New Specialization at Sofia: Consciousness and Phenomenology Research Specialization (CPRS)

Mentorship and innovation in consciousness research since 2004

The new Consciousness and Phenomenology (CPRS) takes students on a fascinating journey of discovery of unusual, cutting edge topics and special research skills related to conscious awareness, human experience and the brain. In spirit of Wilson’s vision of the Science of Consilience which builds on the evidence from both science and humanities, CPRS spans the range of topical areas such as neurobiology, phenomenology of consciousness, philosophy of mind, textual studies in religion, and psychological phenomenology and metaphysics, to give students orientation in a spectrum of approaches applicable to research of ego-transcendent aspects of consciousness such as spiritual emergence, spiritual awakening, non-dual consciousness, subtle body, and transformative practices. CPRS also enhances the knowledge of more traditional but still enigmatic areas of study such as introspection, the self- no-self problem, optimization of consciousness, consciousness “hacking”, complexity theory or phenomenological ontology. Our goal is to train students in the rigor in comparative and interdisciplinary research approaches which preserves integrity of specific knowledge within the disciplines; as a result, RSCP both enhances research skills on graduate level, and serves to prepare graduate students to post-graduate research. CPRS is recommended for students in the Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology and Master of Arts in Transpersonal Psychology (on-campus) programs; its’ classes in online format are available to all students enrolled in Sofia.

CPRS classes are packed with hands-on innovative, transformative transpersonal pedagogy, including contemplative techniques which help to intensify memorization and learning.  Specialization supports student research initiatives early on in their dissertation writing; CPRS students receive individual guidance in self-directed studies and individual study tracks.

CPRS classes include, but are not limited to:

  • Researching Religious and Spiritual Experience
  • Neurophenomenology
  • Phenomenology of Perception and Embodiment
  • Research in Spiritual Emergence and Spiritual Awakening
  • Cross-Disciplinary Research Approaches in the Study of Meditation
  • Complexity theory
  • Transpersonal research in ecopsychology (with outdoor field studies of bio-energies of nature)
  • Research in empirical metaphysics: Enlightenment
  • Foundations of Phenomenological Method
  • Research and Electronic Information Technologies
  • Comparative research approaches
  • Research labs on specific topics
  • Other classes in areas of emergent interest

CPRS enhances the possibilities of your future employment and enriches your life by engaging research areas that truly advance one’s consciousness and open it to the earth, society and spirit. CPRS supports you in publishing your work, making presentations at the professional conferences, networking, developing the portfolio-worthy projects, and becoming an expert with broad range of professional and interdisciplinary research skills. Enroll in CPRS to learn how to do research-related networking, publish your research, and connect your innate soul quest with your academic research agenda.

Contact: CPRS Founding Director, Olga Louchakova –Schwartz,


7 Things Mindful People Do Differently Everyday and How to Begin Now! by: Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

The intention of being more present in our lives is continuing to grow and touch an increasing amount of people. I have friends who I never would have imagined practicing mindfulness who now sit in daily meditation. When I look at the Seattle Seahawks, think of our Army Vets or politicians sitting in the “Quiet Caucus” room, I’m filled with a whole lot of hope. When I see an increasing amount of kids and teens being taught mindfulness in their schools I see possibility. My wife and I ran a family retreat at Denim N’ Dirt Ranch and long before the deadline it was sold out showing me an increasing desire of parents wanting to bring this into their families. As people start to engage mindfulness I’ve noticed a few things they begin to do differently.

Here are 7 things people who practice mindfulness do differently:

Practice Being Curious


One of the essential attitudes of mindfulness is beginner’s mind. This is engaging something as if for the very first time. People who practice mindfulness bring this attitude with them throughout the day. When they take a shower, they might imagine it was the first time feeling the water, smelling the soap, or watching the steam as it shifts and changes before their eyes. Novelty is one of the fastest routes to creating new neural connections.

Even a meal or snack becomes a chance to pause and reflect on how this simple peace of food holds everything in it, the earth, wind, rain and sunshine. All the people from around the world who contributed in making the ingredients and putting them together into what it is in that moment. This simple snack becomes a source of gratitude and a moment of recognizing the interconnection of all things.

Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Life is routine and routine is resistance to wonder.” Curiosity leads the mindful person to get back in touch with the wonders and possibilities of life.

Forgive Themselves


Life comes with its obstacles and engaging a mindful life is not too different. Throughout the process there are times when we get too tired to practice, feel too busy, find ourselves doubting the process, get caught in avoiding what’s uncomfortable or just feeling too restless.

In practicing mindfulness we come to understand that these are not signs of failing at being mindful. Instead they are opportunities for learning about the hindrances of life, what gets in our way, and understanding two things: 1) What we need in those moments and 2) The fastest route to begin again.

The simple phrase of “forgive and invite” can be enormously helpful. When we get caught in an obstacle, we “forgive” ourselves for the time gone by, investigate the obstacle to learn from it, and then “invite” ourselves to begin again.

