Amy Wright Glenn ~ (she/her) is the founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death ~ an innovative organization dedicated to the personal and professional growth of those called to hold space for life’s sacred thresholds.
Amy’s work changed my heart, dramatically. It gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my passion and gave me the tools needed to hold space.
~ Nakia Kelly, student doula, Maryland
Amy is kind, humble, and accessible. Her diversified and extensive background in birth, death, religion, and spirituality enhance her innate qualities that make for greatness.
~ Alisha Tamburri, Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula, Hypnotherapist/ Counselor and Doula Mentor
Amy is a very powerful teacher because her teaching comes directly from her heart and from a life that has experienced what she is teaching.
~ Tracy Glaser- Bacon, hospice worker, Ohio
First and foremost, Amy devotes the majority of her time, energy, attention, and heart to nurturing her family. She is the mother of an imaginative, creative, and energetic 11-year-old. Stories of motherhood often appear in her work. For example, in her PhillyVoice article On cultivating patience, Amy describes her love for her son: “In my heart, I dream of you. All the time.”
Amy draws upon the best practices of attachment theory and the work of child psychologist Dr. Laura Markham and was featured in Dr. Markham’s blog post with regard to Courage in the Age of Coronovirus. Dr. Markham writes: “Amy is one of my favorite people and I highly recommend her Circle of Care, which is designed to help participants hold space for ourselves, now, in the age of a global pandemic. Amy is trained as a Chaplain and a Doula, and I would trust her with the hardest of human situations.”
Amy strives to practice positive parenting and supports parents through her writing and research. Amy writes of the importance of facing our shadows, honoring intuition, and working with fears in a loving way. Amy volunteers with her Unitarian Universalist community, Big Brother/Big Sister, and is training to be a foster parent. Most importantly, she loves to join her family in playing, snorkeling, gardening, traveling, exploring, reading, and spontaneous moments of dancing/singing.
At the age of 8, Amy’s beloved Aunt Kris gave her a journal and through the practice of daily writing, even as a young girl ~ a love for the written word was born. Amy developed into an avid journal writer, filling over 50 books with poems, ideas, words, musings, fears, and hopes throughout her teens and into her adult years.
After Taber’s birth, Amy began to publish her work for a broader audience. Amy self-published her first book Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula in March 2013. From 2015 to 2019, she served as an active contributor to PhillyVoice. Amy’s second book Holding Space: On Loving, Dying, and Letting Go was published by Parallax Press in 2017. Today, she nurtures The Institute’s blog inviting quality guest posts by leaders and innovators in the field of conscious birthing, living, and dying. Amy draws upon the wisdom of heart and mind, combining a rigorous commitment to academic excellence with compassionate reflections on the human story.
Amy’s work has appeared in many online publications such as: Holistic Parenting Magazine, Philly.com, Attachment Parenting International, A Network for Grateful Living, Birth Institute, and Kindred Media. Amy has been quoted in a Wall Street Journal article with regard to her reflections on nourishing meditation practices with children.
She supports birthing individuals in knowing and understanding their rights and advocates for mothers and children who choose to practice full term breastfeeding. Amy strives to practice positive parenting and supports parents in putting an end to cycles of physical abuse and/or verbal abuse that can pass on through families. Amy encourages parents to employ best practices to prevent childhood sexual abuse and she encourages parents to honor their intuition in this regard.
Amy encourages parents to bring gratitude and mindfulness together to realize how irreplaceable and precious our days are as parents. Amy also frequently researches and writes about the intersection between innovative classroom and experiential education experiences. All of this to say, Amy loves connecting parenting, education, research, and writing and these interests deeply inform her family and personal life.
Recently, Amy contributed a chapter entitled “Grief Work for Teachers: Three Practices in Holding Space for Sorrow” in the 2023 anthology Reframing Self Care published by the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education (CSEE).
Amy Wright Glenn earned her BA in Religion from Reed College and her MA in Religion and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She taught for eleven years in the Religion and Philosophy Department at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey earning the Dunbar Abston Jr. Chair for Teaching Excellence.
