SHANTI - Sciences, Humanities, and Arts Network of Technological Initiatives

Rachel Mann / Profile

Adjunct Faculty Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies | Faculty , Faculty, Technologist, Independent Scholar

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In 2007, I left my full-time position as Director of the Arts & Sciences Center for Instructional Technologies (ASCIT) and instructor in the Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures to start my own consulitng business called MettaKnowledge for Peace, LLCMettaKnowledge supports individuals, organizations, and animals working on the front lines of human suffering to end violence and promote peace.  I work to find ways to bring the spiritual perspectives, contemplative and healing practices of indigenous peoples into mainstream settings in service of greater awareness, resilience and hope in the face of the major challenges in our world today.  I am an adjunct faculty member in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies program in UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.  I teach two courses: “Shamanism in a New Age” and “Gandhi and the Native American Peacekeepers.”  I am co-project director with the Virginia Domestic and Sexual Violence Action Alliance of The Art of Surviving, a traveling and digital exhibit of poetry, art and perosnal narratives of survivors of sexual violence.   My consulting clients have included the Garrison Institute in upstate New York, whose mission is to explore “the intersection of contemplation and engaged action in the world” in the areas of today’s most pressing social and environmental concerns.  I also undertook a research project for internationally renowned Buddhist meditation teaching, Sharon Salzberg to compile and summarize the past decade’s scientific research on the psychological and physiological effects of meditation for her forthcoming book, Why Meditate?  This jumpstarted a project to create a digital map of research since the 1930s on meditation and healing states.  I have two book projects in the works:  Sitting on the Cushion of Mother Earth: Adapting Native American Contemplative Practices into Contemporary Settings (forthcoming LAP Publishers) and Peace is Being Human: How Native American Spirituality Can Help Us End Violence.


For almost two decades, my areas of research and teaching have been in the impact of violence on societies, cultures, and people.  While teaching and working full-time at UVA as director of a teaching and technology center, I continued to pursue my passion to understand how we can heal as a society and as individuals from trauma.  Due to my own history of growing up with a mother who was mentally ill, I began to understand how serious and real multigenerational legacies of trauma can be.  My study of the former Soviet Union from college through my PhD also looked at the painful legacy of institutionalized oppression on a people. Eventually, I had the opportunity to develop my own undergraduate course on this topic and teamed up with John Alexander to teach “Story and Healing”-a course looking at patterns of interracial violence and conflict through the lens of trauma, narrative, and transformation.  Because of my long years’ of being a practitioner of Vipassana meditation from Buddhism and studying with a Cherokee teacher in the mid-90s along with John’s mutual interests in these emerging spiritual movements in the West, we brought these contemplative practices and perspectives on healing into the classroom setting.  This led to a passion to work to dismantle a legacy of racism and prejudice towards indigenous peoples and their spiritual wisdom traditions in the world.  It also led me to enter more fully into studying what is sometimes called shamanism-the practice of healing and ritual of indigenous peoples.  When I left ASCIT in 2007, I enrolled in the Four Winds Healing the Light Body School founded by academic psychologist and shaman, Alberto Villoldo to disseminate the healing practices of the Q’ero people of the Andes in the West.  It is not easy to be an academic who is also a shaman/healer given the skepticism and downright derision in which many Academics hold anything that is perjoratively lumped under the “New Age”.  But I continued to be convinced that the Q’ero, Cherokee, Hopi, Maya, and other indigenous people who are offering their ancient wisdom and their alarming warnings about the state of the world have something to offer all of us.  To that end, my current research is on the phenomenon of the new shamanism in the West with a view to articulating how they can be applied in dynamic, transformative and productive ways to the entrenched violence in the world.  For an article in the magazine, Spirituality & Health explaning my entry into this strange world of shamanism and the controversies surrounding it, click here

Scholarly Disciplines
peace and violence studies (1)
General Interests
PTSD (1), Secondary Traumatic Stress (1), Vicarious Trauma (1), applications of Buddhism and indigenous spirituality in mainstream settings (1), contemplative practices (1), peace and violence studies (1)
Technologies of Interest
Collaboration technologies (3), on-line teaching (2)


Not a member of any organizations.



  • Adjunct Faculty, Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program, UVA, January 2009-present
  • Founder and Owner, MettaKnowledge for Peace, LLC, May, 2007-present
  • Director, Arts & Sciences Center for Instructional Technologies, UVA, 1996-2007
  • Instructor, Department of Slavic Langs. & Lits., UVA, 1996-2007
  • Director, Language Learning Center, James Madison University, 1992-2006


  • Ph.D., Slavic Languages and Literatures, UVA
  • M.A., Soviet Studies, UVA
  • B.A., Russian Studies, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

Mailing Address

1354 Gristmill Drive







Direct Contact

Office Phone: 434-227-0538
Home Phone: same
Cell Phone: same

Contact Notes

I prefer to be contacted by email, but phone is fine, too.

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