Biographies of our faculty
Teaching Staff and Advisors
Dr. Meyrav Mor
Meyrav is a trained Waldorf kindergarten/primary teacher (1996 Waldorf Institute of Southern California) and completed an additional Waldorf primary teacher training with a focus on teaching additional languages (2004 Antioch New England Graduate School, USA).
Meyrav completed her postgraduate in teaching early elementary education at the University of Brighton, UK. She has a Master of Education degree from Antioch New England Graduate School (2004). Meyrav received her Ph.D. (2017) from Bath University in the UK. Her doctorate studies focused on designing a transformative education and curriculum model for traditional communities that keep them connected to their spiritual heritage, natural environment and cultural knowledge.
Between 1996 – 2015, Meyrav set up the first two Waldorf schools in Nepal and two kindergartens in England. She has taught kindergarten (Israel, Nepal and UK), primary class 1-8 (Nepal and UK) and children with special needs (Nepal, UK). For the past 25 years Meyrav has been training kindergarten and primary school teachers in Nepal, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Israel, and the UK. At the same time, Meyrav has been developing curricula that cater to the heritage of communities around the world by interweaving transformative and experiential learning with culture and spirituality. Her work brings together the Waldorf methodology and the traditions of specific communities to help them transition to the 21st century without losing their spiritual heritage and valuable traditional knowledge. She has written two books about this subject: Fire in the Heart: A Teacher Training Manual for the Himalayan Region (2000), and Preserving the past, Reserving the Future: A Culturally Sensitive Early Childhood Curriculum for Tibetan Children in Exile (2003).
Meyrav came to Buddhism in 1997 a year after she moved to Nepal. She had the good fortune to receive teachings since then from many great Buddhist masters. From 2000, when Meyrav established the Tashi Waldorf School in Nepal, she has been developing a Buddhist curriculum for children from Tibet and the high Himalayas.
Since 2016 Meyrav’s sole focus has been on bringing together her wealth of knowledge and expertise to develop the Abiding Heart Transformative Experiential Buddhist Education approach for kindergarten through to class 8. This education approach, which includes curriculum design and content, and teacher training courses, can be used by Buddhist and non-Buddhist communities around the world. Meyrav is the director of Abiding Heart Education, which has bases in USA and Nepal where this new education approach and curriculum is offered to regional and international trainees through online and in-person comprehensive teacher training courses.
Dr. Elizabeth Swanepoel
Elizabeth has been a Steiner/Waldorf teacher for nearly 26 years and has worked in all three sectors of the Waldorf school system: As a kindergarten assistant, fifteen years as a high school English teacher in a large, well-established, independent Waldorf school in Johannesburg, and then as a Steiner primary class teacher. She has been a Steiner/Waldorf teacher trainer since 2004 and served as a deputy administrator at the school in Johannesburg.
Elizabeth holds a M.Ed. in Steiner/Waldorf education and a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism. She is the author of The Female Quest for Enlightenment: Western Nuns Transforming Gender Prejudice in Tibetan Buddhism. She has also published various papers in peer-reviewed academic journals. Elizabeth currently works as a primary class teacher at the Waikato Waldorf School in Hamilton, New Zealand. She is the editor of SCOPE, the Anthroposophical Society of New Zealand's quarterly publication. Elizabeth is married and she has three children and two cats.
Dr. David Vago
Dr. David Vago is Research Associate Professor and Director of the Contemplative Neuroscience and Mind-Body (CNMB) Research Laboratory in the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University. He is core training faculty for the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation. Dr. Vago maintains a research associate position in the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Vago is also Research Lead for the mental health and well-being platform, Roundglass.
Dr. Vago has been practicing meditation for over 25 years with training in a number of traditions, including S.N. Goenka's style of Vipassana, contemporary insight and mindfulness training, Unified Mindfulness with Shinzen Young, and Dzogchen/Mahamudra with Choknyi Nyima Rinpoche.
Dr. Isabelle Onians
Isabelle received her doctorate in oriental studies from the University of Oxford (2002). She came to Kathmandu in 1990 as a volunteer teacher in a Tibetan monastery school and returned in 1992–1993 to study Tibetan and Sanskrit at Tribhuvan University.
Isabelle’s research and experience have focused on classical philosophical, religious, and literary texts. She has studied those texts in the context of exposure to and interaction with contemporary cultures, people, politics, and landscapes, principally along the Himalayas, in the Tibetan regions and neighboring areas, and in South Asia. Her dissertation examined an apparent paradox in Tantric Buddhism, using Indian and Tibetan sources. Isabelle was a founding member of the Clay Sanskrit Library team, preparing bilingual editions and translations of Sanskrit literature. In addition to managing and co-editing the whole series, her own volume is a 7th-century coming-of-age novel, a Sanskrit narrative of 10 young men’s experiential education and study abroad.
Isabelle has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at the Universities of Oxford and London and at Mahidol University in Bangkok. She has researched and lectured at institutions across the world and led a Royal Geographical Society Oxford University expedition to the Tibetan plateau.
