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Mindfulness in Professional Practice

See how 5 graduates of our Mindfulness Studies master's degree program are applying what they've learned in various industries.

Mindfulness is a practice that helps us to attain balance, further resilience, improve and maintain well-being, and reduce stress. While its roots are in Buddhist traditions of contemplative practice, the mindfulness movement is now transforming the western world.

Not only are people using mindfulness in their daily lives, but professionals are applying mindfulness within a range of careers, such as healthcare, counseling, education, and business, among many others.  

At Lesley University, you can get a master’s degree or a graduate certificate in Mindfulness Studies—the first academic programs of their kind in the nation. Most of our students are working when they enroll, but throughout their studies and after they graduate, they identify emerging fields and revolutionize existing ones through the inclusion of mindfulness. 

To illuminate how our students align their studies to their life experiences and careers, here are 5 graduates’ accomplishments in various industries.  


Lauren Ruben 18, New Parent Support Group Facilitator, Jewish Family and Children’s Service 

Lauren Ruben discovered the benefits of mindfulness after the birth of her second child. Lauren spent years cultivating her mindfulness practice while supporting parents through their child’s first year in her role as a New Parent Support Group Facilitator. Once her children were grown, Lauren enrolled in Lesley’s master’s degree program in Mindfulness Studies.

For Lauren, the graduate program illuminated the potential of using mindfulness when working with expectant parents. “It became clear to me how powerful it could be for parents to have a solid foundation in mindfulness practice before the baby arrived. There is not a day that goes by where I’m not using these skills,” she says.

Lauren developed this idea in her thesis, Promoting Secure Attachment Through Parental Mindfulness and Meditation, The SAMMP Curriculum, where she designed a 7-week introductory mindfulness curriculum for expectant parents to help them foster secure attachments with their newborns. 

Lauren describes how mindfulness and awareness training enhances new parents’ ability to cope and adjust to a crying baby. “It helps them recognize that their baby is not crying to torment them but simply communicating in the only way they can,” she says. “It helps parents learn not to take it personally and that they have a choice of how to think about it.” 

In 2016, Lauren founded Dharmamumma, where she offers workshops, classes, and individual sessions on mindfulness. While she has a passion for working with mostly first-time parents, she also provides introductory mindfulness courses, mindful approaches to address racial bias, and open mindfulness sessions. She hopes that others will benefit from the transformative power of mindfulness practice. 

"I benefited from the supportive community in the Mindfulness Studies program and the guidance when it came to my final thesis. The teachers are wonderful guides and cheerleaders through to thesis writing.”
Lauren Ruben ’19, MA in Mindfulness Studies

Vertis Williams 20, Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Minnesota National Guard

Vertis Williams uses his mindfulness training in his role as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Working with soldiers at the Minnesota National Guard Substance Abuse Program, Vertis conducts assessments for substance use disorders as well as teaches classes on the topic.

He also uses mindfulness strategies, such as focused attention meditation, to help his clients prevent relapses. “Addiction is a loss of control, and mindfulness is about bringing awareness to how your mind and body are feeling and how things are going in that moment,” Vertis says. 

Vertis explains that relapse is often a part of addiction and that traumatic experiences or stress can play a role in relapse. When a person has negative feelings, their instinct is to want to do something to resolve it. Vertis helps people interrupt negative thought processes with mindfulness. “Mindfulness reminds you that all thoughts are transient and temporary. Things might be uncomfortable or difficult right now, but you don’t have to do anything right now,” he says.

While at Lesley University, Vertis conducted a qualitative study of individuals in recovery to understand themes within mindfulness that were beneficial to them. His thesis research—Mindfulness: Coping Without a Substance—reinforced his integration of mindfulness practices into chemical dependency counseling. 

One of the biggest takeaways from Lesley’s graduate program was learning that mindfulness can have a significant positive impact. “If you can introduce an intervention early on, you can change the trajectory of somebody's life,” he says.


Yasemin Isler ’18, Grief Coach and Founder of TunedMinds

Yasemin Isler is a certified mindfulness and compassion teacher, grief coach/educator, and end-of-life doula. She works with people of all ages who are bereaved, living with illness, at the end of life, caregiving, or grieving other losses. She is the founder and principal of TunedMinds, which is a coaching, training solutions, and consulting company that partners with leaders, organizations, and individuals.

Yasemin began practicing mindfulness when she was 16 years old, but her time at Lesley gave her new perspectives. She learned the foundations, academics, and the science of the practice, giving her a holistic understanding that enhanced her existing work in the field.  

