Espen did his first Darkness Retreat in 2008, on his own. From 2005 to 2018 he was part of a group in The Diamond Approach (DA) led by Sandra Maitri. He was also part of the teacher training in DA for a couple of years, and has been interested in the psychological tools provided by Buddhism (Mahamudra), Sufism, and other wisdom traditions for a couple of decades.
Espen's passion is to be a change agent for organizations and individuals in terms of being a coach, researcher, and psychotherapist. His interests span from psychology to economics, and from blockchain technology to climate change.
He is educated coach from INSEAD (Executive Master in Change & INSEAD Coaching Certificate), psychologist from The University of Oslo, and journalist from The Oslo Metropolitan University. He holds the MIT Sloan Executive Certificate in Management and Leadership, focused on Blockchain Technology, AI, and Internet of Things. He has has learned algoritmic trading at Oxford. His path of education also contains music, medicine, and economics.
Espen's PhD aimed to bridge the current gap between the so-called specific and general factors in psychotherapy. From 2014 to 2021 he was "Head of Quality Lab for Psychotherapy" at The Norwegian National Advisory Unit. This lab primarily measured adherence and quality of Mentalization-based treatment (MBT), an evidence-based treatment for borderline personality disorder. In 2020 he co-authored a book on MBT at Gyldendal with Professor Sigmund Karterud and Mickey Kongerslev. He worked as a clinical psychologist (both group and individual therapy) at Oslo University Hospital from 2013 to 2021.
As a guitarist, Espen was a soloist in Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” aged 21, and has studied music (classical guitar) at the Norwegian Academy of Music.
Gunnar’s passion is bridge-building from the insights and practices of ancient wisdom traditions, both East and West, to the concerns and needs of human beings in contemporary society.
Educated as a psychologist at the University of Oslo, he found he needed to supplement his clinical and empirical training with a 3,5 year’s (1000-hour) comprehensive yoga teacher training at the Norwegian Yoga Teacher Academy, working in-depth with systems of tantric meditation, the yoga of Patanjali as well as Hatha yoga, in the Satyananda lineage.
These years put him on a trajectory of inner exploration through the Diamond Approach path as well as various systems of Tibetan Buddhist meditation under the guidance of Dr. Daniel P. Brown and Dr. Alan Wallace.
Gunnar has a long-standing interest in the Western philosophical tradition through BA studies in philosophy at the University of Oslo and the University of Toronto, and he is currently undertaking his MA studies in philosophy at UiO, focused on late antique Greek patristic thought.
Over the last four years he has been training as a group analyst at the Institute of Group Analysis, Norway.
Gunnar is currently working in private practice as a therapist in Oslo with individuals and groups, in addition to teaching yoga and meditation classes, as well as workshops in bioenergetics and breathwork. He regularly teaches week-long yoga retreats in a beautifully restored Benedictine monastery in Umbria, Italy.