Laura: Can you please name some of your teachers who inspired you with their wisdom and encouragement over the years to be in this place you find yourself in right now in your life?
Jan: Hi, Laura and all of her lovely fans! I am very glad to be here with you today. I love it when women come together in soulful ways to share their inner journeys, don't you?
Great question about teachers, Laura, there have been so many. As you know I have been blessed to have amazing mentors in my life, people who took me under their wings and shared wisdom until I could fly better on my own. :-)
One of the first was Wayne Dyer. I met Wayne in the early '90s (before he got super-famous) because he is from Michigan (as am I) and he paid regular visits to our Michigan Speaker's Association meetings. He encouraged me to write my first book, "How Does Your Garden Grow: Lessons in Self-Nurturing for Women." It was actually a journal and audiotape. He gave a copy to one of his daughters. I felt quite honored. He was my first big encourager.
Next came Thich Nhat Hanh, whose work I found when I was so stressed and overwhelmed with life (mid-'90s) that I couldn't function anymore. His work on inner peace through mindfulness laid the foundation for my recovery and all the work I now do in the world. (I have never met him but would sure like to!)
Then Sue Patton Thoele whooshed into my life. Her book, The Courage to Be Myself, blew me out of the water. It invited me to radical self-acceptance and how to live more gently with myself. As a recovering SuperWoman and perfectionist, her work (and presence) led me into self-love and kindness like I'd never known before. We have become good friends and I consider her my dearest mentor for life.
Today, a beloved mentor is Sylvia Boorstein, a Buddhist teacher and practicing Jew. She is my spiritual director and teacher. Through Sylvia, I've fully embraced mindful living and compassion practices. They have radically transformed my life, especially the practice of "Metta," loving-kindness practice. With her blessing (and under her guidance), I now "teach" Metta in a formal way to those who wish to learn and benefit from this heart-opening practice.
And I must mention His Holiness the Dalai Lama, whom I received teachings from 3 years ago and took sacred vows with. He holds my heart …
I believe these 5 teachers are the ones whose work has mostly deeply influenced my own ...
There are so many others, Laura, but I must move on or I will never get to the rest of your questions!
Laura: B.B.C., (before Buddha Chick) what work were you doing in the world?
Before Buddha Chick™, I was an educator (teacher of "World Religions") and a workshop facilitator. In 1996, that shifted and my heart leaned into writing for and about women after having a major health crisis. I have now authored 6 personal/spiritual growth books for women with healing and transformation in mind (the newest is Your Truest Self, Sorin Books, 2008). I also pen a nationally syndicated magazine column (Women's LifeStyle, since 1998). I've been leading women's retreats for nearly 20 years now. And I am a certified Spiritual Director with an interfaith focus in private practice and through Dominican Center in Grand Rapids, MI. I am also on staff there as a mentor to spiritual directors in training. Everything I have ever done is rooted in supporting women on their spiritual growth journeys. It is my passion and, I believe, my purpose. I love it!
Oh, and I was, and am, a mom to 3 incredible kids!
Laura: Where did “Buddha Chick” arise from, and what does the name signify for you?
The name, Buddha Chick™, popped into my awareness one day when I was feeling especially ill-at-ease with my life. I was looking at images of the Buddha who always seemed to carry a slight smile on his lips. These images never failed to exude a feeling of deep peace and I really wanted to feel more of that myself. One day I remember saying to my husband in a particularly exasperating moment, "I just want to be a Buddha Chick!" and the die was cast. It seems that by offering that intention aloud, I was put on path of uncovering my Buddha Chick self—and living with real inner peace. I was so tired of feeling frazzled and stressed!
"Buddha Chick™" has become my way of relating to myself, others, and the world. Buddha Chick lives in every woman. Each of us has her in our essence—a naturally calm, clear, wise woman. We simply have to access her. After many years of searching, experimenting, and practicing, I have finally developed a program for how any woman can access her, too—no matter what is happening in our lives.
Laura: Although Buddha Chick is grounded in Buddhist practices, it is offered to women of any spiritual background. Can you say more about the interspiritual nature of this work? Must one self identify as a Buddhist to be a Buddha Chick?
Jan: I know you have benefitted yourself from the Buddha Chick heart and mindset, Laura, and it blends quite well with your Jewish roots. Sylvia too. Me too. I like to say that I have Christian roots (I was raised Lutheran), but have Buddhist wings. I do not call myself a Buddhist because I do not ascribe to the Buddhist religious practices. So, in answer to your question, does someone have to be Buddhist? No. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. The women who come to Buddha Chick™ are open, however, and eager to learn from the world's "wisdom traditions," hoping to connect with the sacred truths that run through all.
Buddha Chick™ Training (now in the form of "The Mindful Makeover Kit") works with many of the mind and heart "trainings" that are sourced in Buddhist teachings: specifically, mindfulness, compassion and loving-kindness. But, in its core, the Course is contemplative and pulls upon practices from many of the world's contemplative traditions. It is a unique blending of what I have found WORKS to breakthrough our barriers to living free with true peace in our hearts. It is interspiritual, non-religious, and works very well with all theologies because it gets to the heart of the matter: how we can be more present, openhearted, and kind to ourselves and others—for our personal transformation and for the healing of the planet.
