Jeanine Siler Jones – Asheville, NC

Jeanine has been one of the primary igniters of Wisdom School Southeast. She resides in Asheville, NC, and was already an Enneagram teacher when her father, Mahan Siler, gave her The Wisdom Way of Knowing in the spring of 2009. Afterwards she knew she needed to experience a Wisdom School, and was able to do so in New York between 2009 and 2010.

At Jeanine’s invitation, Cynthia held a teaching at an Enneagram conference in North Carolina on G.I. Gurdjieff’s Law of Three and Law of Seven, after which the idea of holding a Wisdom School in Western North Carolina began to take shape. Episcopal bishop Porter Taylor and Robbin Whittington (later to become and facilitate an online presence hosting and archiving Cynthia’s teachings in the form of courses and other modalities of Wisdom’s expressions) came into the mix, and Wisdom School Southeast was born. Since those beginnings “there have been so many new arisings.”

Jeanine considers her primary post to be that of a Therapist and Spiritual Director. She holds a Masters degree in Social Work and a Certificate in Theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She works with people interested in spiritually integrated therapy, as well as Spiritual Direction and leads contemplative retreats and groups. Through the years she has co-facilitated groups and retreats with Ruth Hill, Marcella Kraybill-Greggo, Heather Ruce, Rebecca Parker and Laura Copeland. Currently she is co-leading online Wisdom circles using several of Cynthia’s core books like The Wisdom Way of Knowing and Mystical Hope as well as serving as a TA for online courses through The Center for Action and Contemplation. She is committed to strengthening and deepening the interconnectedness of the Wisdom community, sharing resources, and supporting our individual and collective becoming.

She writes: “The Wisdom thread that continually captures my curiosity and guides me in all those settings is the dynamic dance between ‘small self/larger Self’ or ‘adapted self’/Essential Self or the Psychological/Spiritual. I am curious about the expanded and contracted ways we engage our lives. Language gets tricky and (my!) binary mind wants to grab hold and define these ideas. Then, I’m drawn back to paradox, open awareness, and the practices: Centering Prayer, mindful attention, ‘where are my feet?’ As I notice sensation, soften the emotional identification and let go of thoughts, I come into three centered knowing where I can welcome the both/and while having access to a wider field inside me to be present with it all. I am drawn to the Gurdjieff work and using the conditions of our lives and our responses as the compost for our awakening. In my one on one work, I am in the trenches with people, yet also intending to be tapped into the still point within me that can know that vertical thread always available in the horizontal plane. Knowing with more of me. Wisdom prompts me to cultivate an open mind and heart for all the conditions of our lives, and to trust we can be present with ourselves and one another with what is actually happening. The Wisdom work grounds me in a deeper and wider knowing that includes both the psychological/developmental and the spiritual aspects of people.”

“Don’t strain yourself in the presence of Mystery” ~ Cynthia

“All spiritual practice is about strengthening the nervous system” ~ Cynthia

The marriage of nervous system regulation and spiritual practice is part of her daily work. How do we build trust in our body? What enables us to open our hearts to the Divine Mystery always leaning toward us? What cultivates presence? Engaging the practices of meditation, body prayers, breath practices, and working with inner tasks slowly lays the groundwork for deeper embodiment. All these practices (and more) cultivate an openness that allow us to receive “the impressions and subtle vibrations from the deep Heart of God which we are all actually enveloped in, always”.

When she finds herself becoming effortful or striving, Jeanine experiments with pausing, sensing into her body and softening, especially noticing when she finds herself getting “scrambled, braced, or overwhelmed.” The Gurdjieff teachings coupled with the Benedictine template of ‘Ora et Labora’ woven together in Cynthia’s teachings create a framework for daily living. “When those mindful and attentional practices can be engaged within the field of Centering Prayer, as ‘surrendered attention’, the grist for the mill of transformation is endless. For me, 3-Centered Knowing, the Welcome Practice, my own adapted version of the Four Voices inquiry, and the Law of Three are guideposts in my daily work, both personally and with people I am working with. All these invite me to return (and thank the part of me noticing!) to my body, to allow the pain, the resistance without judgment, to notice and be with what is, within a larger field.”

Thank you, Jeanine, for the example you are, as an excellent model of the Wisdom way of knowing.

Jeanine Siler-Jones  LCSW  is  a therapist and conducts Enneagram workshops and groups.

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In Advent 2018, Jeanine collaborated with Rebecca Parker and Laura Copeland to create Beyond the Basics, Our Hearts in Advent: A Southeast Arising Wisdom School, in Sewanee Tennessee. You may read about the retreat and their creative process together in Breaking Ground by clicking on the link above.