Ji Hyang Padma’s First Book Living the Season Blends Teachings with Practical Exercises

November 21, 2013

As New England’s world-renowned fall changes into winter, one of Wellesley’s chaplains has been pondering the spiritual significance of changing seasons. Living the Season: Zen Practice for Transformative Times by Buddist advisor and alumna Ji Hyang Padma ’91 was published in October by Quest Books.

Padma is a member of the Religious Life team who advises students, leads meditations throughout the week, and participates in the vibrant interfaith community on campus. She has done intensive Zen training and teaching in Asia and North America, including at the Omega Institute, Esalen Institute, UCLA, Harvard University, Boston University, and Boston College.

Living the Season is her first full-length book, incorporating Padma’s teachings with practical exercises designed to help readers, from those new to Zen practices to more advanced learners, gain mental clarity and wholeness.

“I was inspired to write the book by a growing sense that our world is going through great change,” she said. “We can see this through  environmental changes, through political, technological and social changes.... Many people I've worked with as a meditation teacher have experienced this as a sense of overwhelm. 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.”

Padma’s writing and practice are informed by her experiences working with students on Wellesley’s campus. “The questions of meaning-making, the processes of self discovery I have been privileged to witness as a meditation teacher working with Wellesley students have deepened my own ‘great question,’” she said. “The exchanges I've had with students and our shared experience of growth through relationship are among the most vivid threads of narrative in the book. They are set against the backdrop of these incredibly distinct rhythms and seasons of Wellesley life.”

In addition to her full schedule at Wellesley, Padma is completing a Ph.D. in transpersonal psychology at Sofia University with a research focus on Buddhist practices of healing. She serves on the board of Education as Transformation, an international organization that works with educational institutions to explore the impact of religious diversity and the role of spirituality in the learning process. Her recent writing has been published in Our Neighbor's Faith: Stories of Interfaith Encounters and Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work.

According to online descriptions, in her new book, Living the Season, Padma "organizes teachings around the four seasons. In living connected to natural rhythms—the stillness of winter, the renewal of spring, the ripening of summer, the harvest of autumn—we touch a wholeness that is the source of healing and happiness. Practical exercises at the end of each chapter promote this state of being and bring the mind home to its innate clarity."

One reviewer calls the book "a gift to help us remember the way back to simplicity amidst the storms life brings. A beautiful book that provides a breath of fresh air full of calm and substance." In it you will also "find out what Dustin Hoffman has to do with one of her stories involving a stranded bride in NYC during a rainstorm."