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Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Co-interviews: Janice Chrysler (Mindful Journey):: Chris Faiers (ZenRiver Gardens)

Janice Chrysler will bring her meditation and prayer circle to ZenRiver Gardens on Tuesday, Aug. 30, for a 7 pm meditation. Visitors will meet by the picnic tables on the 'shaman shack' west lawn. Participants will join in group meditation, and people are also encouraged to practice individual moving meditation on the sumac trails.  Everyone most welcome. 


1.) I understand we both came to our early spiritual awareness through involvement with the Anglican Church. Would you mind expanding on these experiences?

Janice: I actually started in the United Church, had a Free Methodist grandmother, Fundamental Christian grandparents as well and apparently a few missionaries and a minister in the lot to boot.  About twenty years ago I went to the Anglican church as I was going through a time I didn't feel I was getting all the answers or fulfillment I wanted. Seeing how I so enjoy  meditation now, I can look back and understand that the Anglican church's rituals and prayers met that desire at that moment in my life.  I was fortunate to meet some beautiful and loving people in all my church families but also learned about the politics of such organizations through working on boards etc. I still never felt I was allowed to move ahead spiritually. Then one day all the prayers that had once meant so much to me seemed to be more like negative walls surrounding me and keeping me in place like a jail.  One Sunday I just knew it would be my last.  I had vowed to the Universe I was ready to follow my dharma whatever it might be and I knew leaving the church was my first wasn't easy and it took me awhile. I knew if I was to lead and help others on their path, I had to be free of any connection to organized that way I could freely welcome all beliefs into my services. No client is expected to "fit" into a certain set of rules.

1) Chris, do you feel you still hold onto some of the Anglican traditions or rituals in your spiritual practices today or find you are combining various rituals?

I was an altar boy from age 11 to 15, actively participating in all the rituals, including the communion service. Then I started feeling alienated from the Church, especially as most parishioners didn't appear to hold sincere beliefs. I felt more spiritual presence walking in the woods around a small lake while the rest of my family attended church on Sundays. The motivation for me to find some sort of spiritual support came a few years later, in my late teens, with the threat of being drafted for the Vietnam War. I bought a paperback on yoga and meditation, and began practicing both. Around age 15 I had also read T. Lobsang Rampa's fictional account of life in a Buddhist Monastery, "The Third Eye", and this undoubtly influenced me as well. And yes, I find some parallels between the traditional Episcopal/Anglican upbringing and the personal spiritual rituals I've practiced for about a decade. In particular the singing bowl I ring to begin my daily prayers reminds me of the sanctus bell in the Anglican service. And of course prayer, incense, perhaps the small statue of Buddha on my home altar rather than a cross. And like yourself, I've also incorporated aspects of First Nations spirituality, such as smudging. At my Zenriver Gardens retreat I like to playfully paint "crazy wisdom" designs on my shaman shack, on a rock cleft, and even on trees.      

2.) I also know you are a master in Reiki and a certified hypnotherapist. What drew you to these practices?

Janice: It may sound out there but I really did have a feeling deep within all my life that I would be drawn to do something spiritual.  For many years I assumed it would be in a traditional and simple  form of service, you know, working in the church or volunteering but as time went on I felt I was missing something. Then over a few years I found I was having physical ailments that could not be helped medically so I turned my sights on alternative forms of healing and meditation. It was through these personal life changes that I met my dear friend Lynda who was a Reiki Master. She encouraged me to learn Reiki, I did and that led me to more study of mind, body and spirit connections. It was a natural step for me to then learn hypnosis as a way to take clients on a spiritual journey through their own subconscious mind or back to past lives. I still chuckle to myself when I look back on my own journey as it is not at all where I thought I would go! But boy what a trip it has been so far!

3.) When and why did you start your spiritual circle (meditation) in Marmora? Did you start the circle before or after you opened your business Mindful Journey?

Janice: Teaching is something I always have enjoyed and realize now it wasn't in the schools I was meant to be but in my own living room, library or Zen Gardens helping others discover their own spiritual awareness.  It has been through my own lessons learned that I find the inspiration and desire to show others.  I began the classes right after I completed my hypnosis course and officially took on the name Mindful Journey. I was teaching Reiki for about a year prior to that and always included meditation in those workshops as well.

3) Chris, what inspired you to create Zen River Gardens? What plans to you have for its future if any?

 Chris: Initially I bought it as a private retreat, a place to relax in a natural environment and to get some exercise grooming the property. Not long after I purchased ZRG I visited a local Vietnamese Buddhist monastery, the Zen Forest. The wisdom of the head monk, Thay, and the calm of the Zen Forest inspired me to name my new property ZenRiver. With some poet friends, we've been holding annual Purdy Country Literary Festivals there - this summer we held "PurdyFest #5"! Meeting you (Janice) has been something I've hoped would develop - holding organized meditation sessions rather than depending on individuals to meditate and reflect by themselves, wandering the trails and sitting by the river. ZRG is also an artists retreat, a place where people can visit to feel close to nature and be inspired to create.    


4. Please describe your weekly circle, how often and where you meet, contact information, and an overview of 'typical members' (if such a thing is possible).

