Embodiment with Dr. Tawni Tidwell & Dara Bramson

"The cultivation of compassion makes a better diagnostician as well as therapeutic practitioner, attuned to the needs of a patient.” —Dr. Tawni Tidwell

Guest Bios

Tawni Tidwell, PhD, is a biocultural anthropologist and Tibetan medical doctor. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Center for Healthy Minds of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Tidwell’s research facilitates bridges across the Western scientific tradition and Tibetan medical tradition along with their attendant epistemologies and ontologies. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna, where her work focused on pharmacological innovations in Tibetan medicine and training practices for medicine compounding. Her doctoral work detailed the entrainment process for learning Tibetan medical diagnostics of Tibetan medical conceptions of cancer and related metabolic disorders. She is currently the Principal Investigator of North American COVID-19 Tibetan Medical Observational Study (NACTMOS) and Examining Individual Differences in Contemplative Practice Response and a Project Manager for Field Study of the Physiology of Meditation Practitioners and the Tukdam Meditative State (FMed). Her published works focus on diagnostic/treatment paradigms, pharmacological synergies, and modes of embodiment.  

Dara Bramson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology and Mellon Graduate Fellow in Community-Engaged Scholarship at Tulane University. She earned a Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship to conduct fieldwork in India on Tibetan medicine in exile. Her current research builds upon a decade immersed in post-conflict healing initiatives, during which she conducted fieldwork as a Fulbright Scholar and facilitated academic programs in Poland, studied Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution in Thailand as a Rotary Peace Fellow, and contributed to regional creative projects. Dara's interdisciplinary ethnographic approach draws upon training in the arts, biomedical coursework, museum anthropology (MA, Columbia University), communication (BS, Florida International University), and contemplative practices.

Episode Pearls

There are different approaches to understanding the body

Sensory training as a core aspect of medical training

The healing power of compassion


Further Reading

Reflection Questions

GOAL: Considering embodiment as a wellness practice linking the mind and body, choose a practice (i.e. yoga, meditation, breathwork, qi gong, stretching) and commit to it for one week, if not longer. Keep a journal documenting changes you notice as a result.


Host: Dr. Rebekah Byrne, MD

Guest: Dr. Tawni Tidwell

Student Interviewer: Dara Bramson

Producer: Erika Bennett, Lota Ofodile, Alexander Blum

Sound Design: Timothy Knowlton

Original Music (Composed & Performed): Timothy Knowlton