• Today’s episode is an inspiring story about how to navigate life after receiving a diagnosis, especially if unexpected and related to mental health.

    Our guest is Dylan Parnell, a young man who practices Buddhism in Arizona. About 1 year after getting divorced at a young age, Dylan faced an unexpected health challenge that lead to him being hospitalized with psychosis, and then diagnosed with bipolar disorder and admitted to mental health facility for three weeks.

    After getting out, he had to rebuild both his life and self-worth, almost from scratch. Today, he shares how chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and studying Buddhism throughout this process helped him keep moving forward, step by step, in his words, to not be tied down by the cards he was dealt.


    1:16 Meet Dylan

    1:51 How he encountered Buddhism and why he started chanting

    6:18 The unexpected health challenge he faced

    9:55 How he used Buddhism while in a mental health facility

    11:53 What enabled him to keep chanting

    13:38 The small victories that came from doing his best

    16:28 The steps he took to rebuild his self-worth after getting out

    23:30 Three Buddhist concepts that helped him

    29:52 How he stopped feeling like a burden to his family

    35:07 What he is working towards now

    37:04 How he learned to appreciate his mental health journey

    41:30 Advice for anyone dealing with a diagnosis or unexpected challenge

  • Today’s episode is about imposter syndrome, or feeling like you don’t deserve success or happiness.

    Technically, imposter syndrome is not a psychiatric disorder but studies show that imposter feelings are experienced by 70% of people at some point in their life. These feelings can be caused by internal factors, like personality traits, and external factors, such as the environments we experience, as well as institutionalized discrimination.

    However it shows up in your life, feeling like you don’t belong or don’t deserve success or happiness is something Buddhism directly addresses. Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the ultimate affirmation of the dignity of each person’s life, and the purpose of practicing Buddhism is to develop a state of genuine happiness, both for ourselves and others.

    Today’s episode addresses all this and more, through the story of Aide Aguirre, a young woman who started practicing Buddhism at 24, simply to generate hope for her own life.


    2:20 Aide’s experience growing up undocumented

    10:35 What she had resigned herself to

    15:17 The feelings of imposter syndrome she experienced in college

    22:55 Why Buddhism resonated with her

    27:15 How she started chanting

    32:58 How her vision for her life started to change

    36:45 How getting COVID-19 pushed her to pursue her dreams

    43:14 Her journey to graduate school

    51:29 Advice to anyone struggling with the feeling that they don’t deserve success or happiness

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  • Today we're talking about how not to give up on your dream.

    Even if we discover our dream job or purpose at a young age, on the path to pursuing it, we often have to grapple with our own self-doubt, tough decisions, and at times, challenging and unexpected obstacles.

    Today we’re talking to Michael Cornell, a 5th-grade teacher in New York City. After struggling with anxiety and depression during graduate school, and then facing the realities of education in NYC, his journey in education became more and more challenging. But when he discovered Buddhism along the way, chanting helped him expand his own vision for education and develop the spirit to do his best at every task in front of him.

    Key takeaway: Our environment doesn’t need to dictate whether we feel we are on the right path or not. Rather, by tapping into our Buddhability through chanting, we can create the conditions to advance toward our dreams, no matter what’s happening around us.


    1:24 How Michael discovered his passion for education4:21 Why he was drawn to Buddhism10:58 What his vision for education was14:23 How chanting impacted his daily life32:41 What a value-creation based vision for education looks like39:01 How to create the conditions for trust and success46:20 The award Michael is currently up for
  • Today we’re talking to Lorenna Garcia-Bochas, a young woman in Georgia who grew up around the Buddhist community and chanting. Her own practice developed when she started college and faced some major challenges in her family and with her own mental health, which drove her to dig deep into her own heart to find a way forward.

    We cover a lot today: how to grapple with multiple identities and feeling like you don’t fit anywhere; how to take care of your family when they are struggling; and how to find the courage to seek help for your mental health, if that’s what you need.

    Ultimately, Lorenna’s story is an amazing example of how chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can be fuel for taking steady steps to respect your own life, which includes resolving doubt and pain, establishing a dream for the future and taking great care of yourself.

    (Note: No information on this episode should be considered medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for any questions related to treatment for mental health issues.)


    1:30 How Lorenna grew up

    6:50 Why she started practicing Buddhism

    8:30 The family challenges that drove her practice

    11:59 What her day-to-day struggle looked like

    21:46 How her expectations for herself started to change

    25:25 How she changed her experience of school

    30:28 What it took to believe in herself

    33:46 How she found her dream career path

    40:24 The challenges she faced being mixed-race

    43:17 Transforming shame

    45:34 Her favorite Buddhist concept

    48:41 What it took to ask for help for her mental health

    56:52 Advice for her younger self and anyone listening

  • Today we are covering one of our most highly requested topics: boundaries and self-care.

    Our guest is Jessica Riley, a mental health specialist in Florida, who most recently was a military psychologist. After struggling deeply with setting boundaries, an overwhelming workload and an inability to really take care of herself, she started chanting about her situation and came to a major realization about herself that changed everything. We’ll cover how she navigated her own experience and why caring for others doesn’t have to require sacrifice.

    Also, an announcement: For anyone struggling with well-being, self-care or burnout, starting Monday May 17 join us for a 7-Day Refresh on Buddhability! For a whole week, you’ll get daily newsletters with prompts, tips and advice on how to refresh yourself to protect your health, from a Buddhist perspective. To join, just sign up for our newsletter.


