Dr. Ibsen was born and grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska where her newly married parents had gone to begin a life of adventure. Seeking her own adventures and believing that psychology might offer some answers to the problems of life, she came down to the “lower 48” and did undergraduate work at Western Washington State College in Bellingham, Washington. She was awarded a BS in Psychology in 1969. When she became interested in the biological aspects of psychology she went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Her thesis and dissertation focused on the role of stress on cardiovascular function and she received a Ph. D. in 1975. After moving to Wilmington and teaching for a couple of years at UNC-W, she began a private practice as a clinical psychologist specializing in stress management practices.
After several years, still in search of answers to life’s big questions, she temporarily suspended her private practice to sail around the world in the spirit of Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I have not lived.” With her late husband and life partner, Bill Lowe, she completed a circumnavigation aboard the 37’ cutter, Brigadoon between November 1991 and July 1995.
On board Brigadoon was a small text by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Miracle of Mindfulness which became salt stained and dog eared with each long passage as she studied and returned again and again to the wisdom of the Buddha. Back in the mainstream after the years at sea, she began teaching mindfulness to her patients and studying more about the overlap between Buddha's philosophy and psychology. Coincidentally she also began to practice yoga and discovered, to her surprise, that the core spiritual text of Yoga, the Yoga Sutras, included many principles and practices that were familiar from both contemporary psychology and the teachings of Buddha. She continued to study and eventually began to teach yoga. She developed a mindfulness based yoga class with the support of her Zen inspired Tucson based teacher, Frank Boccio, author of Mindfulness Yoga. With his support and guidance she has been practicing and teaching yoga and meditation in the Wilmington, NC area since 2010.
Catherine has continued her studies and in 2016, she completed a two-year Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation program with Anne Cushman and Jill Satterfield at Spirit Rock. She is credentialed as an RYT 500 by Yoga Alliance. Still curious and wanting to deepen her understanding of the Buddha’s Way, in 2018 she completed the one year Nalanda Program at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. Her two most recent retreat experiences have been concentration retreats with Leigh Brasington. Her current passion is nurturing a local community of serious practitioners in Southeastern North Carolina. The Bhavana Community has evolved to provide infrastructure to bring the teachings of the Buddha to the local community.
Cultivating skills to live intentionally for the benefit of all beings.
We provide programs that encourage the cultivation of mindful awareness through education, meditation and yoga. We support practices from the integrated teachings of Buddha, Yoga, Psychology and the Neurosciences. We embrace diversity among Buddhist traditions and among all spiritual traditions.
The Bhavana Community, Inc. is a Nonprofit corporation exempt under IRS Code Section 501(c)(3).