…when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are. – Ram Dass

…when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.

– Ram Dass

Lara Liesma Wolff, MA

About 15 years ago, a nurse suggested mindfulness meditation to me when I was experiencing a jumble of concerning health issues and depression. She recommended a book by Pema Chödrön, and I found it at my local bookstore shelved under “self-help”. Grumbling to myself about how she must have been a lazy and terrible nurse to send me away with a self-help book recommendation instead of giving me practical ideas, tests, or medicine, I grudgingly took it home and began reading Start Where You Are.

I experimented with meditation for 5 minutes a day and gradually began to notice a sense of spaciousness in my daily life. Lightness seeped in to where negativity had taken a strong hold, and my troubles and health issues were no longer as dire. I began to view others differently, too. Noticing this shift inspired me to keep practicing, and just a couple months later, my mother was given a terminal cancer diagnosis. 

Not only did mindfulness give me tools to work with what was happening with my own life and body, it helped me stay as present as I could for my mother (and for myself) during a devastating time of loss. It helped me find gratitude for our time left instead of flying full-force into the panic of an unknown future without her.

Years later, after volunteering in hospice bereavement, and inspired by the team of caring professionals that helped my mother in her last days, I chose to attend Naropa University – a Buddhist-inspired school that was founded by Pema Chödrön’s teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

The foundation of my training is in mindfulness-based transpersonal psychology, which can be defined in many ways but essentially means that I hold a strengths-based and non-pathologizing approach to people and their challenges. I believe we all possess intrinsic health. I operate from a humanistic and existential perspective, acknowledging that we all inevitably encounter difficulties in our lives, but how we work with them and make meaning is key. I offer a compassionate, nonjudgmental, and collaborative space for you to comfortably and safely explore your challenges and to try on new ways of being in the world. I meet you where you are, and together we navigate your world. Therapy is never a one-size-fits-all model!

In addition to my meditation practice, I’ve also had a regular yoga practice for 10 years. Through my own experiences practicing mindfulness, I believe intentional and focused efforts can help us tune in to ourselves to live fully embodied and with more self-compassion, self-acceptance, and equanimity (and much less reactivity). I believe in approaching wellness holistically–our bodies hold deep information and wisdom, so we’ll utilize that information, too.

As a master’s graduate from Naropa University, which specializes in contemplative Buddhist psychology to understanding and treating people (mind, heart, body, soul), I have extensive training in:

  • Meditation and mindfulness-based interventions
  • Gestalt
  • Creative-expressive interventions
  • Body-centered approaches
  • Grief and loss
  • Spirituality
  • Life and career transitions
  • Chronic pain and/or illness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Relationship issues
  • Self-esteem
  • Trauma/PTSD
  • Adolescents
  • LGBTQ individuals and their families