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Finding Paradise in Gardens & Nature

From the Show: Naturally Savvy
Summary: Learn the very real connection between nature, spirituality and living peacefully.
Air Date: 8/12/14
Duration: 10
Host: Andrea Donsky, RHN and Lisa Davis, MPH
Guest Bio: Karen Maezen Miller
Karen Maezen Miller is a wife and mother, as well as a Zen Buddhist priest at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles.

She writes about spirituality in everyday life. Her latest book is Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden (New World Library, May 2014). She also wrote Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life (New World Library, 2010) and Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood (Shambhala, 2006) Her writing is also included in several anthologies; the most recent are Buddha's Daughters (Shambhala 2014), The Best Buddhist Writing 2013 (Shambhala, 2013), The Mindful Way Through Pregnancy (Shambhala, 2012), The Mindfulness Revolution (Shambhala, 2011) and Right Here With You: Bringing Mindful Awareness into Our Relationships (Shambhala, 2011).

Her middle name is pronounced "May-zen" and it is her dharma name, or Buddhist name. She's happy to speak to community groups, schools, churches or conferences – any group that wants to be transported to a realm of calm assurance and infinite patience in 90 minutes or less. She also leads retreats around the country. For information about where she's speaking, or upcoming classes, visit her website at www.karenmaezenmiller.com.

Karen and her husband and daughter and live in Sierra Madre, California, where they have a century-old Japanese garden in their backyard.
  • Book Title: Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden
  • Guest Twitter Account: @kmaezenmiller
Finding Paradise in Gardens & Nature
Can you imagine living where a 100-year old Japanese garden exists in your backyard? Wouldn't that be beautiful?

That's what Zen Buddhist Priest, Karen Maezen Miller, gets to wake up to every day. In this segment, she joins Andrea to share the very real connection between nature, spirituality and living peacefully.

What can your garden teach you?

Try to think of it this way: the natural world you live in is the natural expression of wisdom, truth, time, patience, love, sorrow, loss, stillness, and change.

Many people live most of their lives as if they're disconnected, isolated and removed from the natural world. Even if you're just on the other side of a window, you may still see what's on the other side as "outside."

You don't have to live next to a grandiose garden, either. Even a small plant or group of plants can provide lessons.

How does Zen fit into this natural way of living and learning?

Zen is a 2500-year-old tradition, having its roots in India. In the simplest terms, it is the practice of seated meditation. The goal is to go beyond a limited view of yourself and live selflessly and in service.

What if you struggle to find a time and place to meditate?

When you think of meditation, there is often a misconception that the "external" world needs fixing or correcting. But in reality, the disturbances are all internal. Instead of rejecting and criticizing what's occurring around you, focus on your reactions and responses to those things. You have tremendous power over what you give and share.

Also, you absolutely must find the time and the place; even if it's a few minutes before you get out of bed or fall asleep. You need to make the time in order to center yourself.

Finally, it's important to be honest with yourself as to how you're spending your time... as well as with what you're eating, drinking and filling your body. Technology addiction can be a very real threat.

Join Karen as she shares more about her role as a Zen Buddhist Priest, as well as ways you can find calm and peace in nature.