By Krystn Ledoux and Gabriela De Golia
Science is Vamsi Koneru’s focus and passion. It brought him to the Copper Beech Institute where he has served on the Board of Directors since 2014.
Vamsi grew up in Falmouth, Massachusetts, a beautiful summertime destination, not known for its diversity. The running joke for him and his relatives is that the arrival of the Koneru family of four quadrupled the Indian population of Cape Cod.
Vamsi grew up in an “Indian household,” marked by a loving focus on the family with emphasis on learning, knowledge, reading, discipline, and hard work.
“My parents modeled and communicated that kindness, focus, and effort would guide a meaningful life,” Vamsi says.
After graduating from Brandeis University and serving in the Peace Corps in Ecuador, Vamsi was uncertain of which direction to pursue: literature or psychology.
“Similar to most things that have worked out well in my life, I listened to my mother’s advice,” he says.
Vamsi accepted a position at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Mass., immortalized in the poems of Sylvia Plath and the movie “Girl, Interrupted.” He fell in love with research and decided to pursue training in clinical psychology.
During the academic, clinical and research work that followed his time at McLean, Vamsi was introduced to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – a type of therapy that incorporates mindfulness as a foundational and core component.
From that moment on, he says, “I kept coming back to mindfulness, trying to understand it.
I knew that there was something there, but I didn’t feel like I fully understood it. I wanted to learn more, to understand the science and practice of mindfulness.”
While reading the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dan Siegel, and Richie Davidson, Vamsi grew increasingly excited about the scientific research showing the many benefits of mindfulness. As his enthusiasm for mindfulness increased, so did his desire to learn from and practice with a local community. While a Google search made him aware of and first brought him to Copper Beech Institute, it was the people and programs that made him stay.
“I first attended Candlelight Meditation,” Vamsi remembers, “and it was beautiful.” On that very special night, Vamsi recalls, “Brandon [Nappi] and Miranda [Chapman] looked at me with such care, making me feel like a dear friend. You truly feel felt with them.”
That night was the beginning of an enduring relationship with Copper Beech Institute, where Vamsi is now on the Board of Directors and chair of the Community Impact and Diversity committee.
Vamsi cherishes the fellowship he has found at Copper Beech, and continues to deepen his practice of mindfulness. He finds such methods illuminating, as they allow him to care for himself and improve his relationships with patients, while engaging effectively with his community.
“I continue to return to the potential of mindfulness to assist individuals to learn to respond instead of react, to increase an individual’s receptivity to change and to deepen compassion.”
Vamsi is one of the many diverse minds at Copper Beech Institute.