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Wok Practice Intensive: Volunteers

On Contacting Participants

Biographical information on the Practice Intensive participants follows below. In general, WoK readers will probably find the posted Practice summaries to provide a sufficient account of the participants' experience and perspectives, but if you wish to discuss a point directly with one of the participants, please send your email (with the name of the intended receiving participant) to the WoK Editor. (WoK does not guarantee that contacted participants will reply.)

Biographical Sketches


My age is 42 and I was born in Germany. After receiving a doctoral degree in mathematics I moved to the United States, where I have been living for 10 years. I work as a research scientist in the computer industry on the East Coast.

About 4 years ago I began to meditate and took an interest in Buddhism. I have been practicing in the Tibetan tradition, and feel particularly drawn towards the Dzogchen teachings. Besides that I also read with great interest about other non dual spiritual tradition, such as Zen or Advaita Vedanta.



My university training is in Mathematics. During my mathematical research on the foundation of mathematics, I realized that the closer you get to the deep questions of mathematics the closer you are to philosophical inquiries.

Having traveled in India, Nepal, Thailand and Laos I had the chance to interact with different cultures and systems. I was exposed to tantric yoga and various meditation techniques such as Vipassana meditation.

Although my domain is rarely seen as compatible with contemplative studies, I find that they require the development of the same qualities such as rigor, logic, concentration, intuition and open-mindedness. I intend to continue in parallel both paths and would like to see them merge.


Maria Yung

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan and moved to Hong Kong when I was 6 years old. My family immigrated to the United States when I was 9 years old and I have lived in California, Bay Area, since.

After receiving my undergraduate degree in Economics from UCLA, I worked for 6 years in commercial real estate, managing various office buildings in downtown San Francisco. The job was demanding and not quite satisfying. I couldn't see myself in that career for the rest of my life. When I turned 30, I decided to fulfill a childhood dream of traveling and living abroad in various countries. My trip took me to Europe, Northern Africa, Middle East, and finally Asia.

It was on this trip that I became interested in spiritual matters and took special interest in Buddhism. I studied for 6 months with various rinpoches in Nepal and read works from different Tibetan, Indian and Chinese masters.

Upon returning to the U.S., I studied acupuncture and Chinese medicine. To me, this was a return to my family roots as my grandmother, aunt and uncle are all in this field. Currently I have a clinical practice in Oakland, CA specializing in pain care and woman's health. (Maria's WoK Experiment entry round)


Born in rural Missouri and weaned on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, I grew up loving science, the outdoors, and Cardinal baseball. College was spent at Yale, where I studied biochemistry, played rugby, and worked in an applied physics lab dedicated to devising nanoscale electronics.

A semester studying marine biology in Australia convinced me that I needed to see the world, and I spent the first two years after graduation teaching math, planting trees, and doing HIV/AIDS education in West Africa with the Peace Corps. I treasured my time there, during which my spiritual senses opened and I began to practice yoga. The couple of years after Peace Corps were spent teaching environmental education in Nicaragua, traveling in Africa and Europe, and doing health economics and outcomes research in Washington, DC.

My path then took me to medical school, where during the first month I took a meditation class and have been sitting ever since. I am currently a 3rd year medical student at Penn interested in how the scientific tradition overlaps with meditation and yoga in their understanding of reality. Of particular interest to me is how this understanding can improve the doctor-patient relationship and aid in the healing of patients. When I am not in the hospital or on the cushion, I can be found tending my garden, cooking a tasty meal, or flying around Philadelphia on my bicycle.


Born in Montreal, Quebec, I studied Psychology (BA) and Neuroscience (MSc) at McGill University. I have always been fascinated with the workings and potential of the human mind. After my formal scientific training failed to answer my deeper questions, I started to explore yoga, holistic medicine and spirituality.

I traveled alone in Asia for one year, exploring tantric yoga, Buddhism and myself. Other travels have led me to Europe, Egypt, Morocco and Peru. I am constantly drawn to mystical places and new culinary and personal experiences.

I am currently teaching Psychology and Humanities at a Liberal Arts College near Montreal. I am inspired daily by the potential and development of my students. My current passions include rockclimbing, interpersonal psychology and ceramics.

Rod Rees

Born a small town midwesterner, I'll soon turn 65. My undergrad degree was from the Design Department at Southern Illinois University (1965). This was a radical program in its day, emphasizing a generalist approach to problem solving. Our star professor was Buckminster Fuller, so you could say that early on I was indoctrinated in the Fulleresque way of looking at the world.

My doctorate was from Brown University in experimental psychology (1970), specializing in learning in non-human primates. My training during those years was hard-core behavioral research, and I got involved in some of the early uses of lab computers in psychology. My minor field was sensation & perception.

My next 20 years were spent in a smallish west coast state university. Within a few years I was teaching courses primarily in sensation/perception/states-of-consciousness, as well as statistics (ANOVA) & research design. My favorite course was the History of Psychology which allowed me to range freely over the story of consciousness. My research interest was the experiential exploration of self-hypnosis, delving into what we called "mutual trance states."

Since retiring in 1990 I've had a low-key lifestyle pursuing a wide variety of interests, including two years in Costa Rica. Living now in southwestern New Mexico, I find my life filled to the brim with the sorry state of affairs in U.S. politics; with hiking; with digital photography; and with yet another attempt to codify my world view in a way that satisfies me.  (Rod's WoK Experiment entry round)

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