I have to be honest. When I got the assignment to interview someone named Janet StraightArrow about her class called “Be Your Own Guru” at Jolie in Madison, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t wearing a Navajo blanket and a 10 gallon hat, but almost as soon as we began to talk I could see she’s kind of a guru in mom’s clothing. At 65, she could be mistaken for someone 10 or 20 year her junior, with a kind face and an easy laugh. A New Jersey native and a Madison resident and yes, a mom. Someone you can talk to.
StraightArrow (she legally changed her surname to reflect her basic demeanor) is teaching an ongoing twice monthly class — or circle, as it is described on Jolie’s website — intended to help students learn how to master their spirituality in every day life.
“I’ve developed a neutral practice that I’ve spent years bringing together,” said StraightArrow. “This work is for everyday people so they can very comfortably live in themselves and feel good about it.”
Every other week students can expect a meditation at the beginning of the class and then begin to explore a particular focus. Last week’s was Entering the Gates of the Inner Guru. StraightArrow teaches basic practices so that her students can get to their center and remain there. To quote from the class description: Each class offers empowering teachings, meditations and practices to move you along your unique journey in a simple and clear way which easily integrates into your life.
Her expertise comes from what she describes as a 50 year journey which began as a way to heal herself. As a child, she suffered from frequent ailments like bronchitis, pneumonia and other symptoms including pain in her body. A doctor told her that would mean that she wouldn’t live as long as her then-dying father. Her father was 43 at the time.
“You know what?” said StraightArrow. “That’s the best thing he could have said. It woke me up.”
She then began to find away to heal herself. Along the way, she earned degrees in psychology and nutrition, had a successful career in real estate, and studied spiritual traditions around the world. She has been working with people and teaching over the years. StraightArrow met Julia Erickson from Jolie last year, but it wasn’t quite time to start teaching there. Then, something changed.
“I was meditating and I saw myself teaching advanced spirituality on Main Street in Madison,” said StraightArrow, and two months later she got the official invitation.
StraightArrow describes this kind of ‘sight’ as something we all have the potential to find in ourselves.
“I would call that a knowing. A lot of people know before it happens. This is normal. This is what I’m teaching people. What’s normal. I’m very grounded. I’m not weird.”
She’s really not.