Narrative Summary Interview with Alice Kiesov by Emma Sudholt

Narrative Summary
Interview with Alice Kiesov by Emma Sudholt
I first met Alice at the Vietnamese Temple during a Saturday morning meditation session.
She told me that she had converted to Buddhism from Catholicism about a year ago and I
immediately knew that she was the person that I wanted to interview. We had our interview at a
coffee shop a different mediation session and she told me about her journey to her Buddhist
faith. She was raised in a Catholic home with her mother as a convert after she married Alice’s
father. After she moved to the Springfield area from New Mexico she began attending a Baptist
church. She never felt particularly attached to the Baptist Church and eventually stopped
attending in her twenties. She returned to the Catholic Church after her daughter was born.
However, a scandal in the church caused her to question her faith. She never found herself
particularly religious but she never doubted the presence of God. She said that she would find it
ridiculous that anyone could not believe in God. After that scandal, however, she stumbled
across Buddhism and changed her opinion about the existence of God.
Alice had always been interested in podcasts and came across Ajahn Brahm and his cure
of a depressed woman. This fascinated her and she listened to more of his podcasts and Youtube
videos. This slowly brought her to Buddhism. She struggled with her Christian faith and her
fascination with Buddhism, which is commonly seen as an atheistic religion. For a while she
tried to blend her belief of God with her love of Buddhism. Eventually, she stopped believing in
God and started to focus on her purpose in life.
Her friends and family did not react well to her conversion. She said that most of her
loved ones are generally worried that she converted. Many do not feel comfortable to talk to her
Missouri State University
Spring 2015
Religious Lives of Ozark Women
about it. According to Alice, Buddhism is often stereotyped negatively because of the idea of
rebirth, so most are slightly appalled when she says that she is Buddhist. However, one person
that she can talk to her is her brother. He had been supportive of her interest in Buddhism from
the beginning. He could see how Buddhism changed her life and how happy it made her.
Alice strongly believes that Buddhism has changed her life for the better. When asked on
how her conversion has impacted her life, she said that she noticed that her anxiety levels are
much lower. She credits this to her daily mediation sessions in the morning. She says that she
approaches situations in a calmer matter, has more patience in work, and is not worried about
unforeseen circumstances. She also says that she no longer constantly cares about what others
think of her. She no longer fears rejection from others and takes life in stride. She used to be an
introverted person. Now, she is genuinely happy to see others and spend time with her friends
and family. All of these changes she credits to Buddhism, specifically meditation.
Alice went into detail on her meditation practice. She has a specific cushion that she sits
on every morning for her meditation. She uses an object to focus and relax on, such as her
breath. She emphasizes the importance of acknowledging any feeling or thought that may occur
during meditation. For example, when you are angry, it is important to understand your body’s
reaction, such as muscle tension. This acknowledgement helps you release the emotion quicker.
That way, that emotion cannot sweep you away and continue a cycle of anger.
Alice’s story was truly amazing. Her story is very unique to the Ozarks area and unlike
any story I have ever heard. Her courage to completely change religions and face any adversity
that could have come her way is inspirational. I hope that others will be encouraged by her story
as well in order to realize who they truly are.
Missouri State University
Spring 2015
Religious Lives of Ozark Women