Dr Gay Watson
Gay Watson was born and brought up beside the sea in Sussex, UK. After a varied career as a researcher for television, running and curating a gallery and craft shop, parenting and farming, she returned to study in mid-life, gaining an BA Hons degree followed by a D.Phil in Religious Studies from SOAS, University of London. Simultaneously she trained as a psychotherapist with the Karuna Institute of Core Process Psychotherapy. Bringing these various strands together she has written extensively about Buddhism and psychotherapy and, more recently, art. The Resonance of Emptiness; A Buddhist Inspiration for a Contemporary Psychotherapy (1998), her published thesis was followed by Beyond Happiness, Deepening the Dialogue Between Buddhism, Psychotherapy and the Mind Sciences (2008), A Philosophy of Emptiness (2014), and Attention, Beyond Mindfulness (2017). She is a wife, mother and grandmother.
At Abiding Heart, Dr Gay Watson teaches in our Child Development course.
Marianna Bauko has been a Eurythmy (a meditative form of movement) therapist and teacher for the past twenty five years. She completed a four-year Steiner/Waldorf teacher training in Hungary and then continued to be trained as a Eurythmy pedagogical teacher. After several years of teaching in Budapest, Marianna trained in Eurythmy therapy in Dornach, Switzerland.
As a therapist, Marianna worked in South Africa, Hungary, Switzerland and Scotland with children and adults with special needs and in an anthroposophical hospital with seriously ill patients. Currently, Marianna is working as a Eurythmy teacher and as a therapist in the Edinburgh Steiner School with children from kindergarten through to high school. Her therapeutic work focuses on helping children in their learning using mindfulness, movement, speech, and music. Marianna's therapeutic work supports children to be able to reach their potential in a healthy way, working with their constitution, with illnesses, unbalances, mental and emotional difficulties, and learning hindrances through the art of this meditative form of movement, Eurythmy.
At Abiding Heart, Marianna Bauko has been teaching meditative movement connected with speech and sound. Marianna also forms meditative movement sequences specifically designed for the Abiding Heart Primary curriculum, which she teachers on our primary teacher training course.
Born in Montana, Torey Hayden has spent most of her adult life working with children in distress. Now living in the UK, she provides counseling and advice services to several child-oriented charities.
Torey is the author of numerous internationally best-selling books about her experiences as a special education teacher and therapist such as "One Child", "Ghost Girl" and "Invisible Girl". She has also written three novels and three children's books, including "Ziji" and "Ziji and the Very Scary Man" with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche.
At Abiding Heart, Torey Hayden is currently the lecturer for our As It Is: Understanding Children with Special Needs course.
Tenzin Chozom is a Canadian who trained in a traditional education as a Tibetan Buddhist nun in India and Tibet for eighteen years. Following that, she completed a PhD on the modernisation of Tibetan Buddhist practices. Elizabeth currently lives in Sydney, translating for the Gebchak lineage and teaching mindfulness at a natural health college.
Professor Stephen Gough
Stephen Gough is Emeritus Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Bath. His research focus has been to understand the ways in which people form beliefs and preferences about their relationship with the natural world. Since formal retirement in 2016, Stephen has retained a link to Abiding Heart, and also to the University of Iceland where he is a PhD supervisor. He has also served as a Director of Mountaineering Scotland.
Lama Shenpen Hookham
Lama Shenpen Hookham is a Buddhist teacher who has trained for over fifty years in the Mahamudra and Dzogchen traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. She has spent over 12 years in meditation retreat. She produced a seminal study of the profound Buddha Nature doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism, for which she was awarded a doctorate from Oxford University and which is published as 'The Buddha Within' (SUNY press 1991). She is also the author of 'There’s More to Dying than Death' and the translator and editor of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche’s seminal work 'Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness' which has been translated into many different languages and is considered a standard text teaching meditation students to connect to the experience of Emptiness. She has recently published her autobiography: 'Keeping the Dalai Lama Waiting and other stories' and her newest book published by Shambhala Publications is 'The Guru Principle: A Guide to the Teacher-Student Relationship in Buddhism' She lives in North West Wales, spending most of her time in semi-retreat and working with her students and on her writing.
At Abiding Heart, Lama Shenpen Hookhan teaches Buddhist philosophy and meditation on our Foundation Studies course. She also advises on Buddhist-related content in the curriculum studies section of our courses.
Kristin Powers is a sculptural installation artist focused on the varied visual languages distorted through our mind’s eyes.
Holding a BFA in Ceramics from Rhode Island School of Design, Powers is a current MFA candidate ‘22 in Sculpture at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Kristin is a Waldorf Highschool Art Teacher and Mentor, working with students and teachers in training. She co-founded Trikeenan Tileworks in 1990, an artisan ceramic tile and glazed brick manufacturer. Born in Chicago, raised in England and Canada, Powers is now based in Boston teaching experiential art remotely in China and Nepal, as well as conducting research and curriculum planning.
“I am a practicing kindergarten teacher in Titirangi Rudolf Steiner Kindergarten where I have been working for the past 30 years.
In the last 12 years, I have been privileged to share experience and understanding in China, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand and now Nepal. This has broadened and deepened my appreciation of what is universal to child development and what is unique in every culture.
I am particularly interested in the healing aspect of Steiner/Waldorf early childhood education and the balance and joy into our children’s lives.”
Jane has a BA degree in Drama from Bretton Hall College, where she specialised in theatre design and production, and a PGCE in Primary Education from Kingston University. She currently works part-time in Communications in the Higher Education sector. Jane lives in Sussex, UK, and in her free time is active in school fundraising and is Chair of a community theatre group.