, anorexia, using drugs and alcohol, engaging in care-less, unprotected sex, cutting, and suicide. Knowing that years of scientific research had demonstrated that mindfulness relieves adult stress, depression, anxiety, and hostility, encouraged me to offer the simple practices I had created for my son to more children, expanding the Still Quiet Place out of our family room and into the world.
As a doctor, researcher, and mother, I am committed to rigorously assessing the effects of teaching mindfulness to children. The preliminary data from my studies at Stanford, and the positive experiences of the children and families I have been privileged to serve have only increased my passion for this work.
It is more than heartwarming to witness children discover their natural peace and inner wisdom, and to see them bring these qualities into their daily lives. There is no reason that young people should wait until they are adults to learn these beneficial life skills.
Following the path, participating in the coaching, practicing mindfulness and bringing this work into my professional and personal life has frequently been challenged by my colleagues, my friends, my family, my husband, and often – most persistently – by my own limited thinking. Persevering, despite these challenges, has continually refined what is offered through me. The Still Quiet Place is the joyful alchemy of all the elements of my ongoing education – conventional medicine, transformational coaching, holistic medicine, mindfulness, and mothering.
Training & Affiliations
Dr. Saltzman’s ongoing research is designed to answer the following questions:
- Do children and teens benefit when they learn the life skills of mindfulness and remain familiar with the “Still Quiet Place” within?
- If young people learn to observe their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, are they less vulnerable to the unhealthy effects of stress?
- If children and teens are able to access their natural sense of peace and to trust their own inner wisdom, are they less susceptible to harmful peer influences and less likely to look for relief in potentially risky behaviors?
- When young people practice mindfulness does it enhance their natural emotional intelligence, increase respectful communication and compassionate action, support them in developing healthy relationships, and contributing their gifts to the world?
Her initial research was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Psychology at Stanford University, with the support of Amishi Jha, Ph.D., currently a Director of Contemplative Neuroscience, Mindfulness Research & Practice Initiative, University of Miami. Our first study evaluated the effects of offering the Still Quiet Place – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction curriculum to school-age children and their parents. Subsequently I began offering this same curriculum to 4th-12th graders in socioeconomically diverse schools and community settings in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In the first study, the Still Quiet Place curriculum was offered to 18 children and 18 parents in various child/parent combinations (1 child/1 parent, 2 children/1 parent, 1 child/2 parents, 2 children/2 parents). The results compared the participants to controls (N=30 children and 30 parents).
The children who participated in the study showed:
- Improvements in attention.
- Significant reductions in state anxiety.
- In written narrative the children also reported that they were:
- Less emotionally reactive.
- More compassionate with themselves and others.
These increases in focus, calmness, and kindness transformed how the children felt about themselves and produced meaningful differences in the children’s behavior at home and at school. These research results support teaching children these beneficial life skills now, well before they are troubled teens or stressed adults.
Parents who participated in the Still Quiet Place course also benefited. They experienced:
- Decreased anxiety.
- Increased ability to orient their attention.
- Increased mindful observation of their experience.
- Increased compassion with themselves and their children.
- Increased ability to interact effectively with their children.