December 03, 2018
With “great joy,” Karen Summer is stepping fully and wholeheartedly into the role of VIMS Guiding Teacher, a position she and Peg Meyer shared during the past year.
Karen began meditating in 1994 with Tara Brach’s Insight Meditation group in Washington, D.C. She became an active member of VIMS as soon as she arrived in the Upper Valley in 2000. Two years later, she participated in the meetings that resulted in the founding of Valley Insight’s Advisory Board and our subsequent non-profit incorporation. She was a strongly committed and very active member and leader of the board until she stepped down in 2014. She has always viewed service on the board as a tangible way to live the Dharma and to nourish Sangha.
While serving the VIMS community, Karen has been deepening her own understanding and practice by attending three- and five-day study retreats at BCBS (26 courses since 2000) and many seven- to ten-day retreats at IMS. Her deeper and longer meditations include two month-long experiences, one at the Forest Refuge in Barre and one at Cloud Mountain. She also did two three-week retreats at her home, which, she notes, were the most challenging because she needed to balance the benefit of the mind becoming very quiet very quickly with the isolation of not being with other people.
In Karen’s professional life, she experienced the heart-stirring rewards of direct patient care while working as a nurse’s aide at the “old” Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital. Even as her subsequent hospital-based critical care nursing experience fades with time, she finds that every day she still uses the lessons learned from years of co-leading outpatient psychiatric groups.
She spent her final career years as an administrative assistant with the Tuck School of Business where she sharpened her already formidable organizational skills by helping students learn to apply business skills to nonprofit management, business ethics and environmental issues. Those skills serve her well in her work with VIMS.
The fruit of Karen’s practice has long been flowing out into our collective lives. She has often substituted for other VIMS teachers, and, several years ago, at the invitation of the teacher team, she began facilitating VIMS introductory courses. She is currently the guiding teacher for the VIMS weekly Monday sit.
Increasingly, Karen embodies the Dharma she so loves. We are fortunate to have this home-grown, respected, kind, well-loved and deeply loving teacher as our VIMS Guiding Teacher.