About Jennifer Byrd Rubacky
Jennifer is a conscious relationship coach and spiritual therapist. She is also a wife, mom, writer and lover of sacred poetry. She offers spiritual support, guidance and wisdom based on her own direct realization of non-separation and the abiding mystery in which we are all arising. She is not affiliated with any religious organization and welcomes all religions and paths into her company as she points to the heart of who we really are. Her greatest joy is helping others to use their life challenges and difficulties into awakening to their true nature. Jennifer has practiced in a number of spiritual traditions, such as Advaita, and other non-dual teachings, as well as devotional and tantric traditions of India. She studied Transpersonal and Somatic Psychology from John F. Kennedy University and is a certified practitioner in holistic health, mindfulness, meditation and reiki.
In addition, Jennifer has written and published several spiritual articles in the Elephant Journal and is currently writing a book to help support the transformation of human consciousness into a more heart opened, connected and awakened humanity. She is a proud mother of a young daughter and lives with her husband, Chris in Trumansburg, NY.
Jennifer’s awakening journey…
The seed of awakening was planted deep within my heart after experiencing a tragic event that took place when I was only eight years old. In 1980 my father suffered a massive heart attack that completely disabled him for life. He was only thirty-three years old when it happened. He lost oxygen for seventeen minutes on and off. Extensive brain damage prevented him from regaining the ability to speak, walk or function normally ever again. It left him in a vegetative state and he was hospitalized for close to twenty-five years until he died in 2004.
My dad had always made me feel so safe as a child, and I naturally relied on his presence to give me this safety and comfort. After this happened, it became clear to me at this early age that events in the outer world were not fundamentally reliable as a source of happiness, stability or comfort. I couldn’t trust life, yet this was impossible for me to digest fully at such a young age. So, I shut down around it and went on in hopes to one day find the safety that I experienced with my dad. I kept looking for it in relationships with men, in friendships, in food, exercise, dieting and finally I sought to find it in spiritual enlightenment.
The first time I can remember my consciousness expand was when I was in college. I was walking home from class one day and all of the sudden my consciousness entered into a state of absolute vastness. In this place my sense of self was obliterated and I could not define anything. Definitions held no meaning to me. There was no ground to stand on or any reference point for what was happening. My mind looked to grasp onto anything familiar as I was taken over by stark raving fear. These episodes continued throughout my senior year in college and all I could think about was death and annihilation. I felt trapped by these thoughts and desperately wanted answers. But when I would describe what I was experiencing to others, I always got back a blank look from them. No one seemed to be able to identify with my experience of the vastness. This left me feeling extremely isolated and like there was something terribly wrong with me. I can remember making a conscious decision to do everything I could to distract myself from this and go on living like everyone else. However, that didn’t really work.
Throughout my twenties I found myself contemplating God a lot and reading books about the after-life. I had grown up Catholic, believing in Jesus but never felt connected to religion or God. After my dad’s heart attack, my mom experienced what is known to many as Shaktipat (an act of grace given by the Divine). At some point during her darkest moments, she found herself on her knees praying to Mother Mary asking for her help to lead her to Christ. She felt there was nowhere left to turn and the question “why did this happen” overtook her being. It was right then in the midst of her deepest suffering and vulnerability that she awakened to Christ’s presence, and had a glimpse of her true nature. She said that this left her with a knowing that no matter what happened with my dad, she knew it was going to be okay, that it really was all okay because she felt this energetic presence that was “not from this world”, as she called it. This gave me hope that there was some kind of God, but it didn’t take away the profound fear of death and annihilation that I continued to experience on and off throughout my twenties.
It was not until my thirtieth birthday that I felt like my prayers were finally answered. I was living in Northern California at the time and things appeared to be better on the surface. I had been able to distract myself enough from the existential angst and was living what most would call a successful life. I was married, had a high paying job and had just achieved my weight loss goal and ran a marathon. It was during this time period that I met my former spiritual teacher. I had bonded deeply with a co-worker from my job (who years later became my husband and deepest spiritual comrade) and really began to open up about how painful my life really was underneath it all. He let me know about Satya’Ama Adoyta, his spiritual teacher that he had been studying with and recommended I see her.
This meeting was one of the most significant events in my life and the second catalyst in awakening me to my deepest self. As I began to share my experiences of the vastness with her I felt a deep sense of relief. My teacher was the first person that was able to explain what was happening to me in such a way that made perfect sense. There wasn’t anything fundamentally wrong with me; the vastness was actually my true nature making itself known to me.
Driven by my relentless desire to realize this truth, I spent the next decade living in an ashram (a spiritual community) in Northern California, immersed in a spiritual practice given by my teacher that included Vedantic meditation, Self-enquiry, tantric teachings of India and yogic disciplines that I practiced in all areas of my life.
I dove deep into my enquiry around existence and fell apart completely. I experienced the dark night of the soul and felt a sense of homelessness that I could not escape. I felt like I was in a black hole and would never come out of it. My teacher’s wisdom and understanding around surrender and letting go was so invaluable to me, though she couldn’t do it for me. She couldn’t open my eyes. I had to stay and keep staying, and showing up as best as I could to hear the teachings. And then after about a two-year period of living in this horrific state something shifted. I could tacitly feel that God or Consciousness Itself was real…not just a belief to comfort me. This experience put me on the map of reality and gave me the courage to keep exploring.
