Mindfulness is being in the present moment in an open and friendly way. It's both mind-training and heart-training.You can start right where you are.
Hi, my name is Joy, and I’m glad you’re here. Mindfulness is true medicine. Small steps have big impact. To learn more, watch this short video:
On Monday, I co-led a meditation retreat in Oshkosh prison. Our mindfulness group met for extended practice, all members staying the whole 2.5 hours, deepening their awareness, feeling vulnerable yet safe, and practicing peace.
In 2011, two years before I left academia, I embraced creativity. I took a poetry course, a self-portraiture class, and a path-finder tutorial that included daily writing and exploration. I dove into these experiences. They helped me understand and see myself differently. They awakened my heart.
On Saturday, after the farmer’s market, we sat on the back porch reading books. Currently, I’m rereading Pema Chödrön’s “When Things Fall Apart.” It’s the most dog-eared book in my library. I found it 20 years ago, while reading scads of self-help books. Pema’s words were so real and true.
A story from my last year in academia: It's the first week of term, students wrangling to get into my over-enrolled classes. After a long day, I receive a phone call from my sister: "Dad's in the hospital. They think he had a stroke." I start sobbing. Jackie quickly replies, "Joy, he's okay. The doctors are doing more tests, but it's probably a mini-stroke. He's okay."
Over 15 years, I've made huge leaps. Yet each leap contained countless small steps. My path—from self-aversion to self-compassion, from non-stop striving to intentional being, from anxiety to relative ease—was gradual.
In prison last week, I shared about an important yet difficult relationship in my life. I spoke about the clutch in my heart and my belly. How I need to set boundaries and be honest, but I don’t want to cause harm. Mindful speech is truthful, helpful, and kind.
Twenty years ago, I would have characterized my mind as a “worrying mind.” I worried anytime Mark traveled. I worried anytime I was on a plane (fearing a crash). I had middle-of-the-night worries about work: Am I prepared for class? How will I complete this seemingly endless to-do list? Will I get tenure? What if I’m rejected?
Years ago, when I was working long hours, feeling stressed, and focused on externals, I declared, “I just need to let go.” A wise friend looked at me and noted: “Joy, you can’t, all of sudden, let go. What’s one small step you can take?”
The year after my mom died, I inhabited a raw, tender, vivid state of grief. I looked around at people’s interactions—in coffee shops, classes, activities, and workplaces. And I noticed two things:
I volunteer in prison in two capacities: leading a secular mindfulness meditation group and holding one-on-one visits with prisoners. The sharing in group is powerful: courage, wisdom, and vulnerability. Yet the sharing in pastoral visits goes deeper.