Where did you grow up? Berkeley, California.
When did you become a Buddhist? I learned to meditate when I was 8 and considered myself a Buddhist by the time I was in high school, though I did not take refuge until I was 22.
Is your family Buddhist? I grew up in a Buddhist-curious household. My mother and I attended dinners and meditations on Friday nights at the Nyingma Center in Berkeley.
What’s your daily practice? Just being.
Favorite aphorism? “Carpe diem.”
Favorite musician? Alexi Murdoch.
What’s the longest you’ve gone without meditating? A few days.
How do you get back on track? Drop into the body, watch a sunrise, get near a tree.
Longest retreat? Three years, three months, three days.
Book on your nightstand? Devotion: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro.
What do you like to do in your free time? Hike, practice yoga, compose music on the harmonium, enjoy a spa day.
Who is your teacher? I do have something like “living teachers,” but I’m no longer comfortable using that language, because so much is assumed when you say so-and-so is your teacher. In my sangha, I use the term “spiritual friend,” and that is how I understand my role—I help others to become their own teacher.
What non-Buddhist do you look to for guidance? My dog, Senge.
Coffee or tea? Both.
Favorite subjects in school? Literature, psychology, and anthropology.
What was your first job? Cleaning beakers in a biology lab.
Most used emoji? 🌈❤️️
What would you do if you weren’t a Buddhist teacher? I’d be a psychotherapist or a hidden yogi.
This January, watch Willa Blythe Baker’s Dharma Talk series, “The Art of Somatic Mindfulness” at tricycle.org/dharmatalks.
Editor’s note (June 2021): Willa Blythe Baker is transitioning from Lama Willa Miller, her name has been updated accordingly.
Start your day with a fresh perspective
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.