Practicing “forgive and invite” over and over again in life becomes an incredible strong vehicle for growth.

Hold Their Emotions Lightly


When you start paying attention to any emotion you start to experience that it is an energy that is “in motion.” It has a certain nature of coming and going and in experiencing this we can naturally hold them more lightly. This enables us to not get so wrapped up in the difficult feelings, but instead hold them with a gentleness and tenderness. Maybe even learning from them as we get better and better at understanding what we need.

When the comfortable emotions are present we also hold those lightly as we know that are not permanent either, but have this same nature of coming and going. With this experience, people who practice mindfulness can be grateful for the good moments and graceful during the more difficult ones.

Practice Compassion


Compassion can be defined as noticing suffering with an inclination to want to help in some way. A repeated practice of intentionally paying attention to ourselves with a curious and caring attention sends the implicit message to our brain that we’re worth caring about. As we start to pay attention to difficult emotions we become less afraid of them.

Instead they become our teachers guiding us to get increasingly better at not only understanding what our needs are or the needs of others, but at inclining to help ourselves or another. This act of self-compassion or compassion is the essential healing agent and facilitates connection which is a cornerstone to happiness.

Make Peace with Imperfection


Many of us are keenly aware of our imperfections and this erupts in a barrage of continuous self-judgment. As we start to practice being present we can’t help but see that we are not the only one who is imperfect. To be imperfect is to be human.

The imperfections that arise become less of a struggle and instead a source of recognizing the common humanity of all people. As Zen priest Dogen Zenji said, “To be in harmony with the wholeness of things is to not have anxiety over our imperfections.” Easier said than done, but mindfulness leans us in that direction.

Embrace Vulnerability


Our brain’s default is to guard against vulnerability with ourselves and with others. However, someone who practices mindfulness comes to understand that vulnerability is where the gold is. From embracing vulnerability we develop courage, trust and connection. It takes courage to take the leap and be vulnerable, as we do this we begin to trust ourselves and others and in doing this we cultivate connection which allows us to feel safe and be happy. Of course this doesn’t mean we are vulnerable everywhere and at all times, we can be discerning about this, but slowly we begin to trust ourselves more and more.

Understand that All Things Come and Go


If there is one singular law in life it is that nothing is permanent (except that law of course). When we close our eyes and listen we hear how sounds appear and disappear. When we open our eyes we see how over time the seasons change how nature looks. Food comes in our mouths, the taste is there and then it’s gone. We’re born on this earth, we grow up and eventually pass away.

As we practice mindfulness, we come to understand this and in this way, life becomes increasingly precious. We begin to put our phones down more often and open our eyes to the sacred moments all around us. As I continue to hear over and again from any parent, “It all goes by so fast.” May we learn to savor this precious life.

Many people ask the question, “How do you start?”


The 15th century poet Kabir said, “Wherever you are that’s the entry point.” My wife had an interesting experience where she was home alone with our two boys. She wanted to do a meditation, but there was no space for it. A rare occurrence of our two boys playing in their room alone together opened her up to an idea. The entry point for her was to use sounds as her practice.

She sat on the couch, closed her eyes and opened up to listening. She heard the birds chirping, the chimes ringing and the sounds of the boys playing. She had a nice 20-minute meditation.

There are so many ways to begin, begin where you are.


Elisha Goldstein, PhD

PS – Thank you to Dharma Comics and Buddha Doodles for their wonderful comics. One way to get started, reconnect or deepen your mindfulness practice is to take the 28 Day Challenge with the new online program Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program. Enjoy!

Adapted from Mindfulness and Psychotherapy.  Republished with permission from Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.  Originally posted at:



Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is in private practice in West Los Angeles. He is author of The Now Effect: How this Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life and coauthor of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn (New Harbinger).

He synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing. He contends that we have the power to transform our traumas and habitual patterns that keep us stuck in perpetual stress, anxiety, depression, or addiction and step into greater freedom and peace. He offers practical strategies to calm our anxious minds, transform negative emotions and facilitate greater self acceptance, freedom and inner peace.

Dr. Goldstein, who comes from a family of psychologists, advocates that mental health comes from an approach that looks at all aspects of the self – physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual.

As a licensed Psychologist, he teaches mindfulness-based programs on his own and through InsightLA. He has spoken at the UCLA Semel Institute and Anxiety Disorder Clinic, the UCLA Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Conference headlining Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield, and Dr. Daniel Siegel, University of Washington, among others, and is the author of the popular Mindfulness and Psychotherapy blog on and He has been published in The Journal of Clinical Psychology and quoted in the New York Daily News, Reuters, NPR, UCLA Today, Body & Soul, Focus, and The Week Magazine.

His previous popular CDs include Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and Relapse Prevention, Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at work, Mindful Solutions for Adults with ADD/ADHD (produced in collaboration with Lidia Zylowska M.D.) and an online multimedia program, Mindfulness, Anxiety, and Stress.

He currently offers individual and group psychotherapy in West Los Angeles and does mindfulness-based coaching nationally and internationally via the phone.