David Gaia Kano brief history

Last updated April, 2017.

The following are the highlights of my life to date, as seem important to who I’ve become.

I was born in 1957 to Cyrus and Dorothy Kano in Boston, MA. My grandfather was Hiram H. Kano, an Episcopal priest and farmer that worked to help his fellow Japanese immigrants establish their American homes and communities of faith.

I started practicing Transcendental Meditation in 1972 and have been meditating twice a day ever since. In 2010 I switched to heart coherence meditation using the EMWave bio-feedback device. After a couple of years, I continued to use the techniques that keep my heart coherent, but I no longer use the device.

I was raised Episcopalian but was never confirmed, as I was agnostic until I found a definition of God I was comfortable with, sitting in silent worship in Cambridge Quaker meeting at the age of 27.  Since then I’ve been a member of a few Unitarian Universalist churches, until I started sitting at the Upper Valley Zen Center in White River Junction. When I left the UU, it was in search of a community that worshiped God / Christ, but none of the local churches I visited felt right. The emphasis I found was on a separate, transcendent God. I found myself constantly re-interpreting and translating the presented material in an attempt to make it compatible with my belief in God as unified with All. It the end, it felt better to sit in silence with the Buddhists! After a few years at the Zen center, I discovered the Heart of the Valley Mindfulness Practice Center group, now in Norwich, which  follows the tradition of Plumb Village and Tiche Nhat Han. I’ve been practicing with them ever since. For a time I also enjoyed practice with Christian contemplatives at the First Congregational Church in Thetford, VT which has a centering prayer group Thursday nights at 5:30pm. Their theology is similar to mine and the felt presence of God during our sessions is strong! 

I’m living too far away from the upper valley to attend any of the above groups these days, so my friend Kyle and I have started a new meditation group in South Royalton. We meet at the BALE on the commons space every Thursday at 6:45pm, right after his Yin Yoga class which starts at 5:30pm. We meditate for 30 minutes most weeks, with practice extended to 1 hour on the last Thursday of the month, when we practice walking meditation between two periods of sitting.

I married Cathy Munsey in 1991. We have two beautiful girls, Anna & Rose Munsey-Kano, born 1993 and 1996. We separated (my request) in 2001 and divorced in 2006. We raised them in 50/50 shared custody through their high school years. Anna has graduated from Agnes Scott College with a degree in woman’s studies with a minor in film, and Rose is at Ithaca College studying English.

In 1989 I broke and dislocated my neck in a mountain bike accident. As I was flown by helicopter to the larger regional hospital, I made a promise to God that I would spend the rest of my life giving my love to others. I noted that it would be easier to do that, if I could walk and move my arms! After my surgery, I quit my job as a computer programmer to search for ways I could give back to the world, which had made my life so abundant. I’ve continued that search since, bouncing in and out of the programming profession as needed. For myself, I’d rather work at what I love and live on the proceeds, however meager or abundant. This priority was incompatible with my married life, and with the related financial responsibilities continuing after our divorce. But now that my girls are grown and mostly off on their own, I can return to that priority. So I have once again left full time professional computer work. This time I’m calling it “retiring” though I intend to continue to work in other areas for a good long time to come!

I love taking care of kids of all ages. I learn so much about innocent bliss, curiosity and wonder from babies and toddlers! So I’ve done some work in child care and a lot more in substitute teaching. Lately I’ve been a program leader for the “One Planet” after school programs at some local schools, first teaching Cooperative Sports and games and now a class I like to call “Shameless Dance Collective.” Winter of 2016-17 I got to teach downhill skiing to 3-7 year olds at the Queche Club, which I really loved!  I hope to return to that work in the coming winters, even though I feel kind of guilty participating in a sport that uses so much electricity, fossil fuel and other resources in this age of global climate change!

In 2006, I finally admitted that I have bi-polar disorder. I’d had occasional evidence of this, large and small, but never wanted to allow the label to stick! I believe that my regular meditation practice has been largely responsible for keeping the condition manageable, without medications. I’ve only had a couple of significant manic periods: in 1998 when I broke my neck, 1996 when I created / promoted Cooperative Sports and 2006 when I left my job at Dartmouth College. I’ve had a few short (2 week) periods of depression, mostly since 2006. Though I was probably suffering from depression in 2001 when I separated from Cathy. 2012 was a good year, with no significant periods of depression nor mania. I thank heart coherence meditation for that!

I’m writing a book, to be titled “Faith to Practice.” The idea first came to me in the context of a short presentation I made at the Thursday noon prayer service at Dartmouth College. I’ve written some songs, and hope to do more. I’ve also published a collection of 40 or so poems I’ve written over the years, available from this site. I hope they will be inspirational for (future) spiritual seekers like me! I continue to enjoy writing poetry inspired by spiritual insight.

In 2014 I started to look for an intentional community in which to live. I went to the Twin Oaks Communities Conference and met a woman from Koinonia Farm that gave an impressive presentation. I to make a long story short, I ended up interning there for a year in 2015. I’m very glad for my experience there, which also led to an understanding that it was not where I wanted to live long term. Too hot in the summer, for one thing!

Since May 2016 I’ve been living on 13 acres of land in South Royalton, VT, owned by my friend Karl.  We are starting a new intentional community here, called “Small Foot.” I lived in my tent for the first 7 months or so.  I set up camp life by building a tent platform, outdoor kitchen, fire pit and humanuer composting toilet. I worked at the Heartwood Fable Farm in Barnard for a while. In August, I started building my tiny house, in which I’m now living. It’s not done yet as of this writing, but it keeps me warm and dry! We will be living and growing our food using permaculture principals.

In addition to twice daily silent meditation, my other spiritual practices as of this writing, (many of which I started on or near my birthday in March) are: 

  • 1996 I started practice of “non-judgment” as inspired by the book “7 Spiritual Laws of Success” by Depak Chopra, which I  now call “radical acceptance” of everything.
  • 2006 I quit drinking in experiment in total sobriety for spiritual growth and mindfulness. Now I’m quite sure this is for life.
  • 2012 I started an experiment in celibacy, mainly because I knew I’d be moving soon,but also to see how it effected my practice. 
  • 2015 I was given the book “I Am That,” talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj by my sister Susan for my birthday. Soon thereafter I started to practice holding the sense, “I am” as he recommends, in addition to my previous intention (which started gradually) of continuous mindfulness practice.
  • 2016 I cut back on watching movies or TV shows (commercial free on Netflix) to every other night, at the most. This has been a favorite way to relax when I’m tired, but so much of it serves to strengthen the ego!
  • 2017 I took a vow of celibacy. The experiment proved spiritually fruitful, so it just made sense. Contemplative life is just easier without the temptation to form attached relationships, and sexual relationships tend towards strong attachment! This is also consistent my practice of releasing all fears and desires, as recommended by Nisargardatta. I can’t say exactly when I started that practice, but it was sometime in 2015 or 2016.
  • 2017 I started to say prayers (out loud) of affirmation of my practice techniques and intentions before and after I do my twice daily silent meditation.
  • 2017 I started going to “Ecstatic Dance” practice at the Strong House Spa in Quechee, most every Sunday night.

As of this update, I still have not finished my book. I hope to find time to work on it now that I’ve found my long term home, in a place with long winters that are conducive to staying indoors when there is not much gardening or other permaculture work to do!

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