Joan Tollifson is a writer and lifelong explorer of what is. Her background includes Buddhism, Advaita, nontraditional meditative inquiry, radical nonduality, martial arts, somatic work, addiction recovery, political activism, visual arts, and a devotion to both boundless presence and the beauty of the ordinary. Joan has held public and private meetings as well as occasional workshops and retreats since 1996. Her bare-bones approach is open, direct, down-to-earth, and rooted in the ever-fresh aliveness here and now. She encourages people to question the stories, beliefs and misunderstandings that create so much of our human suffering and confusion, especially our tendency to mistake conceptual maps for the living actuality. Rather than relying on outside authorities, traditional ideas, acquired knowledge or beliefs, this is about the immediacy of present experiencing, just as it is. Joan has been with many different teachers and non-teachers and was especially close with Toni Packer, a former Zen teacher who left that tradition behind to work in a simpler and more open way, but Joan does not identify with or represent any particular tradition or way of working. Joan describes her writings and meetings with people as explorations, “like a child exploring its toes or a lover exploring the beloved,” and she adds, “There is no end to such explorations, all of which are forms of play.” Joan is the author of Bare-Bones Meditation: Waking Up from the Story of My Life (1996), Awake in the Heartland: The Ecstasy of What Is (2003), Painting the Sidewalk with Water: Talks and Dialogs about Nonduality (2010), Nothing to Grasp (2012), and Death: The End of Self-Improvement (2019). Joan has lived in northern California, rural New York state, and Chicago, and currently resides in southern Oregon.
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