ABOUT

Vision

We believe in a more conscious and compassionate humanity. By fostering self-awareness, life skills, mental health and human connection through mindfulness practice, we can relate more peacefully to ourselves, to our fellow humans and to the world we live in. We thus passionately promote sustainable peace education that flourishes from the inside out.

Mission

As an international NGO we seek to establish mindfulness practice as an accessible, practical and effective peace education and peacebuilding strategy. We therefore develop, implement, validate, systematize and disseminate mindfulness-based interventions and training programs for diverse target groups worldwide.

Mindfulness

A mental training and personal development practice that fosters kind and caring self-observation to deepen our presence and awareness. It has a millenary tradition and is solidly based in modern science with more than 700 peer-reviewed papers published annually documenting its diverse applications and benefits.

Our Approach

We seek to be a living example of mindfulness practice by applying its teachings, principles and attitudes in all aspects of our work, both inwards (operational team, national chapters) as well as outwards (beneficiaries, partner organizations). Deep caring for the people of our community is the centerpiece of our approach.

How we work

We provide direct program implementation, build capacity through training, offer technical assistance and cooperate with diverse partner organizations and institutions. We also set up, train and support national chapters who represent and carry out our vision and programs in specific countries.

South-North-South

Born in Colombia as RESPIRA, our programs are currently reaching countries of the Global North, with the wish to spread "back" to the Global South. It is a two-way cooperation and learning process with an inspiring insight: Whoever we are and wherever we live, we are all human with a deep desire for peace and personal wellbeing.

Sustainable peacebuilding from the inside out by promoting:

SELF-AWARENESS

Opening up to new perspectives about who we are

Encouraging consciousness about our own being: about our lives, needs, desires, emotions, behavior, values, visions, habits, strengths and struggles. Becoming aware of how we relate to ourselves through our body and the observation of the mind.

LIFE SKILLS

Strengthening the resources we need to direct our lives

Developing practical life skills such as our intentional presence and focus, emotional awareness, or resilience and self-regulation in the face of difficulties. Using these skills as a driver for conscious decision-making and self-directed personal growth. 

MENTAL HEALTH

Feeling comfortable with ourselves

Strengthening physical and mental wellbeing through healthier stress management, self-care practices and the healing of trauma; fostering a sense of inner calm and harmony; developing greater self-compassion and connection to life; and rediscover joy, purpose and inner freedom.

HUMAN CONNECTION

Feeling at home in our shared humanity

Nurturing empathy, compassion and care for ourselves and others, developing active listening skills to connect more deeply as well as building and maintaining healthy human relationships in all domains of our lives. Learning to see our commonalities before our differences. 

TEAM OF DIRECTORS

Matthias Rüst

Matthias Rüst Portrait

Matthias is passionate about visioning and creating trainings and programs. Connecting his peace education background with his personal meditation practice he founded BREATHE in Education together with Paula in 2013, which kicked off the continuously growing RESPIRA movement. After eight years in Colombia, Matthias is returning to Switzerland where he also directs our local partner organization. He is certified MBSR Teacher with the UCSD Center for Mindfulness and Positive Discipline Classroom and Parent Educator (PDA). He is married and proud father of two small boys.

Paula Ramírez

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Paula believes in the importance of promoting self-care for humanitarian actors. Studying anthropology and experiencing an auto-immune illness, she started to be curious about ways in which human beings can build peace from within, and how resilience and healing could be inspired and guided through the body. Paula has been co-directing RESPIRA since 2013, working closely with teachers and survivors of torture, GBV and landmines in Colombia and South Sudan. She is an MBSR-Teacher from the UCSD Center for Mindfulness and TCTSY-Facilitator from the Trauma Center.

Sofyen Khalfaoui

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Through his personal and professional path, Sofyen has always been committed to programs dedicated to human being’s protection and wellbeing. His humanitarian engagement first took him to work with NGOs and the UN in Africa and the Middle East, managing Education in Emergencies and Child Protection projects. After several years of field-based experience, he returned to Switzerland to lead the Protection program of Save the Children Switzerland. Sofyen is practicing Vipassana meditation and develops theatre projects addressing questions of trauma and resilience.

