Sunday, November 10, 2013

Zen and mindfulness during trying times - new book

My good friend, Ji Hyang Padma, who is the director of Spirituality and Education Programs and the Buddhist chaplan at Wellesley University, is releasing her new book today.

The book, Living the Season: Zen Practice for Transformative Times, contains teachings from Zen and other traditions to assist at times of  in transition.  I got a copy recently and found that it’s a great resource when you’re going through trying times.

As entrepreneurs, we often find ourselves going through trying times and transitions - ranging from times when a new product is a dud, a key employee unexpectedly quits, the company loses an important customer, an investor loses confidence, and on and on through the landmarks of the entrepreneurial journey.

I think her book and the teachings it gives about mindfulness, energy, and getting back to nature can be very helpful during these times.  Just as nature has its transitions and seasons, so do our personal and professional lives and we can’t fight this.

Ji Hyang says about her new book:

“I was inspired to write the book by a growing sense that our world is going through great change. We can see this through ... environmental changes, as well as through political, technological and social changes. So I felt inspired to offer a dynamic, eclectic range of practices with which to navigate these rushing rivers, in a way that benefits ourselves and others. Our inner life, like the world around us, experiences natural rhythms and so this book is arranged according to the four seasons. It is my hope that through this book, readers rediscover the fullness of their inner resources, and touch a deeper wholeness."

You can find out more about the book at her website,, and the book is available at amazon

Writing this reminds me of an incident that happened when Ji Hyang invited me to co teach a course at Esalen with her, titled  Applied Zen: Creating the World Around Us.  As we drove down to Esalen, which is located on the Pacific Coast Highway between San Jose and Los Angeles, we noticed a group of cows grazing on some grassland to the west of our road.  It was on the ocean and had amazing views, and Ji Hyang quipped that those cows, sitting there grazing, had a million dollar view at their disposal, and all they were doing was eating the grass.  

As we laughed and joked about the "lucky cows" who had no idea how good they had it, it dawned on us that we were all like that.  Here we are in our lives, with so many beautiful things happening around us - from the miracle of birth and children growing up all around us, to the indescribable beauty of a sunset which we don't stop and appreciate.   Rather than being grateful for these things, we consume our minds with worry and fear and anxiety about our jobs, about our relationships, about making more money, and on and on.

It's perhaps a natural part of the human condition, but perhaps Ji Hyang's book can remind us that we are all "lucky cows" who forget how good we have it - with incredible beauty all around us and an infinite list of things to be grateful for, if we can only stop eating long enough to reflect and enjoy the view!

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