Weeding the Mind Garden - Original Illustration by Ashley Jane Graphics

This is the personal blog of Emily Breder, a productivity enthusiast dedicated to the practice of daily mind-weeding via meditation & writing.

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For the last few years this domain has been home to Creative Content Studio, my website development agency. CCS is still alive and kicking on another domain. I have repurposed this domain for my personal blog.

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Why Jukai?

After three years on hiatus, my blog is being relaunched here. Part of what I will be writing about here is productivity relating to work, using methods such as Scrum and Kanban, but I’ll also be writing about my personal journey towards becoming a Zen priest and all the messiness which comes from uncluttering your head and life. My old meditation blog was called ‘Peace Ground Zero’ and I wrote from the heart about my journey and inner work. I will be doing much the same here, only with a new purpose.

This coming year I will be taking the Jukai vows which solidify my commitment to the Rinzai Zen path. By doing so, I’m not saying this path is the one that is right or correct for everyone, just that it is what works for me. I’ve gone rounds on the topic of taking vows for ten years but now, after several significant breakthroughs in 2015, the time feels ripe.

Before doing so, several questions must be addressed. For one, why do I want to do this? What is my intent in taking on the vows to become a lay-ordained Zen priest? What are my aspirations as a person?

This last question keeps me up late at night. It’s not that I don’t know what my aspirations are, it’s that there are so many pushing and shoving for attention that I can’t formulate a complete, coherent sentence about what they are or could be. In any case, before I can put myself out there as a teacher it seems like an important question to answer more fully.

As for the other questions, I want to take the vows because I have studied this path thoroughly and it feels like the right one. This was not a choice I took lightly and have been debating over taking the vows since before I met my husband 15 years ago. My intent in taking the vows is simply to be an honest human being who lives progressively and proactively. I truly believe that taking the vows will assist me and that is why I am taking them.

I have considered the pain it will cause some of my beloved family, who are of a more mainstream faith tradition, and I have considered the discomfort may cause the close family and friends who know nothing of Zen and the process undertaken by initiates who choose to walk this difficult path. But ultimately I am responsible for saving myself and no one will do my work but me.

I have learned to listen carefully to my inner guide. Whatever my aspirations are, they will be supported by acts not motivated by fear and self-hatred.

While the below is not the exact nature of the vows I will be taking, they are part of them and similar to the Three Jewels Refuge vows, which I made five years ago at my old sangha (mindfulness practice community).


I commit myself to a culture of nonviolence and reverence for life.
I commit myself to a culture of solidarity and a just economic order.
I commit myself to a culture of inclusiveness and a life based on truthfulness.
I commit myself to a culture of equal rights between all sentient beings.


Creations are numberless — I vow to free them.
Delusions are inexhaustible — I vow to transform them.
Reality is boundless — I vow to perceive it.
The Awakened Way is unsurpassable — I vow to embody it.


I am of the nature to grow old; I cannot avoid aging.
I am of the nature to become ill or injured; I cannot avoid illness or injury.
I am of the nature to die; I cannot avoid death.
All that is mine, dear and delightful, will change and vanish.

I am the owner of my actions;
I am born of my actions;
I am related to my actions;
I am supported by my actions;
Any thoughts, words or deeds I do, good or evil, of that, I will be the heir.

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