Joseph Garcia, PsyD
Gassho Rei (palms together and bowing)!
I began my spiritual practice in 1994. During this time I received a copy of the Tao Te Ching, the quintessential Taoist text of early Chinese philosophy. This tiny book of 81 verses opened my eyes to a different way of viewing the world, a deeply spiritual and yet logical perspective on being. After this I began to study the New Testament and the teachings of Buddha. A commonality that I noticed in all of these ancient teachers was that of renunciation through sitting in meditation in order to make contact with the Self (Taoism and Buddhism), Nature (shamanism), and/or God (Christianity).
During my doctoral work my dissertation focused on the effects of training in Loving Kindness Meditation. This research peeked my interest in Buddhism. In 2013 I reached out to the Savannah Zen Center and realized that Soto Zen was my home. On May 29th, 2016 I was lay ordained by Un Shin Cindy Beach, Head Priest at the Savannah Zen Center, and Taiun Michael Elliston, Abbot of the Atlanta Soto Zen Center, her previous Teacher. I now am under the studentship of Taitaku Josho Pat Phelan, Roshi, Abbess of the Chapel Hill Zen Center.
While continuing my personal practice within the lineage of Soto Zen (Shunryu Suzuki Roshi/San Francisco Zen Center) I obtained a set of zafus and zabutons (meditation cushions) and began instructing secular meditation groups at Several University Counseling centers. I am currently establishing a private psychology practice in Williamsburg, VA and as a part of my service to the community will be offering secular meditation (mindfulness) training as well as the more monastic form of Soto Zen that continues to be transmitted to me by my Teachers at the Chapel Hill Zen Center.