Jennie Isbell Shinn, M.Div., LMT
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
-- Anne Lamott, saying it better than I ever could.
This is me.
This is me.
Short snappy bio:
Jennie Isbell Shinn, M.A., M.Div., has been in private practice as a spiritual director since 2007. She has more than two decades of experience in non-profits as an employee, board member, volunteer, and consultant. While in seminary, during a discernment exercise in class, a friend noted, “You’re always talking about Jesus, but you’re really a lot more like Paul!” And so began her long, discerning path of seeking the balance between gifts for spiritual care and gifts for administration. Along the way, she has worked (part time) as a massage therapist (since 2001), a certified yoga therapist working with fibromyalgia patients, a director of outreach for a seminary, a cat sitter, a manager of advancement services (for a women’s college), a writer, and a yoga mat cleaner. She became a mother for the first time in her early 40s, and currently lives and works on an island off the coast of Massachusetts with her partner and their child. She is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and is a bit obsessed with the implications of Incarnation. (Bless the seminary professor who said to her, "That's okay, so is God.")
Longer, less snappy but still true bio:
I'll be honest, the pandemic and COVID-19 have upset my applecart. I had to rewrite my bio, and I'm still re-writing my work life. For the last two decades, I have worked with the unwavering goal of helping people be fully alive and joyful in their bodies and in their lives. Much of this has been as a massage therapist (since 2001), spiritual director (2007) and educator (a long time in a lot of contexts, from massage school to seminary to community college to community centers and libraries!).
At this time, I am not seeing massage clients. In recent years, my massage practice had shifted to focus on oncology clients and caregivers. Bodywork is still an important part of who I am, as is my long study of yoga, particularly of the therapetic applications of yoga for medical problems. But in these COVID-19 days, I'm mostly focusing on Spiritual Care, Dreamwork, and Online Programs.
Spiritual direction is (regretably) a bit of a secret. I'm surprised by how many people are not familiar with it's amazing and transformative healing power. Imagine having someone skilled in soul care, listen deeply to you and with you for an hour once a month. It's not therapy. It's not coaching. It's more like a longterm relationship with someone totally invested in listening to your soul's longings and making sure you hear them too. There are many different ways and flavors of spiritual direction. I offer no-cost test drives to folks who think I might be a fit. I've been seeing clients in this work since 2007. Read more about this opportunity here. I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), though I have spent a lot of time with friends in the United Church of Christ. I have been trained in individual- and group spiritual direction, and also in Christian spirituality. These disciplines inform who I am and and keep me grounded, and often bring something of particular use to my clients. I have written a couple of books, I lead retreats and workshops, and offer individual spiritual direction to people of all belief systems.
I started recording and illustrating my dreams in 1995. I have no idea why I started writing them down with such devotion, but in 1998, I met a woman who taught me about the Soul level importance of dreams in the Jungian approach to individuation (holistic thriving and integration), and I was hooked. My spiritual direction training program emphasized Jungian dreamwork, and I've been influenced by a number of writers and teachers over the 23 years I've been taking dreams seriously. Among them, Jeremy Taylor, Robert Hoss, Robert Moss, Bob Haden and others on staff at the Haden Institute, as well as the many, many (mostly female) people who bring their dreams to community circles and dining room tables I am priviledged to have a seat at. I have led dream groups in faith communities, living rooms and public libraries, and now in Zoom Rooms! In workshops, I teach about working with symbols, discovering narrative threads, seeding dreams, improving recall and re-entering dreams while awake. In private sessions, we tend to use one or two exercises to work with a specific dream.
My Bodywork Practice (because some day, you know, post-COVID...)
I started massage school in a different world, in the year 2000, and graduated in December 2001. The events of September 11, 2001 changed my path. I thought I would have a happy career working with pregnant women (which I also do), but after the 2001 terrorist attacks, I was awakened to the effects of stress and trauma in the body, and the pervasiveness of trauma in many people coming from many sources. Sometimes it manifests after sustained and chronic stress. Sometimes it comes from a single or repeated traumatic event. I work with clients on improving their daily lives-- through postural assessment and modifications, stretching and strengthening, learning to breathe deeply and efficiently, and by using touch to address places of pain and chronic tension. Because of how the stress response cycle works in the nervous system, many psychological and spiritual hurts can be helped by bodywork. And, Rome wasn't build in a day, so I recommend on-going bodywork sessions. I see bodywork as an act of spiritual care, but my clients don't have to. It was a desire to reclaim and proclaim the essential goodness of the body that led me to seminary, and that has led to so much more!
My preparation for my work in spiritual care and embodiment includes some formal training in a variety of disciplines. In terms of traditional higher education, I have a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in humanities from Hollins University (2000), and a master’s of divinity from Earlham School of Religion (a Quaker seminary) (2007).
Beyond the traditional classroom, I am trained as a spiritual director by the Haden Institute in North Carolina (2006-2008). I am a nationally board certified massage therapist (NCBTMB since 2002), and Reiki master teacher/practitioner (since 2001). I have been practicing Thai bodywork since 2006. In recent years I have studied Myofascial Release with John Barnes and Oncology Massage with Tracy Walton. I am a member of the Society for Oncology Massage.
I have 230 hour yoga teacher certificate from Asheville Yoga Center in North Carolina, a 500 hour certificate from Heartland Yoga Therapy in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a 1,000 hour certificate from Integrative Yoga Therapy as a professional yoga therapist. I am a certified yoga therapist with the International Association of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT) and also an "RYT500" Registered Yoga Teacher through the Yoga Alliance. I have completed several “teacher untrainings” and other workshops with the amazing Angela Farmer, whose teaching and philosophy touch the center of my own healing and teaching.
In addition to a decade of self-led learning and lots of workshops in herbalism, I completed a two-year apprenticeship at Blazing Star Herbal School, and spent a third year deepening my clincal herbal education at Commonwealth Center of Holistic Herbalism in Brookline, MA. I continue to find a lot of joy in participating in a Clinical Herbalist Roundtable with two great mentors and a lot of awesome peers, every chance I get.