Janice: We meet every Tuesday at 52 Victoria Ave, Marmora at 7pm.  I always have some herbal teas ready for everyone to enjoy as we gather in our circle.  Each evening we have a topic we discuss and this can be on everything from increasing your psychic abilities, creating sacred spaces, increasing your awareness, chanting, drumming you name it and we will talk about it! If I had to say what a typical member was and I would have to say any man or woman who is sincere in getting to know their own mental, physical and spiritual body better.  The only thing that is asked is that we all respect each others beliefs, come together without judgment, open our hearts to receive and give love and compassion.
Any one wanting more information is more than welcome to either visit my website at or call me directly at 613-472-0341. If I don't answer the phone, please leave a message and I will return your call.

4)You mentioned you have a variety of people come to your place in the woods.  What is their reaction once they have been on the grounds for awhile?

Chris: Everyone who visits ZenRiver Gardens expresses a sense of peacefulness. Ottawa poet Jim Larwill serves as our unofficial camp counselor during PurdyFests, and when he returned home recently from PurdyFest #5 he sent me an email saying how grounded he felt at ZRG.

5. On our tour of ZenRiver Gardens yesterday, you described some of your circle's deeply shared spiritual occurrences and successes. Would you mind re-telling some of these profound experiences?

Janice: The saying goes in our circle, "you can tell its been a good night when somebody cries." Now, that may not seem like a place you would want to go to but believe me we have all let go of some burdens, forgiven others and ourselves, felt the love of angels, loved ones and of everyone in the room....a feeling that goes deeper than words. We have sent healing energy to others and they have reported back to us that they felt it and always knew when we were sending Reiki and love to them.
So many personal moments have been shared and friendships formed because we all know this is a place of learning, growing and finding our own truth.  It is not uncommon to physically feel the temperature rise as we meditate, actually feel the energy being moved around our circle and experience the presence of enormous energy filling our space.
I think the most important thing we have all learned is to accept that each one of us is doing the best he or she can at this particular moment in time.  What we feel today may be totally different tomorrow. Heck, things change from the moment someone comes in the door to the time they leave!  All is good here, positive energy only!

5) Can you retell some interesting happenings to you while meditating at Zen River Gardens? Elsewhere?
Chris: Of course there is always the deep feeling of peacefulness after a session of meditation. Several times when coming out of particularly deep sessions, I've felt a sense of timelessness, with the sensation that the ground and the banks of the river were rising and falling with the ages. Just sitting still in zazen has let the birds and animals display their playfulness and routines: huge snapping turtles mating by the bridge, two blue herons flying close to the shack, then doing a loop-the-loop over the river while Dr. John and I stared at each other in disbelief. A muskrat splashing and swimming on his back, unaware a human was monitoring his silliness. I have also experienced incredible encounters with two spirit guides during moving meditation on the Trans Canada Trail. I believe they reside in Brahma. Also several times I've encountered a very ancient and 'scary' First Nations shaman who lives in the body of a great horned owl - this has dissuaded me from further practices of "mindcasting" into larger wild animals!  

6. What are your group's plans for future development?

Janice: Funny you should ask that  - that is going to be the discussion at tonight's class (Aug 16). This particular group has a core of about six that have been meeting every Tuesday for the past three to four years, have taken various workshops and levels of Reiki so we are all ready to take it up a notch. That is why this past year I have focused more on healing sessions and more spiritual awareness work. For example, we are finishing up on discussing our shadow side and how to work through all that fun stuff.
I have been asking other speakers to come in and talk or guide our meditation class so we have a chance to experience other views and ideas.  Road trips or on the planning board - thus Zen River Gardens.

7. I know we share a similar spiritual world view, and that we know this is a crucial time in the evolution of human consciousness. Do you mind explaining further?  

Janice: There is no denying it any longer that humankind is at a very critical time in our history.  I feel we are in the era of consciousness and we will either ignore this and create our own destruction as we cannot continue on the road we have made for ourselves or we can choose the road of light, love and healing through the power of our minds and spirit.  We have tried leaving spiritual matters behind but now we are in a place where we are naturally looking for that connection to Spirit again - it is a time we develop new forms of making this connection and I feel much of that will come from setting aside dogma and focusing on positive energy flow. Once that starts, so many areas of our life open up to new possibilities, creative thinking and actions to protect ourselves and this planet. There is so much we can learn from each other and various cultures and the joining of these makes for a very interesting and satisfying dish!

7) Chris, do you feel an sense of urgency to get out there and "do" something to help raise this consciousness? I know I do.
Even the majority of scientists now acknowledge that human activities are endangering the planet and Gaia. The irony is that we have to personally turn inward to counter this effect by raising our personal consciousnesses, rather than going outward and panicking and adding to the general alarmism and confusion. As much as we can, we want to help as many others as possible attain their highest levels of awareness. This is the main reason for ZRG, the creation of a natural calming center for individual and group reflection. A further irony is that the more desperate the planetary crisis becomes, the calmer we all must become. The hyper rationalism, science and materialism of the West are now meeting the internal wisdom of the East, and this is our role to facilitate the merging of these two very different traditions and ways of living. One path leads to imminent planetary destruction, the other to harmony and the evolution of humans.

Thank you, Janice,  for sharing your knowledge and leadership.

(Chris Faiers, Marmora, Ontario, Aug. 15, 2011)


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