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Instructor Profiles

Lisa Kaufmann, MD, Program Founder/Director

Lisa Kaufmann, MD

Looking back at her undergraduate years at Duke University, Lisa Kaufmann, MD, compares herself to Woody Allen. "We were both totally stressed out and anxious," she remembers, But during her medical residency—when her stress level should have been sky-high—colleagues labeled Kaufmann the calmest resident they'd ever seen. What caused the change? Meditation.

For over 30 years, Kaufmann has continued to practice various forms of meditation and yoga. The improvement in her ability to cope and concentrate inspired her to design a stress-reduction program based on these practices.

"As an internist, I realized my patients could benefit from these skills," Kaufmann says. "But patients often don't like to go outside the medical system for help."

Many people learn meditation because they suffer from chronic pain, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, headaches, anxiety and other disorders. But many begin because their lives seem to be spinning out of control. "No matter what your condition, this can help you cope better," Kaufmann says. "You become more reality-based. Instead of fearing the future or fretting over the past, you learn to act in the present."

"It takes a certain discipline to do this," she says. "But to benefit from any of our programs, you must commit to the exercises. It's like learning to play the piano. You can't just read about it. You have to play it."

Years after participating in one of comprehensive programs, participant satisfaction remains high, according to Kaufmann. "Most people are using at least one of the techniques four years later. Some people experience dramatic improvements in their health, but whether or not their health improves, the ability to cope with life improves."

Dr. Kaufmann uses mindfulness in every part of her life. She is a Professor of Medicine, teaches medical students and residents, is the medical director of a large medical practice, sees patients of her own, and directs the Upstate Center for Health and Meditation. "Mindfulness and meditation allow me to focus and prioritize to enjoy every part of my life."

"I noticed years ago that very few long term meditators are overweight. Participants in our Stress Reduction Program who had previously had problems with food often commented that mindfulness made healthy eating much easier. Since obesity and its complications are the number one health problem in the United States, I really wanted to offer a formal program using mindfulness meditation techniques, especially mindful eating, to help people manage weight problems. In collaboration with Terry Podolak, RD, we launched the Mindful Eating Program in the fall of 2000." For more information about the Mindful Eating, please call 315 464-4992.

Meditation goes beyond helping people cope with stress or weight problems. Says Kaufmann, "Eventually it makes you aware of how you help create your own stress and helps you change those behaviors." For more information about Stress Reduction offerings, please call 315 464-3066.

Terry Podolak, RD

Terry Podolak, RD

Terry Podolak, RD, is a registered dietitian at University Hospital. Since 2000, Ms. Podolak has taught the Mindful Eating Program. Her experience includes the treatment of obesity and its complications. Ms. Podolak is respected by her colleagues and her clients not only as a knowledgeable clinician, but also as a caring, supportive and empathetic counselor.

Jessica Charbonneau, LCSW

Jessica Charbonneau, LCSW

Jessica Charbonneau is a licensed clinical social worker. She graduated from Syracuse University in 2000 with a master's degree in social work. For the past 10 years she has worked in a variety of capacities as a member of University Hospital's social work department. Jessica has provided crisis counseling in the emergency department, assisted individuals and families on the adult inpatient psychiatric unit and taught stress management and self-care techniques to new hospital employees. Jessica has a private practice located in Skaneateles , NY where she combines cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness training in order to assist both children and adults with various stressors that arise in their lives. Jessica is presently working contractually with the Fingerlakes Weight Loss Program at Auburn Memorial Hospital, specifically assisting individuals to identify mindful eating solutions to their struggles with weight loss. She facilitates a support group for the weight loss clinic that emphasizes mindfulness techniques as a way to minimize emotional eating. Jessica has taught mindful eating for more then two years.

Pauline Cecere, CSW

Pauline Cecere, CSW

Pauline Cecere, LCSW is a psychotherapist in private practice in Cazenovia, an artist and former yoga instructor. She is on the clinical faculty of the Department of Medicine at SUNY Medical University. Ms. Cecere has practiced meditation for several years and has taught Mindful Living and Stress reduction for over a decade. She continues to be both grateful for, and amazed at the tremendous rewards of mindfulness in daily life.