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 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 private practice therapist. 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, and leads contemplative retreats and groups on her own as well as with Ruth Hill. She along with Marcella Kraybill-Greggo and Heather Ruce are currently collaborating in Deepening in the Practices of Wisdom groups. This is a once-a-month gathering of three local groups (one in NC, PA, and CA) who practice centering prayer, lectio divina, chant, movement, wisdom teaching and reflection. In between they read the Gospel of Thomas, four logia/week, and post reflections on a closed Facebook page. The deepening, interconnectedness, sharing resources as well as ideas, struggles, joys are the “power of post holders supporting one another.”
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 forever fascinated with the surface and deep, the narrow and wide ways we engage our lives. Language gets tricky and (my!) binary mind wants to grab hold and define. Then, I’m back to paradox, open awareness, and the practices: Centering Prayer, ‘where are my feet?’ Noticing sensation; softening the emotional identification and letting go of thoughts; inviting the welcoming of the both/and and 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 work as a therapist 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 to what is actually happening. The Wisdom work grounds me in a deeper and wider knowing that includes both the psychological/development and the spiritual aspects of people.”
“Don’t strain yourself in the presence of Mystery” ~ Cynthia
When she finds herself becoming effortful or striving, Jeanine returns to “some version of delight and play.” She experiments with saying Yes, and other practices when she finds herself getting “scrambled, braced, or overwhelmed.” The Gurdjieff teachings articulated by Cynthia such as conscious work, inner tasks, automatic actions, emotions, and thoughts are what she has been particularly drawn to. “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.”
“All spiritual practice is about strengthening the nervous system” ~ Cynthia
This quote powerfully landed in Jeanine. Practices of full body prostrations, body prayers, inner tasks, finding both her feet and her breath, letting go of thoughts, noticing her centers, sensations essential for “cultivating that kind of presence and openness,” being “open to the subtle vibrations of God.” All these help ground her and help her guide others as well.
Chanting has become important leading her to know “the deeper Heart and Wholeness we are all actually enveloped in, always.”
Thank you, Jeanine, for the example you are, as an excellent model of the Wisdom way of knowing.
More About Jeanine Siler-Jones
Jeanine Siler-Jones LCSW is a therapist and conducts Enneagram workshops and groups.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.