Her thesis, where she designed a curriculum for supporting grief, grew out of her work as a grief coach. As a foundation for courses, healing circles, and retreats she offers, the Mindfulness, Compassion, and Community for Grief (MCCG) curriculum uses mindfulness and compassion to create awareness of and to hold space for grief as a way toward healing. Now, Yasemin is working on turning the curriculum into a book.  

Yasemin Isler Mindfulness Studies graduate
Mindfulness Studies master's degree graduate Yasemin Isler
"I benefited from the community of learners I found in my cohort. We were able to share our work and experiences.”
Yasemin Isler ’18, MA in Mindfulness Studies

Larissa Hall Carlson 19, Ayurvedic Yoga Practitioner and Teacher

An Ayurvedic yoga practitioner and teacher, Larissa Hall Carlson specializes in providing training in mindfulness and yoga practices for professional musicians. She has taught mindfulness at the Tanglewood Music Center, Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee with the goals of helping musicians enhance their performance and reduce their performance anxiety.

While at Lesley, she saw her master’s degree thesis as an opportunity to dig deeper into mindfulness research and neuroscience and to discover approaches that could benefit this niche audience of elite performers. “The thesis project helped me organize my thoughts around how to share my learning in a bigger way with the world,” says Larissa, who hopes to develop her initial work—Mindfulness for Optimal Performance for Musicians—into a book. “The thesis supported me in doing something that has helped me to take my career to the next level,” she says.

Since graduating, Larissa has created a free online mini-course to reduce performance anxiety and has developed a 3-week Mindful Reset course for performers. Larissa has also designed a 10-day Mindful Musicianship online course for Insight Timer, a popular (and free) meditation app. 

Larissa Hall Carlson Mindfulness Studies graduate
Mindfulness Studies graduate Larissa Hall Carlson
"The Mindfulness Studies master’s degree program provides a well-rounded curriculum that supports students in discovering which particular niche of mindfulness they delve into for greater understanding and insight.”
Larissa Hall Carlson ’19, MA in Mindfulness Studies

Charles Morris ’19, Former Director of Global Learning and Development, Microsoft 

As Microsoft’s Director of Global Learning Development, Charles Morris created and led professional development programs for Microsoft employees, including on-boarding, growth mindset, values, and other topics. In this role, he also brought his longtime personal mindfulness practice into the company to support employee well-being.  

“I started to see corporations betting on mindfulness, and that inspired me to create a program for Microsoft. That’s where Lesley’s graduate program came in. It helped to build my confidence that I could have the credentials and understanding of mindfulness to say yes, I am an expert,” says Charles.

Charles used the skills he gained in the Mindfulness Studies master’s degree program to ensure that the professional development training in mindfulness he created for Microsoft was grounded in current theory and science. He also conveyed the benefits of mindfulness to others in the corporate world to get buy-in. “Learning the language used in the mindfulness world, and the science behind the practice, became incredibly important,” he says.

While Charles promotes mindfulness to support employees’ mental health and well-being in fast-paced industries, he cautions that mindfulness is more than its reputation as a stress relief tool. “It’s an entry point where people get interested, then they can discover the other benefits down the road,” he explains. 

For his master’s degree thesis—Technology-Aided Meditation at Work: Evaluating the Impact of Biofeedback on a Mindfulness Program in the Workplace—Charles merged his experiences with technology and mindfulness. In a mixed-method study at Microsoft, he explored the use of biofeedback devices to boost the confidence of people who were new to meditation.

After a 20-year career at Microsoft, Charles recently left the company to pursue his PhD in Depth Psychology: Jungian and Archetypal Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

"In the Mindfulness Studies program, there’s a balance between the guided curriculum and open-ended nature where you can make it yours.”
Charles Morris ’19, MA in Mindfulness Studies

Learn more about Mindfulness Studies at Lesley University

Like the graduates we’ve featured, you can infuse mindfulness into your career based on your interests and goals. Our interdisciplinary curriculum creates room for exploration, encourages personal practice, and integrates the skills you need to apply mindfulness to just about any field.

Are you ready to start your journey in Mindfulness Studies? Learn more about our convenient low-residency graduate programs where you’d come to campus in dynamic Cambridge, MA, once for 7 days, then continue your studies remotely. You can even begin with the 15-credit graduate certificate program and continue to the master’s degree. 

Programs begin once a year, in September, so get started today!


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