My teacher also helped me make the connection that when we cut off from pain in life, we are not able to access the love that is our very nature. This helped me begin to face the profound sense of loss and pain I felt around my relationship with my Dad. The more I got in touch with this pain, the more connected I began to feel to life, myself and all my relationships. My teacher’s unique way of communicating the teaching of transcendence and a more relaxed participation in life spoke deeply to me; I never thought there would come a time that I would want to move on from her or her teaching work.
However, in the early summer of 2009 everything changed. My awareness brought to light an unhealthy dependency that I had with my teacher and I was naturally led to move on from her work and the community. It became clear that even though I had experienced a deep shift in my consciousness, I was still looking to my teacher as the ultimate authority figure in my life and I needed to explore spiritual life and awakening on my own terms. I consider this time period as being fundamental to the realization of my own true nature.
In the years that followed, this honesty with myself just continued. There were some excruciating dark moments, but my journey had already shown me that discomfort and uncertainty were the portals into greater freedom, so it was natural to keep trusting in the unknown territory. There were a few spiritual teachers (Saniel Bonder and Linda Groves-Bonder of Waking Down in Mutuality) that I encountered after leaving my teacher that were very helpful. I was encouraged to trust my heart and embrace the parts of myself that I had been denying so that I could feel “whole”. The more I relaxed into my present experience and just let myself be, I didn’t need to push anything away or look to find anything. I sat with open eyes, as the mess, chaos and darkness itself and was left with a simple knowing – that I was completely whole within and as the brokenness. I immediately felt a relaxation occur deep within my being – the seeking to be something other than what I simply am subsided and has never returned. Even while I experience resistance, anger, self-consciousness and all the distasteful waves of being, I no longer feel like they shouldn’t be happening on a fundamental level. I no longer experience myself separate from them, nor am I trying to get rid of them as a means to define myself in any way. This has given me a deep trust in the blood and guts of life and naturally allows for the deepening to occur with more grace and ease.
Today, I support others who are called to awaken into their true nature. I view my relationship, being a parent, my work in the world and all aspects of daily life as the ultimate invitation and catalyst to see the Divine in every moment and thus deepen into Love. My greatest joy is helping others to use their life challenges and difficulties as a portal into remembering the deepest part of who they are.
Please note that while Jennifer trained in somatic and transpersonal psychology, the work she offers is not psychotherapy.
About Chris Rubacky
I am a long time student of meditation, relationships, inter-personal awareness, “emotional and spiritual growth,” and healthier, open, vulnerable communication.
In my mid-twenties to early thirties, I made my living as a trainer in mediation, conflict resolution, collaborative negotiations, “anger management,” and emotional literacy, which I have taught in both jails and schools nationwide. At that time in my life, I was undoubtedly teaching what I most needed to learn. After eventually hitting an internal wall with these techniques and with what had become an entirely fruitless tenth year in ongoing psychotherapy, I began studying with an awakened spiritual teacher, Satya’Ama Adyota. Satya’Ama’s teaching were radical, demanding, and fundamentally helpful. They were as challenging to abide by as they were profound and life-affirming. I lived in the spiritual community that surrounded her in Northern California for ten years. I became deeply involved in the life of our spiritual community (Sangha) while living in service to Satya’Ama, the community and our Ashram.
Gradually, I came to understand that my desire to study “self-improvement” and inter-personal awareness came not only from a deep sense of suffering, but from fundamental misunderstanding. This intense suffering, which first reared it’s head a few years after my father died unexpectedly of a heart attack during my sophomore year in high school, also arose from the error of seeing myself exclusively as a separate being. Satya’Ama’s teaching was a well-spring of essential life principles for happiness. I was steered toward fundamental practices like Tai Chi, breathing exercises and relaxing tension as much as possible, even as I participated in the ordinary or even extreme demands life offers.
Although I can now look back upon periods of great suffering and hard-earned life lessons with great compassion, I was also greatly served by being utterly intense about placing personal understanding as my highest priority in life, come what may. Despite this orientation, and perhaps because Satya’Ama helped me see the inherent futility of any and all strategic efforts to improve or even fix myself once and for all, I turned my primary enquiry to meditation. For me, meditation meant both the specific act of sitting down for thirty to sixty minutes each day, as well as the greater call to stillness in all aspects of ordinary life: work, sex, relationships, finances, even eating.
I left the Sangha of Satya’Ama in late 2009 to explore personal awakening and spiritual life on my own terms. Since that time, my wife Jennifer’s immense wisdom and the gift of raising my amazing daughter Gabriella with Jennifer have undoubtedly been my greatest teachers. The teachings of both Eckhart Tolle, Saniel and Linda Bonder, and Da Free John/Adi Da Samraj have also been deeply helpful.
Although I now offer my mediation services to people struggling in ordinary and problematic disputes, a problem-solving orientation to life is no longer the fundamental stance that motivates me.
My deepest call is to simply live as openly and honestly as possible as an inseparable part of life’s unending mystery, and to help people embody deeper levels of personal understanding, not simply for our own personal benefit, but held in the undeniable and inherently connected balance of the Great Mystery.
My wife Jennifer and I have been working with couples together since 2014. Our intention has been to help men and women who struggle particularly with intimacy and relationship, as well as personal vulnerability, self-understanding, or overwhelming feelings of anger, grief, inadequacy and loss. Our intention is to help enquiring adults live a life of greater happiness, even profound joy and bliss.
In my spare time, I enjoy hiking the gorges of Ithaca, New York, where I live with my incredible wife Jennifer and amazingly fun and spunky daughter, Gabriella.