When I was twenty-five, I began to practice hatha yoga and found out very quickly that my favorite part of the class was lying in shavasana at the end of class and feeling the bliss of a quiet mind. A couple of years later I read Be Here Now by Ram Dass and had my first real awakening. In reading about Ram Dass’ experiences with Neem Karoli Baba, I felt a deep longing for two things: a direct experience of God and a guru who could give me that experience. A friend told me, “When the disciple has the longing, the guru will come.” In 1975, on my thirtieth birthday, I received shaktipat initiation from Baba Muktananda and my life has never been the same. For seven years until his death, I followed Baba from place to place and discovered the bliss of bhakti yoga, the power or spiritual community, as well as the potent medicine of chanting the Divine Name.
In 1982, when Muktananda passed away, I decided to pursue the yoga of knowledge, jnana yoga, and entered first a Master's program and then a Ph.D. program in the Religions of India at Harvard University. It was thrilling to learn about the roots of my spiritual experiences, as I studied Sanskrit and the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. It was an amazing blessing to be able to spend seven years researching and writing a book on one of the greatest spiritual beings of our time, Anandamayi Ma. I came to enjoy a direct relationship with the Divine Feminine as I simultaneously immersed myself in Ma and facilitated a year-long women’s spirituality program at Interface in Cambridge, MA.
After I completed my Ph.D., I taught in academia for several years but found that I was first and foremost a practitioner and that I preferred to teach in venues in which I was free to share my personal practice and experiences. In the late nineties, I began to establish a powerful connection with Tibetan Buddhism through attending teachings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and studying with Lama Tsultrim Allione at Tara Mandala in Colorado. I began to practice Green Tara practice and to teach workshops on many aspects of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
In the meantime, the only thing missing in my spiritual life was the heart-opening chanting of the early days in Muktananda’s ashrams. How could I find a community to chant with that was inclusive of all of my practices and spiritual connections? When I went to the first Ecstatic Chant weekend at Omega in 2004, I knew I had found my answer. As I became immersed in the ecstatic chanting of Krishna Das, Deva Premal and Miten, and Wah!, I realized that my calling was to share my passion for chanting. I invested in a harmonium and, as soon as I got home, I began inviting friends over for kirtan. What began in our living room became a monthly Lincoln Kirtan at St. Anne’s Church, bringing together old timers as well as those completely new to chanting to sing the infinite names of the Divine. Lincoln Kirtan thrived for 12 years.
Our kirtan CD, Jai Ma!, came out in 2007, dedicated to the Divine Mother in all her manifestations, particularly as Anandamayi Ma, the subject of my book, Mother of Bliss. In 2013 I was blessed to be able to travel to Ma’s ashram in Omkareshwar, India and receive initiation into Ma’s lineage from a direct disciple of Ma’s, Shri Swami Kedarnath.
In 2006, my husband, Ted, and I began the process of starting a high school for peace, called The Karuna School (karunaa is compassion in Sanskrit). We gathered a group of creative folks committed to peace, social justice and contemplative practice to create a vision of a five-year high school that would provide international social service project opportunities as part of its curriculum. In 2008, we received a letter of blessing for The Karuna School from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and things accelerated from there. The Karuna School has offered workshops and trainings to both teachers and students in mindfulness, non-violent communication and council circles. Presently, Nicole and John Churchill of Boulder, CO have taken the reins and are hoping to have a multi-generational Karuna School on the ground soon.
In the fall of 2102, I completed a year-long training in Mindfulness in Education as well as a training to teach .b, a high school mindfulness curriculum out of Oxford, England, to teens. For five years, I taught mindfulness and council circle to teens as well as trained teachers in schools from pre-K through 12th grade throughout New England to include mindfulness and social-emotional learning in their classrooms.
I am currently working on a project with a dynamic group of fellow academics who share a passion for contemplative practice, social and environmental justice, and personal transformation. We are dreaming a virtual, contemplative university into being and will have more concrete updates available soon.
Meanwhile, after four years, I am completing a second book on Anandamayi Ma, a collection of her satsangs recorded between 1960 and 1981. This book will be called The Gospel of Shri Anandamayi Ma: Conversations with the Divine Mother and it will be published sometime in 2021, actual date and publisher TBA soon.
I am also immersed in training in the Yuthok Nyingtig, the Heart Teachings of Yuthok, the King of Tibetan Medicine, who lived in the 12th century. I am finding these teachings, as taught by Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, a lineage holder in this ancient medical lineage, powerful and relevant to both my physical and spiritual life.I am also immersed in training in the Yuthok Nyingtig, the Heart Teachings of Yuthok, the King of Tibetan Medicine, who lived in the 12th century. I am finding these teachings, as taught by Dr. Nida Chenagtsang, a lineage holder in this ancient medical lineage, powerful and relevant to both my physical and spiritual life.
As you can see, my life is joyfully full with finishing the second book on Anandamayi Ma, leading Anandamayi Ma Satsang, studying Tibetan healing, and collaborating with friends on a new vision for a contemplative university.
Tasyai Shri Devyai Namaha, to you, Divine Mother, I bow!
Contact me at email@example.com