I created this virtual place so I could share some of my thoughts on meditation, mental health, living, coping, and spirituality. As a mental health professional, I am daily speaking with people coping with the basic, and not so basic, difficulties of living. Despite my extensive training, my vision evolves as I learn from my clients about what’s needed to create serenity and wellness in their lives. I’m hoping that over the years this site will become a collection of my thinking and training, as well as become a jumping off point for others to access their own serenity and vibrance.
I’ve been asked about the odd title of this site, Fall Into Itself. It’s a play on words. The first meaning is a characteristic of human suffering that I’ve seen in most people over my years of clinical work: people are easily self-obsessed and we can have a lot of difficulty getting out of our own way… we fall into ourselves, bumping against our own limitations and at times struggling with inadvertent self-destructiveness.
The other meaning of falling into itself has a beauty in it. It is one of the essential meditation teachings in the Buddhist tradition called Mahamudra. While one is engaged in meditation there are three points. The first point is “rang-bap” pronounced wrong bop in Tibetan. Rang means “itself,” and bap means “to fall.” The phrase could be translated as “fall into itself.” It is also sometimes translated as “let it drop.” Or one could say “settle into itself” or “settle naturally.” The second point is ma-chö in Tibetan, which means “without artifice” “non performance” “nonfabrication” or “noncontrivance.” The third point is lhö-pa, which means “relaxed” or “loose.” Those are three points for how one should rest the mind for meditation: To fall into itself non-contrived (without artifice), loosely.
I chose “rang bap” (fall into itself… let it drop) for this site as the concept has been one the most profound that I learned from my primary meditation teacher and it can be applied to all areas of life. It’s a good reminder.
Julie Gustafson is a registered marriage and family therapist intern, psychotherapist, sex therapist, meditation instructor and writer. Her research work in sexuality, expressive writing, psychological trauma and health have appeared in psychological journals including Aids & Behavior and Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology. Her passion for mindfulness in psychotherapy arose from her volunteer work at UCLA’s Mindfulness- based Integrative Cognitive Behavior Therapy Research Program. Julie was inspired by the work of Dr. Lobsang Rapgay (a psychologist and Buddhist monk) who incorporated his training in classical mindfulness meditation into the clinical management of pain and depression. Julie is a long time practitioner of meditation and continues her ongoing studies in Buddhist teachings of the mind. She has received teachings from Buddhist Masters: Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Khenpo Sherab Ozer Rinpoche, and Gangteng Tulku Rinpoche.
Julie is deeply interested in how people cope with distress using their own spiritual beliefs, including their use of prayer and meditation. She has traveled to China, Tibet, Nepal, Thailand and Israel; deepening her knowledge of Eastern and Western cultural expressions of spirituality. Though most forms of meditation and contemplative prayer evolved out of religious traditions, Julie is interested in how these self processes are incorporated into secular, modern society and specifically, mental health. Julie has taught non-religious forms of meditation to a variety of lay practitioners including, homeless youth, artists, persons living with chronic illness and mental health professionals.
In addition to her training in meditation, she has worked in the mental health profession for thirteen years and has extensive therapeutic experience with adults, children, couples and families. Julie worked for 3 years providing thousands of hours of Applied Behavioral Analysis and Greenspan Floortime Therapy to children and adolescents with developmental and emotional disorders. She trained other behavioral therapists and provided supportive therapy to parents coping with their children’s illness.
For 5 years, Julie worked on psychological research within the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience. While working in UCLA’s Sexual Health Program and Center for Trauma and Mental Health Disparities, she worked with sexual abuse survivors, trauma survivors living with sexually transmitted disease and other chronic illness. She was extensively trained by Internationally renowned sex therapist, Dr. Gail Wyatt and cultural psychologist, Dr. Dorothy Chin in the areas of sex therapy, childhood and adult sexual and physical abuse, cultural expressions of sexuality, sexually transmitted disease, ethnic diversity in psychological adjustment, addiction risk behavior, and interpersonal violence. Julie trained volunteers and ran psychoeducational-psychotherapy groups at clinics throughout Los Angeles. Julie presented the results of this research to a Congressional panel, and was among a group of consultants asked to advise on a Bill for improving mental health treatment and reducing mental health disparities. Julie continues to advocate for awareness of the public health risks of addiction and for improved mental health care.
For 2 1/2 years, Julie was comprehensively trained in psychodynamic psychotherapy at The Maple Counseling Center (TMCC) in Beverly Hills. At TMCC, she provided individual adult treatment for a wide range of issues. Additionally, she provided training and peer mentoring in assessment and clinical writing to incoming counselors.
Julie received her Bachelor’s degree from University of California at Los Angeles and her Master’s Degree from Pepperdine University. She stays active in learning and up-to-date in her knowledge of evidenced-based psychotherapy, in addition to studying unique non-psychological theories about human experience. She has attended seminars and trainings taught by Drs. Albert Bandura, Kathlyn Hendricks, Otto Kernberg, Marsha Linehan, Thich Nhat Hahn, Judith Orloff, Martin Seligman, Bessel Van der Kolk, David Wallin, Frank Yeomans, among others. Julie is a member of Psi Chi: The International Honor Society in Psychology and The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and The American Academy of Religion.
Registered Marriage & Family Therapist Intern IMF # 63478
Supervised by Sara Kenney LCSW 20060