National Leaders

Cristina Arrieta (Colombia)

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Cristina is passionate about life. She considers the creation of opportunities and capacity building in young people as part of her mission so that they can realize the life they dream of. Cristina has more than 10 years of experience coordinating social programs focused on the development of life skills and the construction of life projects with adolescents and young people. She currently leads RESPIRA en Colombia together with Paula, designing new mindfulness-based projects for peacebuilding. Her main role is obtaining the required resources as well as the coordination of the projects.

Constanze Lullies (Switzerland)

Constanze Lullies

Constanze believes that one of the most important things we can give our children is the trust in their own goodness, compassion for others and open mindedness for the world around them. After 12 years as program manager at the Jacobs Foundation, active in child & youth development, Constanze now dedicates her time fully to teaching yoga and bringing mindfulness to schools. She is co-founder and president of the Swiss Chapter “Achtsame Schulen Schweiz“ and currently takes the 2-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Training with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.

Anna Baumann (Switzerland)

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Anna has been teaching kids for over 10 years. She felt that to stay healthy in her job she needed to take care of herself. Since then yoga, mindfulness and meditation have been guiding her on her way. She soon realized that these techniques weren’t just good for herself, but also for the children she worked with. She spent some years trying out different exercises in the classroom before starting the Mindful Teacher Programm and Year-Long Certification with Mindful Schools. She co-founded the Swiss Chapter “Achtsame Schulen Schweiz“ with Constanze and Matthias.

Pilar Lindo (Spain)

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Pilar started her personal journey through dance and yoga. She later discovered the best way for her to connect to people and learn about herself was through education, and thus has been an educator for 20 years with the deep purpose of helping people find their true self and improve the world they live in. Several years of Vipassana practice, life in the countryside, and her husband and two children as her wisest teachers, have supported her growth. Apart from her degree in Education, she has a specialization in Mindfulness and a Master in Neuropsychology and Education.

Romeral Ortiz (Spain)

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Romeral is a committed peacebuilding practitioner who is truly inspired by the role that youth plays in violence prevention, conflict transformation and social inclusion. Since 2009 she has been involved with youth led organizations and international institutions in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North Africa and Asia. While working in this field, she strongly felt the need to reconnect with our own inner peace, and the practice of mindfulness has been an incredible gift to explore with youth the power of empathy, nonviolent communication and emotional wellbeing.

Camila Diaz (United States)

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Camila is committed to creating and holding spaces for people to discover their inner resources, build resilience and heal. In her work, she is passionate about connecting self-care practices, peace education and social justice. For more than ten years she worked with at high-risk communities in Colombia and coordinated RESPIRA’s program in the country for three years. She moved to New York City in 2018 where she is working with youth involved in the criminal justice system. She is a certified mindfulness and yoga teacher with a specialization in trauma-informed practices.

ADVISORY BOARD

Allan Goldstein

Allan Goldstein

Senior Advisor on the Leadership Team & Former Managing Director of the University of California San Diego Center for Mindfulness, Co-Founder and Faculty of their Mindfulness-Based Professional Training Institute (UCSD-MBPTI), MBSR Mentorship and Teacher Trainer.

Patricia Jennings, PhD

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 Internationally recognized leader in the fields of social and emotional learning and mindfulness in education, professor at the Curry School of Education at University of Virginia, and author of “Mindfulness for Teachers” and “The Trauma-Sensitive Classroom”.

Bob Stahl, PhD

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Senior MBSR Teacher & Teacher Trainer at University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness and Brown University's Mindfulness Center, guiding teacher at Insight Santa Cruz and visiting teacher at Spirit Rock, founder of eight MBSR programs in medical centers in Northern California.

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

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Professor and Research Chair for Historical Trauma & Transformation at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s after the end of Apartheid, author of the award-winning book “A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness”.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD

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 Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Professor of Medicine emeritus, and a leading figure in the mainstreaming of mindfulness practices and principles since 1979. 

Shauna Shapiro, PhD

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 Internationally recognized expert in mindfulness and compassion, professor of Psychology at Santa Clara University, Contemplative Practice Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute co-founded by the Dalai Lama, co-author of “The Art and Science of Mindfulness” and “Mindful Discipline”.

David Treleaven, PhD

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Author of the book "Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing", trainer at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Omega Institute, UCLA, UCSD and a visiting scholar at Brown University.