If you are considering asking me to serve as a spiritual catalyst, I’d like you to know where I’m coming from on my spiritual and religious journey. Although we may not have had the same spiritual experiences, we need to be in harmony with each other in learning and growing.
I’ve always been attuned to ‘the spiritual’ – the dimension where we are part of something larger than our individual selves. As a child, I had luminous experiences in ordinary settings:
As a teen-ager and young adult I struggled with Bulimia.
I left my childhood (American Baptist) church and disavowed the belief that there is only one way to God/Truth.
As a young adult I was drawn to altered states of consciousness. I studied yoga and eastern mysticism and meditation.
Embracing democracy as a form of spiritual practice, I threw myself into anti-war work, believing that ordinary people – teachers and trade unionists – could stop the war if we knew what was happening and were organized. I taught classes about the origins of the war; I wrote articles; I went door to door.
In a dark night of the soul at the age of 28, I had a near-death experience, bringing me back to my life’s purpose of healing and spiritual exploration in community, allowing me to start again.
I deepened my yoga and meditation practice and started teaching.
In my early 30s, I wrestled with anxiety attacks and learned to dispel them through chanting and movement, giving voice to the soul’s yearning for the divine.
At 40 I answered the call to ministry as a Unitarian Universalist (UU) and went to seminary (Starr King School, part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA). I was ordained a UU minister in 1992.
I started sharing the chants and songs from my spiritual practice. My music ministry grew beyond my congregation through workshops, retreats, recordings and publishing.
I’ve loved and cared for six congregations, growing with them in their ministry to one another and the communities they served.
I embraced the study of integral philosophy, exploring how consciousness evolves in individuals, institutions and cultures. I teach integral studies, using it with congregations, in spiritual direction and pastoral counseling.
Leaving my last fulltime parish position, I lost myself in another dark night of the soul. And opened to wider peace, joy and compassion.
I deepened my practice as a spiritual director, pursuing certification through the interfaith, Jung-centered Haden Institute.
It is a privilege and pleasure to explore the journey together.
As a young adult, I was energized by folk music and the peace movement.
In my twenties I was shaped by yoga, especially the discipline of B.K.S. Iyengar.
In my thirties, I was drawn to the work of hospice, the teachings of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and Stephen Levine. I opened to the teachings of the Buddha. I found feminist spirituality and hundreds of women hearing ourselves into speech.
In my forties, in seminary, I reintegrated a Christian foundation with a mystical bent, grateful for the teachings of Matthew Fox, Rebecca Parker, Joanna Macy.
I found a mirror in Rabindranath Tagore and Jalal aldin Rumi.
I am drawn to teachings of Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat Zinn, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein.
I wept reading Carl Jung’s autobiography. I am drawn to the writings on the dark night of the soul: Gerald May, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Jim Marion, Thomas Moore.
I’m heartened in the poetry of Denise Levertov, Adrienne Rich, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Billy Collins.
I find a philosophical tribe in the Integral Institute, Ken Wilber and Don Beck.
Yes. It changes over time. Everyone’s practice is different. What matters is that your practice support you in being fully present in life, supporting you in living from what I call your Deepest, Wisest Self. My practice has shaped my life.
For years, my spiritual practice was being outside, responding to the beauty of nature, the insistent presence of our interconnected nature.
As a teen I started journaling. Writing songs and poetry. Writing continues to be a form of self-confession, prayer or conversation with the Deep Self.
As I got older, in my twenties, with more and more energy in mental pursuits, yoga was my practice. Bringing me back here and now, into this body, present to emerging awareness, in this world. My yoga practice was strong throughout my thirties. Was minimal for twenty years. And has come back in my sixties.
I dappled with other body-based practices: Aikido, tai chi, chi kung – I’m a klutz. I enjoyed learning their systems and philosophy, but kept returning to yoga.
I studied intuition and psychic reading; immersed myself in the archetypes of astrology. I was drawn to the study of consciousness, hypnosis, holistic healing. I learned Reiki and am currently studying Jin Shin Jyutsu.
In my late twenties and thirties, raising my children was a spiritual practice, bringing me into the present, calling forth all my skills, exposing my neuroses and delusions.
In my thirties and forties, my love for music, singing, and songwriting became my primary spiritual practice.
In my forties and fifties, explorations of the mind became a spiritual path, with the syncretistic work of integral studies.
The details of ministry crowded out music. My practice shifted into silence and back to Buddhism. Always with a pull toward the body – in InterPlay or yoga.
Today my practice is eclectic. I am happiest and healthiest when I meditate forty minutes a day, read, journal, walk and sing. I come and go with a weekly yoga class and practice at home. When I care for my practice, I notice a shift in my reactivity: I’m a calmer, happier, more resilient, kinder person. My deepest practice is off the cushion, in the unstructured moments. Meeting life with awareness, curiosity, creativity: Awareness meeting its emerging Self. Creating the unknown.