Marilyn Howell was trained as a biologist at the University of California, Davis, and at Tufts University, where she was a doctoral student and National Institutes of Health fellow.
Two years into her doctoral research, a viral disease tragically destroyed her animal subjects. Deeply distraught, she withdrew from graduate school and began teaching high school biology. At the same time, she began to study and practice yoga, meditation, and a variety of mind/body disciplines that helped her manage her anxiety.
As a biology teacher at Brookline High School, Marilyn began to integrate mind/body lessons into her classes. Enthusiastic feedback from students encouraged her to introduce and develop a new course devoted to mind/body learning. In 1979, “Body/Mind” became the first psychophysical curriculum in public education. The course was highly successful. Students reported positive changes in their lives such as greater confidence, heightened self-awareness, and increased openness to new ideas. The course soon expanded from one class to four, and there was always a long waiting list of students hoping to enroll.
In order to document these encouraging outcomes, Marilyn decided to go to back to school—this time at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her 1988 doctoral dissertation, “A Psychophysical Curriculum in Public School,” serves as a guidepost for educators seeking to incorporate mind/body learning into their schools. Marilyn continued to teach and develop “Body/Mind” for three decades. The course continues to this day, taught by a colleague she mentored.
Marilyn’s leadership includes educating a broad community of teachers and learners. She has taught mind/body approaches in a variety of settings, including a national training for teachers at Commonweal in Bolinas, California; seminars for Teachers as Scholars, a professional development program in Newton, Massachusetts; and Bent on Learning, an organization that brings yoga and meditation teachers into the New York City public schools. She has also been a consultant for various special projects such as developing educational materials to accompany the PBS documentary Healing and the Mind with Bill Moyers.
In 2006, the year following the death of her daughter Mara, her focus shifted to writing. She was inspired by the gratitude she felt for Mara’s end-of-life psychedelic therapy. Honor Thy Daughter was written with the hope that Mara’s story would open eyes to the healing potential of psychedelic therapy and extend the meaning and purpose of her daughter’s life.