About Dr. Michael Mayer

Dr Michael Mayer:

Michael Mayer, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, and Qigong/Tai Chi teacher who specializes in giving his patients self-healing methods for health problems. Dr. Mayer presents his approach to bodymind healing at professional conferences, national/international workshops, universities, and hospitals; and he is a keynote speaker. He was a co-founding faculty member of the Transpersonal Psychology Program at John F. Kennedy University and taught there for twelve years; and he co-founded, and was for ten years a practitioner at, The Health Medicine Center, a multi-disciplinary medical clinic practicing integrative health-care. Dr. Mayer pioneered the integration of Qigong and psychotherapy, and was the first person in the United States to train doctoral psychology students in these methods. The World Institute for Self-Healing gave him an award for outstanding research and contribution to the advancement of mind-body medicine. He is the author of twenty publications on bodymind healing including six books, and various articles. His peer reviewed article on Qigong and hypertension appeared in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, and is updated in the book Healing, Intention and Energy Medicine, by Dr Wayne Jonas, past director of the National Institute of Health, Office of Alternative Medicine. Dr. Mayer has served as a peer reviewer for The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, and Annals of Internal Medicine. His Bodymind Healing Qigong DVD is being used in training of trauma therapists by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Medical Director, The Trauma Center, Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Mayer has certification programs which include  Bodymind Healing Qigong for Qigong practitioners/teachers, and a Bodymind Health Practitioner’s Certification Program for health professionals.  His  book, Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy, received endorsements from top leaders in mind-body medicine, and from the journal PsycCritiques. It has been released as a trade paperback called Energy Psychology  (North Atlantic/Random House, 2009). His most recent Ben Franklin award winning book is, The Path of a Reluctant Metaphysician: Stories and Practices for Troubled Times. Michael’s guiding image of “two streams becoming one” guides him as he joins East/West, mind/body and ancient/modern in his work.

Contributions* of Bodymind Healing Psychotherapy to various Fields: 

* I must say that it is uncomfortable for me to list my contributions, since I wouldn’t want the emphasis to be on “my” contributions, but rather on how “the” contributions can help further the healing traditions of our world. What anyone contributes to life stems from the wider whole of which we are a part. They are rooted in the teachings which I have been grateful to receive from many people and sources (listed in my Reluctant Metaphysician...book). It’s not so important, and we don”t know, who first invented steel. We know that it is created from combining many elements that come from life itself— iron, carbon, manganese, other minerals, etc. Likewise, bodymind healing psychotherapy and bodymind healing tai chi/qigong contain an integration of the elements of many ancient and modern bodymind healing traditions. What is important is how the amalgam is used…

More about Dr Michael’s Journey

This excerpted article originally appeared in Orinda Living Magazine, 2020

During the years of “the consciousness revolution,” in the 1970s when Baba Ram Dass, Alan Watts, and Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey were household words, Michael Mayer decided to change his career direction from going to law school (as his father wanted) to being a psychologist. His father, a prominent New Jersey attorney was disappointed, but Michael told him, “Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll still be a lawyer, but I’ll be a lawyer for the bodymind, and spirit.”

Michael didn’t win that case with his father. However, his life’s work has been making that case ever since. Nowadays, Michael’s guiding image of “two streams becoming one”— derived from the place in the woods in his childhood where he sat for many hours— guides him as he joins the East/West, mind/body, and ancient/modern in his work.

Schooling and Influences

When living on the East Coast and getting his Master’s degree in psychology at the New School for Social Research, he experienced the power of Qigong breathing to heal his own and others’ anxiety, and he wanted to learn more about Eastern methods of healing. After a big dream of the sun rising in the West, Michael left his life of suburban comfort to go on “the Quest to the West” to actualize his destiny. So, he moved to the West Coast where many more opportunities existed for learning about alternative healing methods and teaching mind-body healthcare. 

