As far back as I can remember I’ve had a penchant for questioning. I had a felt sense early on that there is more than the daily, external fodder we entertain so readily. And despite growing up in a loving home it seemed clear to me early on that suffering was part of the package of life. The combination of these two forces – suffering and a call to questioning – have fueled an ongoing and passionate quest for greater intimacy with the Great Mystery of life.
I tried to be a normal kid, but often felt more comfortable with my inner musings than the antics of the social world. I loved to contemplate questions about God, the universe, death and the meaning of life with anyone who would listen. I would write poems about my inner life. Around the age of 12 I became fond of watching sunsets and would watch them so long that I would forget myself and come to experience what I now know as Samadhi. A state of non-identity where my separate sense of self would dissolve and there would only be sunset. I was it and it was me.
In young adulthood I attended university at Augustana University College – a Liberal Arts institution where life finally started to make sense. I questioned my socialization and the and the nature of the “good life” feverishly and felt a belonging there I had never felt before. I majored in Sociology which, at the time at Augustana, had a particularly philosophical bent, which I supplemented with a minor in psychology and philosophy. During this time I also began working in the human services field and have never left. Over the course of the last 18 years I have worked with children, adults, elderly in many capacities, I have worked in the field of family violence, literacy and mental health as frontline staff and program directors.
My tendency toward social activism and human services became more focused after having my first and only child in 2009. In her second year I began a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Yorkville University and am now registered as a Psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists. It has been in this way that I have been able to turn social activism into transformation of lives one at a time. Humbled by the constant desire for people to live and love, despite trauma and despair, is one of my greatest inspirations.
And then there was yoga. No matter what fluctuated in my life, there was yoga. No matter what trauma or exultation – there was yoga. My primary teacher, Dawn Kilarski, was not a celebrity, she had no Facebook posse, nor Instagram fame. She retired recently, from teaching yoga, and leaves a legacy of depth, embodiment, spirituality and enchantment in her wake. She is a tiny woman with a giant capacity for God. I am eternally grateful for her influence and consider myself very fortunate to have found her at 22 years old and became ushered into deeper conversation with my inward path through her. I have had many other influences that have affected me in much the same ways. My therapist, Barry Vall, mentored me in the ways of spirit, helping me to become more and more myself over the years. My beloved friends, my daughter are my constant teachers who show me myself, challenge me and love me into being more fully human every day.
In addition to Dawn I have studied yoga at the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga with Baba Hari Dass, with Mary Jo Fetterly, Jennifer Steed, David McAmmond and most extensively with Sandra Sammartino whose emphasis on the emotional body has been a huge influence in my life.
Early in my university studies Dawn and Barry introduced me to the Enneagram which alongside yoga is one of the most profound and intricate models of spirituality I’ve come cross in all my explorations. I have studied it for years with Dawn and Barry and their teachers Carol Ann Walsh and David Gotch of Inscapes, located in Winnipeg. I have taught introductions to this system and it constantly informs my yoga practice and teaching as well as my interactions with psychotherapy clients.
Besides these main influences I have spent much time studying a hodgepodge of other healing systems – Ayurveda at the Ayurvedic Institute in Seattle, Reiki, Body Talk and a host of approaches to psychotherapy. I have also studied ongoingly with Thomas Atum O’Kane – a Jungian analyst who facilitates workshops and trainings internationally. Every influence flows in and through each other and out of this flow I instinctually draw out the primary mechanisms of influence and principles or processes of action for each healing modality. At this point I am threading all that I have learned from others and my own inner world to offer practices that penetrate to the core of what I believe to be our biggest obstacle to spiritual realization: our understandable inability to stay present through the muck and wonder of our emotional worlds, long enough and intimately enough to pass through and sink into self, soul and Source.