My purpose in establishing this website is to encourage and inspire people living with chronic pain or crushing stress to learn the skills necessary for dealing with these often catastrophic situations. Even if you are taking medication, seeing a physician regularly or already have established a formal meditation practice, I believe it is in your daily life and everyday activities that you will find the antidote to your distress. Therapy and formal meditation may provide relief for a couple hours a week. But when our misery has become so pervasive that it is actually mundane, a condition of our life, then we must explore our hours and days with an eye to their healing and comforting possibilities.
Though I was ordained as a zen priest in 1999, I have always been more interested in what happens when we get up off our meditations pillows and face our everyday work and family situations than in a strictly monastic setting for practice. I spent the vast majority of my zen training -- 30 years -- as a laywoman, working along with my husband to support our family: first as a legal secretary downtown to save money to train at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center; Then after developing the rheumatoid arthritis that also plagued my mother, I became a bodyworker/movement teacher for people with joint restrictions. Finally, longtime experience with clients in unremitting pain and my own physical difficulties rendered me a resource for people in pain.
I quite intentionally emphasize the importance of pleasure and delight in lives made difficult by crushing stress and exhausting pain. I don't mean the pleasure that we strive after and finally gain, but rather the kind of sweet and unexpected delight that suddenly reveals itself under our noses, right in the middle of what we thought was all-consuming misery. For this reason I have developed a number of meditation practices we can do in our every day lives that refine our consciousness and make us more sensitive to happiness wherever it may exist. These forms work very well as adjuncts to our more traditional practices.
I give workshops at meditation centers, seminars at medical facilities, do public speaking at conferences, and counsel private clients on living with "mundane anguish" and how we might make the relationship between suffering and delight more fluid in our own experience.
Recently, as I approach my 6th decade, I have also become interested in the options for spiritual practice available for people in their middle years. Traditionally in other cultures people in middle age, having fulfilled their familial and societal obligations, are free to turn their attention to their own spiritual/creative development. This may mean for us that we can begin a new life: whether of service to others, bringing forth our artistic leanings or starting a new business on our own, it certainly means that we are free to envision the rest of our lives in different terms. I've been exploring these questions with many other people, those who have already established a meditation practice, and those who haven't but are curious because they are interested in living the remainder of their lives very consciously pursuing what couldn't be pursued before. You might relate to my thinking on this topic so far.
So please explore the possibilities presented here as your curiosity guides you. Thank you so much for your interest in my work.