In addition to being the Institute founder/director, Amy serves as co-director of the Middle School and teaches 5/6 ELA and Social STudies at The Odyssey School in Asheville, North Carolina. She loves it!
Institute courses reflect Amy’s interest in the study of life’s sacred thresholds, building the beloved community, and drawing together seekers, healers, and those who are called to serve at life’s threshold points of birth, breath, and death. Teaching at Odyssey reflects Amy’s interest in nurturing the hearts/minds of future leaders and innovators. Amy considers herself a lifelong student of love, life, and wonder. She is drawn to both the academic study of history, literature, comparative religion and philosophy as well as the contemplative practices found in mindfulness-based therapies and open hearted living.
Doula & Hospital Chaplain
Amy is particularly interested in the spiritual and/or religious dimensions of birth and death doula work and the intersections found between her formal training as a birth/death doula and her experiences as a hospital chaplain.
In 2014, Amy presented at the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) annual conference on what it means to be a doula and/or midwife through the life continuum. She spoke to midwives about what birth workers can learn from those who work with the dying. The conversations inspired by that presentation led Amy to create the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death a year later.
Today, The Institute partners with the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA), Doorway into Light, Quality of Life Care, the National Home Funeral Alliance, and the Center for Conscious Living & Dying (CCLD).
The Institute continues to build alliances with organizations that represent best practices with regard to how we hold space for birth, breath, and death.
Amy is a Kripalu Yoga, Birthing Mama® Prenatal Yoga and Wellness, and Mommy and Me Yoga teacher. With over twenty years of experience, Amy combines intuition, skill, knowledge, and love as she leads students through postures and stillness.
Amy presented on “Nurturing The Sacred Time of Pregnancy” at the Kripalu Yoga Teachers Association 2014 annual conference and is involved in ongoing collaboration with Corinne Andrews, the founder of the Birthing Mama® online program. She created and teaches a weekly Yoga for Grief online class ~ open to all ~ through the Institute.
Amy understands that the habits of heart, mind, and soul are transformed for the better through travel and study. One emerges a citizen of the world with an expanded capacity to love and care. She has lived abroad and/or explored India, Colombia, Iran, Turkey, Jerusalem, Egypt, The Dominican Republic, France, Australia, and Germany.
Traveling deeply informs Amy’s reflections on human rights and the ethical imperative to cultivate empathy to safeguard our collective future. Yet, however interesting it is to adventure on this earth, the true adventure awaits within. Amy’s first priority is an inner one.
What does it mean to be human?
What is the “breath inside the breath” to paraphrase the poet Kabir?
What is the significance of birth? Love? Death?
Amy maintains a daily personal practice of seated meditation and asana, the postures associated with yoga practice. While raised in the Latter-Day Saint tradition, today Amy is an active Unitarian Universalist. She served as Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton from 2018-2022. Currently, Amy volunteers as a Religious Education teacher at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, NC.
Upon reflecting on her journey to Unitarian Universalism, Amy writes: “When, at the age of 18 ~ as a freshman at Reed College, I heard poet, author, and UU minister Rev. Marilyn Sewell speak at First Church in Portland I knew I had found a church home. As a young girl, I was perhaps unique in that I would often cry in church. Call me sentimental or overly emotional, it’s just that I found no need to hide my heart. Before questioning the Mormon institution, I simply soaked in the story of a loving Savior who welcomed all into His wounded hands. And there I was again, at 18, stumbling into a place where my newly awakened intellectual, feminist, and progressive mind could simply sink into my heart. Once again I was amazed by the tender power of simple compassion. I realized that I truly missed church. I love the wisdom gained from 80 year olds and the beauty of welcoming new babies into the community.”
Amy offers in-person support to soon-to-be-married couples of all orientations as she holds space for a heartfelt design of vows, ceremony, and spirit. Contact Amy if you are planning on getting married and would like her to work with you as an officiant.
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.