How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness by Jan Chozen Bays

A growing body of research is showing that mindfulness can reduce stress, improve physical health, and improve one’s overall quality of life.

Jan Chozen Bays, MD—physician and Zen teacher—has developed a series of simple practices to help us cultivate mindfulness as we go about our ordinary, daily lives. Exercises include: taking three deep breaths before answering the phone, noticing and adjusting your posture throughout the day, eating mindfully, and leaving no trace of yourself after using the kitchen or bathroom. Each exercise is presented with tips on how to remind yourself and a short life lesson connected with it

Publishers Weekly
Amid the current spate of books on mindfulness, Bays’s distinguishes itself with 53 simple practices tested through 20 years at the Great Vow Zen Monastery in Oregon. A pediatrician as well as the center’s abbess, Bays (Mindful Eating) has found “one reliable remedy for the relief of recurrent discomfort and unhappiness…. It is regular mindfulness practice.” Bays, a student of Maezumi Roshi and Shodo Harada Roshi, brings gentle compassion to the task of integrating mindfulness into a busy life. Practices include leaving no trace, eliminating filler words, waiting, mindful driving, saying yes, silly walking, and noticing dislike. Each practice includes reminder tips, “discoveries” members of her community have made, and “deeper lessons” that might be drawn. The introduction clearly defines mindfulness and outlines its benefits in calming the mind that habitually dwells in the past, anticipates the unknown future, or creates fantasies. Bays’s insights are frequently astute. This encouraging book serves as a guide for incorporating mindfulness into the most mundane of daily activities in the spirit of Zen.

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Jan Chozen Bays, MD, is a Zen master in the White Plum lineage of the late master Taizan Maezumi Roshi. Along with her husband, Hogen Bays, she serves as a priest and teacher at the Jizo Mountain-Great Vow Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon. She is also a pediatrician who specializes in the evaluation of children for abuse and neglect. She is a wife, mother and grandmother and loves to garden, play marimba and sculpt Jizo images.


The documentary film BEYOND BELIEF, directed by Jim Lemkin, explores the nature, uses and limits of beliefs and the consequences of unexamined beliefs. This heart-centered movie investigates real-life stories of people who, when they dared to question, discovered new worlds of understanding and common ground beyond their old beliefs. We go on a journey with wise ones and distinguish harming from healing beliefs. A compelling and open-minded film, BEYOND BELIEF asks what it really takes to fulfill our deepest and most sacred human needs beyond the realm of beliefs.


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