Dr Norma Harris

Norma Harris, MA, PhD, MA
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Who I am

As a chaplain, I provide spiritual counseling to people of all religions, to people who are non-religious, and to those who are atheists. I was raised in a non-religious Jewish household and have been a practicing Buddhist for more than 20 years. I am authorized as a Buddhist chaplain in the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, an outgrowth of the confluence of the Nyingma and Kagyu lineages of Tibet introduced in the west in 1975 by the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

As a Buddhist practitioner, I engage in mindfulness/awareness meditation and other types of contemplative practice on a regular basis. I am a dharma teacher at the Shambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta and serve as Upadhyaya (chaplain) of the center. I officiate at weddings and funerals and provide counseling to members. Weekly, I travel to Jackson, Georgia to convene a meditation group with men on death row and to visit other inmates throughout the prison. I also serve as the Director of Societal Health & Well-being at the Atlanta Shambhala Center and as such sit on the Governing Council of this organization.

My prior background is as a speech-language pathologist working with children and adults, and as a psychotherapist doing play therapy with children. I have an MA in Speech-Language Pathology from George Washington University, an MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy from Naropa University, and a PhD in Human Resource Development from Georgia State University. I have trained in MBSR with John Kabat-Zinn. And I am a three-time cancer survivor.


My work

Helping people to connect with their innate dignity and goodness as human beings and to experience the world as an extension of this goodness.

Basic human qualities possessed by all, such as generosity, mindfulness, kindness, clarity, stability of mind, and more are not spiritual in nature; however, when people find and develop these aspects of their humanness, they often experience interconnectedness and begin to feel a difference in their own being.

Helping people as they work through pain, turmoil, ennui, grief and other difficult experiences from a spiritual perspective.

Spiritual perspective to me does not mean other-worldly, nor does it mean working with someone to fix or even improve themselves. It means helping someone recognize who they are and what their place is in the scheme of things in this life, and to relax into that by identifying what responsibilities to take and what to let be.

Helping people to reorient to and navigate through the shifting territories of old age, sickness, and death by helping them to apply their own spiritual beliefs to the fact of our impermanence.

It can be soothing and inspiring to tell it like it is and to then discover bravery as well as a sense of humor. This, I believe, is what constitutes sanity.

Helping people to have an experiential understanding of what we are.

We are more than our thoughts, conceptions, and emotions. What might that be?
Being a resource for families and professionals whose daily responsibilities are to help those in need.People who help others need to rest their minds. I can help you learn to do that.