My “True” name, Chân An Đinh (Concentration on Peace), was given to me by my teacher, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (called “Thay” which means “Teacher” in Vietnamese). The name is derived from a deep aspiration to achieve continuous, never-wavering, peace of mind…for myself… and others. Through grace, this aspiration has become my life’s purpose.
I’m a Christian with a practice of Engaged Buddhism. After practicing in the Plum Village tradition for 13 years, Thay ordained me as a Dharma Teacher (see photo on next page). My practice is an integrative one, centered on Mindfulness, Meditation, and Peacemaking, and a combined spiritual and therapeutic approach to healing and wholeness.
With more than 22 years of direct experience in the application of Mind/Body awareness practices, Inner Child Psychology, and Buddhist Meditation, I enjoy the benefits of my commitment to self-discovery and the process of releasing my full potential.
There really is Light at the end of the tunnel.
During these years, my heart has remained open, and my attention has remained focused on finding my way. I have understood that I can trust the Light to always be there to illuminate my path.
My “root guru,” the woman who birthed me spiritually, is a psychotherapist. Five years of group and individual therapy with her were essential years of family-of-origin and inner child healing. In the process, I discovered my passion… World Peace…. an expression of my deep aspiration for ALL beings to live in peace.
The path has unfolded for me in magical ways. I’ve received blessings and personal, individual teachings from some of the most enlightened and beloved spiritual teachers of our times… Mother Teresa, His Holiness The Dalai Lama, and The Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh….as well as other, less well-known, powerful teachers and healers.
During and following the transforming work of psychotherapy, I was lead to practice in several spiritual traditions. I felt no confusion, no sense of indecisiveness, but only a certainty and a lot of gratitude that the path was unfolding for me in such richness.
I’ve understood that my responsibility has been to stay present and pay attention. Once my eyes opened to the way things are, an abiding faith has replaced all doubt. I’ve trusted that all is revealed when the time is right.
In the early ‘90s, I encountered The Course in Miracles which I studied for two years. My experience of Jesus as an Elder Brother and Teacher has been profound and personal. I’ve needed no intermediary to intercede with Him on my behalf.
For several years, I studied and practiced Shamanism. In those circles, I experienced my Oneness with the Natural World. Inspired by my teacher, Carol Proudfoot-Edgar, I discovered the bear energy in me. Through dance and trance, I earned the name, “Standing Bear.” The energy of Bear continues to sustain and protect me.
The practice of Native American spirituality through frequent participation in Sweat Lodge Ceremonies has tested my faith and helped me to develop mental/emotional endurance. Some of my most profound healing has occurred during the intensity of a Sweat Lodge experience. Non-native people in South Carolina, as well as the Ponca of Oklahoma and the Lakota people in South Dakota, have welcomed me into their Lodges.
In 1996, the determination to progress on the path led me to leave my family and my community for an extended time. With no firm itinerary, no advance preparations for accommodations, and no assurance of what my experience might be, I exchanged my business suit for hiking boots and my briefcase for a backpack. My aspiration to live and practice with Tibetan Buddhist nuns in Dharamsala, India became a reality, as did the sitting of three 10-day meditation retreats in the tradition of S.N. Goenka and the challenges of solo travel in a country of much diversity and complexity. Major highlights were my surprising encounter with Mother Teresa, the group teachings from His Holiness The Dalai Lama, and my 20 – minute private audience with him. His direct teachings continue to guide and inspire me.
Other faith communities have sustained and nurtured me over the years, including a Quaker Meeting in Maine, a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in South Carolina, and the 12-step program, Al-Anon.
Equally sacred, filled with challenging opportunities from which to learn, has been my journey as a wife and the mother of three (now middle-aged) children. My earlier years as a single mom, followed by a second marriage and divorce, were profoundly transforming, providing solid experience that I now bring to my life as a teacher of the Dharma.
I’ve made my home in Vietnam for nine years, dividing my time between SE Asia, the US, France, and New Zealand.