Laura: In your experience, interviewing women, facilitating women’s retreats and mentoring one on one as a Spiritual Director, what are some of the common themes you see many women struggling through day to day?
Jan: You know, Laura, I started speaking and teaching in the 90's about self-care and women. My book, Coming Home to Ourselves, was all about that because it is what I struggled with the most. Here it is 15 years later and we are STILL struggling with this. We are too busy, feel overwhelmed and stressed with life, and we do not put ourselves and our well-being on the top of our ever-present "To-Do List." Many of us live like "Zombie Chicks": the walking dead, exhausted, just going through the motions, trying to get life handled; putting off our personal peace and happiness until …..
The truth of the matter is, life will never show up how we want it unless we put into practice the values we talk about—and we do it for ourselves first. We stop pushing ourselves so hard, we start being kinder toward ourselves. We accept ourselves as we are, yet vow to let go of everything that keeps us stuck in old disempowered patterns. For me, a woman's journey comes down to two words—self-compassion. Without "lived" self-compassion, a woman will go around and around on the hamster wheel of life forever. Her peace and joy will always elude her.
Laura: What are some of the tools you offer through Buddha Chick to help women discover their “Truest Selves,” find more moments of equanimity, joy and acceptance within their sacred-ordinary lives?
Jan: In the training ("Mindful Makeover Kit"), we begin with creating a new relationship with our breath so it is a sacred touchpoint we can always come back to whenever life feels rocky. We build on that with various "Pockets of Peace," 5-10 minute practices that immediately drop us back into our "true self." Through mindfulness techniques, we learn to distinguish between thoughts that come from the ego (they always take us back to fear, worry, stress) and those that are sourced in our essence (they take is into peace, love, joy). We create new thoughts. We learn to do the same with our emotions, and root out those that keep us from living our kindness and wisdom. And all the way through this process, we bombard ourselves with loving-kindness. Self-compassion practices (like Metta) are what wipe the slate clean and give us a brand new start on life. A Mindful Makeover!
At BuddhaChick.Org, we provide tele-classes, online retreats and courses that support this process. Everything we do there provides women with tools to live more mindfully (rather than on auto-pilot and mind-lessly!), with deep care and kindness by cultivating self-compassion.
Laura: I have written here on my blog about Dharma Sister’s Circle and about the original Buddha Chick Flight School course I took with you when you first launched it. Can you tell us how your newest Buddha Chick offering is different from the original?
Mentoring is really the key to success with this program, as you know, Laura, which is relatively unheard of in online or audio courses. Personal assistance is what will help a woman uncover her Buddha Chick self and blast through ego-barriers to living as her. We just can't do this process alone. The ego is too powerful and it will sabotage us. So "The Makeover Kit" provides a private Discussion Forum where a woman can connect with me, ask questions, get help, and also connect with other women who are taking the Course. It's a very cool set-up! I know without personal mentoring I would NOT be where I am today on my life journey. I know you have had this same experience with mentors, Laura. Mentors are invaluable and a blessing. Every woman should have a mentor!
When you are new on this path of mindful, compassionate living it is easy to fall victim to "spiritual amnesia," so Dharma Sisters Circle, an online community, was really created to help women stay on this path so they don't fall back into old patterns that continue to create pain and suffering. It's a great support system, as you know, Laura! We learn, practice, and continue to grow together on a month-to-month basis.
Laura: What does a typical day look like for you in regard to balancing family, work, self-care and soul-care?
Jan: Even though I am a "public person," I am a contemplative. I begin my day in silence, with nature, a little music, good organic coffee! At least 30 minutes for soul time in the morning is key to my well-being. I am very faithful about this. I write in the morning and do "busy work" in the afternoon as my morning time is my creative time. I try to walk at least a mile every day. I try to get out in nature as much as I can. Nature is my "God" connection. I also try to take one 24-hour period every week away from the computer for Sabbath time. I am a big proponent of sacred rest. I work hard and rest hard. (LOL). I feel my life is quite harmonious because my spiritual life is my priority. When that is No.1 on the list, everything else in my life falls into place. I believe this can be the same for any of us. We just have to be willing …
I am very blessed to work at home with my husband, who is my beloved and my creative partner. He has 4 children and I have 3 (ages 21-40), and 5 grandchildren, so weekends are often spent with family. My phone is always close by because it always seems somebody is needing something, but I have learned to put healthy boundaries around that. I know that I cannot be fully present and loving to my very large family without being fully present and loving toward myself.
Laura: What nourishes you and brings you joy?
Jan: I'll say it simply with a few words, because I could give you a very long list here.
Be-ing in Love with others … with everyone …
If I can access this kind of Love on a minute-by-minute basis, life is grand!
Visit BuddhaChick.org to learn more about "The Mindful Makeover Kit" and Buddha Chick™ courses, upcoming tele-classes, and retreats. Sign up for Jan's newsletter, to receive thank you gifts and news of her forthcoming FREE e-book, "The Buddha Chick Guide to Life."
Janice Lynne Lundy is the woman behind "Buddha Chick™" and the creator of "The Mindful Makeover Kit." She is an educator, interfaith spiritual director, retreat leader and celebrated author of 6 personal/spiritual growth books for women. Visit her at BuddhaChick.org, DharmaSistersCircle.org and AwakenedLiving.com