He got to study with and be influenced by many leaders in the field of psychology and spiritual traditions including Dr. Eugene Gendlin, developer of the “Focusing” technique  (and for whom Michael became a Focusing training coordinator); Manly Hall, who wrote, “The secret Teachings of all Ages;” and Joseph Campbell, author of “the Hero’s Journey.” During his doctoral training years, he spent 40 nights in the woods alone on a Vision Quest, where he had a shamanic vision of his life’s purpose (as described in his Reluctant Metaphysician book). After getting a Ph.D. in Psychology at Saybrook University in San Francisco, and getting a certificate in Chinese Health Practices at the Acupressure Institute of Berkeley, he has carried on with his mission of being an advocate for the integration of ancient wisdom traditions and modern mind/body healing methods.

Moving to Orinda to Teach

Michael moved to Orinda thirty years ago to be a co-founding graduate faculty member of the Transpersonal Psychology Program at John F. Kennedy University. For 12 years, he trained many of their therapists at JFK in the integration of Eastern and Western forms of mind/body healing. One of his favorite courses that he taught therapists was called “Symbolic Processes in Psychotherapy,” which was about the power of inner symbols to transform life issues and life paths.

Michael has presented his mind/body healing workshops at various leading-edge venues, such as Esalen Institute in Big Sur. He has led groups to the ancient sites of Greece where he lectured on Greek mythology and Greek healing traditions. While teaching in Greece at the temple of Aesclepius (one of the first holistic healing temples of the Western world), he had a vision of contributing to integrative medicine approaches in the modern United States. After returning from Greece, Dr. Mayer co-founded an integrative medical clinic with Dr. Len Saputo (The Health Medicine Center in Lafayette/Walnut Creek) where he integrated Western and Eastern methods of healing to help treat people with anxiety chronic pain, somatic disorders, and trauma.

Integrating East and West Healing Approaches

Following his path of being “a lawyer” for the body, mind and spirit, much of Michael’s career has involved making an argument for treating various psychological and physical issues by using Western psychological and Eastern/indigenous healing traditions as a first step choice before Western pharmaceuticals. “A smile comes to my face when one of my patients heals one of their issues without the need for medication.” 

Michael wrote three peer reviewed articles on Qigong and hypertension, and he has lectured on integrative approaches to healthcare at such places as the Commonwealth Club of SF and John Muir Hospital.

Click here to see the original featured article from the Orinda Living Magazine, 2020 by Nicole Radlow.

Michael Mayer, Ph.D. is the Director of the Bodymind Healing Center. His background in healing includes over 40 years of training, teaching, and practice in ancient sacred wisdom traditions and modern psychological transformative methods.

Dr. Mayer is a licensed psychologist, practicing in the San Francisco Bay area. He was a S.F Bay Area training coordinator for Dr. Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing Method for 10 years, and he co-founded and was a Psychologist for The Health Medicine Institute, a multidisciplinary team of Western doctors and complimentary health practitioners. He has 20 publications on psychotherapy and mind-body approaches to healing.

Over the past 40 years he has practiced and taught various oriental healing arts including: Tai Chi Chuan, medical Qigong, standing and walking meditation, and acupressure. Dr Mayer pioneered the integration of Qigong and psychotherapy, and was the first person to teach doctoral psychology students how to use these methods in an accredited university. Though Dr Mayer uses medical Qigong methods with his patients to help heal hypertension, anxiety, chronic pain, trauma, etc, his integral approach most often does not use Qigong movements or even mention Qigong. This is done by using Qigong breathing methods to enhance relaxation, teaching acu-point self touch to patients, using energizing story telling methods (such as his Mythic Journey process), and helping patients to anchor the naturally arising body movements that occur at a moment of felt shift in therapy to create a new life stance.

Dr. Mayer has presented his integrative approach to body/mind healing to professionals at some of the following locations:

• Many hospitals including: UC Medical Center, UC Davis, Mt. Diablo Hospital, John Muir Hospital , Alta Bates Hospital

• The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco

• Esalen Institute

• Many National Qigong Association Conferences,
including a keynote presentation.

• Doctoral Psychology Program at The California Institute of Integral Studies, and other universities including San Francisco State University, Bryn Mawr College, John F. Kennedy University.

• Energy Psychology Conferences: Phoenix, Arizona; Santa Clara, California; Chantilly, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; Orlando, Florida; and Reston, Virginia

• Many World Qigong Congresses

• Conference Sponsored by The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine

* To see a more complete list of Dr. Mayer’s past Workshops and Presentations please click here.