I was raised by all women on a hippie farm in Rhode Island. I first discovered Buddhism when I was 13 as an answer to the dissatisfaction and disconnection I felt in relation to society, giving me the first taste of awareness that I had agency in relation to my attitudes and perception. This began a fairly wild search that ranged from holding Zen Koans throughout my day to seeking out spiritual teachers to planning to overthrow capitalism from my teenage bedroom. Having no guidance on how to pursue a spiritual way of life, my search for fulfillment led me to art making and art school where I made conceptual sculpture, physically actualizing different models of perception and cognition.
When 9/11 hit, my modest theoretical study of Buddhism couldn't match the crushing sense of loss I experienced. I had to find something deeper than theory. I was introduced to concentration meditation and a rigorous morality practice, which rewrote who I was and what I imagined the world to be. This is when I first began teaching meditation formally.
By chance, one of Shinzen's long time students was teaching in New York City. He spoke with deep clarity and from a place of deep insight and I immediately knew I had to work directly with a teacher. The results of working with a mentor were electric. Transformation has been rapid and consistent because I was finally able to have my questions answered directly and be shown that many of the "problems" I experienced were actually insights.
Although I had been teaching meditation for some time, I took Shinzen's encouragement and began mentoring others in the Basic Mindfulness system, working with groups and individuals teaching Basic Mindfulness and modern Theravadan Buddhism. I deeply enjoy teaching with Shinzen's system because it naturally bridges gaps between seemingly disparate traditions and is designed to turn any challenge into a gateway to awakening.
For more about Janusz, visit his website: http://www.onawakening.org/.