I wasn’t planning to re-open this website. Then, yesterday, I was sharing a meal and a conversation with a dear friend. She’s a fellow blogger, and we were speaking about my website. “I’m not going to open it again,” I told her. “My inner critic has a party telling me that nothing I publish is good enough.” “Why do you write?” she asked, insightfully. “What was the reason you wrote your blog in the first place.” And just like that, I remembered. I reconnected with the mission that had urged me to launch this blog, this business, in the first place. It was clear, and simple.
“To help people,” I said earnestly. “I learned so much that helped me on my healing journey, and I wanted to share that with people.” “That,” she replied, very wisely, “sounds much more important than what your inner critic has to say.” And I knew she was right; and I felt inspired to relaunch, inner critic be damned. (Right now the inner critical voice is whispering, “this is pointless. No one will read this anyway. It’s too long, not riveting enough. I tell the voice to hush, I am writing...)
Just over a year ago, I closed this website to embark upon a journey into the dharma. I began as a working guest, living and volunteering at the Insight Meditation Society, in Barre, MA, close to my hometown. After this beautiful interlude, I travelled to the West coast, and spent seven rigorous, exhausting, amazing months living at Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon. This time to practice meditation and mindful living in community has been an incredible gift, opening and touching my heart in ways that I can’t truly convey. All I can tell you is that when I think of the blessing this has been to my path, I’m overwhelmed with tears of something like pure joy and gratitude.
The truth is, I never intended to leave the monastery, at least, not yet. I arrived at the same time as two other amazing women, Chloe and Christy. After seven months of practicing together, the three of us all decided we were ready to make a year-long commitment to live and practice at Great Vow. At the monastery, such commitments are marked by formal ceremonies, performed in front of the whole community. On the very eve when the three of us were to take our ceremony, I received communication from my mother. She had fallen, on the ice. She had broken her hip, and was unable to walk. As she lives alone, please, could one of her daughters come home to care for her?
I have two sisters, one of whom is a long-term resident and magical unicorn fairy princess at the monastery, aspiring to one day ordain as a Zen priest. The other, a powerful, loving healer, lives in Portland, OR, and our loving mother lives in our childhood home, in Massachusetts. The three of us called a meeting, and we decided that I would be the one to return home and care for our mother. As I am the eldest, and had the least commitment to be on the west coast, this did make sense. Still, I had mixed feelings as I watched my two friends take their commitment ceremonies the next day, and then made the long journey back east.
I still thought that I would return to the monastery after mom got back on her feet. There’s an ache in my chest at the fact that I never got to properly say goodbye, say thank you to the community, to the roshis, to the grounds. I will go back, one day soon, but only to visit. Ah, it’s such a marvelous place, full of magical beings of light and love and brave warriors facing incredible personal pain and physical discomfort, chanting the bodhisatta vows day after day, offering reverance in the zendo with the act of silent meditation...
But I have a dream. I don’t want to be separate from the world. I want to be a help to the world! There’s a deep part of my soul that wishes to find meaningful work. I’ve been so focused on myself, on my practice, my healing. Now, I want to offer back. and it feels joyful! so, I’m here again, in Massachusetts...and I am looking for a job where I can be of benefit. The process is bringing up many fears and anxieties about the future...and I’m using my meditation practice to work with the fear, turn towards it, instead of away. Zen practice taught me that I do have the strength to face myself. So I am facing my inner critic, and writing anyway, and putting it out to the world, with the intention and the hope that it will be of benefit. May my words be a blessing to you, and may you be well, and peaceful, and find ease and know deep joy.
So much love,
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Hi, I'm Jessie A...
I'm an energy healer with a passion for compassion, a sparkly love affair with crystals, and a deep commitment to evolving awareness.