Jerry Braza: Sowing the seeds of mindfulness

By Stefanie Knowlton, November 6, 2016

This picture was taken in Homer, Alaska where Braza is helping leaders create a more mindful community.

This picture was taken in Homer, Alaska where Braza is helping leaders create a more mindful community.

TEDxSalem speaker Jerry Braza plants the seeds of mindfulness one conversation, one seminar and one community at a time.

When he talks his words fall slow and steady. His eyes stay fixed on the person in front of him. There is nowhere else to be but here, right now.

In Homer, Alaska, Braza taught hundreds of educators, health-care workers, mental health providers and parents the benefits of mindfulness and how to create that stillness within. Once they heal themselves, he said, they can heal the community.

Braza is an ordained dharma teacher in the lineage of Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh, spreading mindfulness at retreats, seminars, workshops and classes. But mindfulness didn’t always come naturally to the retired Western Oregon University professor.

“I was always in a rush,” he said about his life 35 years ago.

“I always felt anxious. I felt like I was always late. I was with someone, and I was not really there.”

He remembers skipping pages when he read books to his kids at night because he felt like he didn’t have the time.

Braza started to take classes on meditation and mindfulness. He traveled to India, China, Vietnam and Thailand to study. Then he mixed in his Catholic roots of contemplation and developed a secular mindfulness practice that he now shares.

One simple way to practice, he said, is to linger longer on something beautiful. We often focus on negative things. Instead gaze on something of beauty such as leaves on a sidewalk, the moon, a flower or someone you love. Stay with that image for a full 10 breaths.mountain

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Catch Braza at TEDxSalem this January to find a little more peace in your life and your community.

Get your tickets for TEDxSalem IV

Tickets are on sale now for Salem’s annual TEDx event Saturday, January 7, 2017. Tickets are $50, $40 for students. The all-day event includes talks, performances, refreshments, lunch and a swag bag. Follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date news from our community, and check our website regularly for new information. You can also reach us at