    1:28 Jessica's journey to become a military psychologist

    6:31 Why she turned to chanting

    15:08 What the daily workload felt like

    25:36 Two Buddhist concepts that shifted her perspective

    27:45 How she found time to chant

    31:12 What she realized about herself

    41:36 What happened after she decided to prioritize self-care and boundaries

    41:15 What believing in yourself looks like in practice

    50:22 Advice for anyone struggling with self-worth or burnout

  • Today we’re speaking with Beau Lancaster, a historian-in-training in Brooklyn, New York, who runs a YouTube channel and podcast called the Shady Historian. Beau’s dream is to be a historian who works in media spaces and he’s currently in grad school. But his journey there wasn't easy. It all started with a very challenging environment.

    We’re going to hear his story today from the perspective of a very universal question: Why am I in the environment I’m in? And what can I do to change it?


    0:31 Beau's search for safety

    3:27 Why he started chanting

    9:40 What Buddhism says about changing our environment

    16:14 How he decided to change his own

    19:59 The role chanting played in discerning his true worth

    23:33 The steps he took to develop his career

    30:09 Why chanting is like fuel

    34:02 How he stopped struggling with his past

    37:15 How to change your own environment

  • Today we're talking about careers, a topic that we plan to cover from many different perspectives on future episodes.

    Our guest is Louise Ocasion, who started practicing Buddhism when she was in college and struggling with a deep sense of confusion about what to do with her life. Today, she’s a corporate executive who has worked at some of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, but the journey to get here was filled with twists and turns. In short, it’s all about how to develop true confidence in your own voice, and true humility if you do achieve success, especially in a competitive environment.

    Key Takeaway: Inner transformation is a never-ending process, and along with being relentless in your efforts to achieve your goals, truly believing in yourself means looking honestly at what’s holding you back on the inside, as much as on the outside.

    Cheat Sheet

    1:24 Louise’s childhood as an immigrant

    4:20 Why she started chanting in college

    12:45 What it feels like to compare yourself to other people

    13:59 How chanting helped her get through school

    16:20 How she found her way to marketing

    20:52 The concept of beauty, benefit and good

    31:31 How she dealt with negative feedback

    44:33 Advice for anyone who is trying to build their career right now

  • Instead of an episode this week, we have an announcement! Based on your requests, we just published a video explainer on enlightenment. Find it on Buddhability's YouTube or Instagram, or at this link.

  • Today’s episode is about a key Buddhist concept, which teaches that where you are right now is exactly the place you need to be to fulfill your purpose, as long as you're willing to dig deep into your heart and let the courage out.

    We speak with Dori Colly, a young mother in North Carolina. On the surface, hers is a story about the challenges she went through to buy a house. But what's most incredible about her experience practicing Buddhism is how she courageously opened her heart, despite many traumatic experiences, to put down roots in a community that she never wanted to stay in the first place, because of how volatile and unsafe it felt.

    Today, many of her family members live on the same block and are working together to transform the community in which they live.


    0:19 Introduction to today’s topic
    2:16 Dori’s story
    5:53 What made her decide to start practicing Buddhism consistently
    7:40 Her journey to buy a house
    14:13 How winning in the morning became the key to transforming her disbelief
    16:50 What chanting can do
    18:42 How she’s been able to support a child with autism
    24:49 How chanting helped her transform family discord
    26:46 How chanting helped her transform how she felt towards the world
    30:58 How she reunited with her dad and moved him in next door
    32:46 What her dream became after purchasing the house
    40:16 The role that having supportive friends has played
    40:41 Advice for anyone who feels beat down by their environment right now
    42:55 The moment Dori’s heart shifted from not wanting to stay in North Carolina to taking full responsibility for her community

  • Today we are discussing a question that comes up a lot: How do I stop comparing myself to other people? It can be a real struggle, especially if you feel like the people around you are better or farther ahead than you in some way. Here’s an article we did on the subject, called Feel like you're falling behind?

    Our guest today is Harrison Tsao, who started practicing Buddhism in high school because he was deeply struggling with anxiety and depression, stemming from the fact that he found school really challenging, and was constantly being compared to his twin brother. It’s a really inspiring story: Once he started chanting, he took steady steps to find his own path forward and discovered his dream of becoming a chef. Then Covid-19 happened. Still, he never gave up. (You're gonna wanna to listen to the end on this one.)

    Cheat Sheet

    00:13 Introduction to today’s topic

    2:17 Why Harrison started practicing Buddhism

    6:45 What it was like growing up as a twin

    9:41 His journey toward college and finding his dream

    15:41 How Covid-19 impacted his path

    18:32 How having a Buddhist community helped him navigate his path forward

    22:28 The quote that changed his life

    24:38 How he started setting goals for himself

    29:59 Advice for anyone who feels like other people are farther ahead in life

    31:59 Where Harrison is now

  • Appreciate the Buddhability content but want to hear from people actually practicing Buddhism? We teamed up with members of our Buddhist community to present a new online series hosted by Buddhability. The first one is this Friday and we're talking about how to refresh yourself when you feel burned out.

    Join us Friday, March 26 at 9 a.m. PT, 11 a.m. CT, 12 p.m. ET.
    Register here: https://buddhability.org/practice/live/

  • On this episode, we discuss living with chronic health challenges, be it physical or mental health. Jenny Ohrstrom, who has been seeking treatment for Lyme disease for nearly 8 years, shares her story of learning how to find happiness despite living with painful, unpredictable symptoms.

    While everyone's experience with illness is different, for chronic illness, the battle is as much about managing the symptoms and seeking treatment as it about finding a way to value your life on daily basis, especially when you feel no hope.

    Key takeaway: Tapping into Buddhability can simply mean tapping into real, deep, courageous happiness, in the face of pain. Unlike positivity, sustainable happiness comes from cultivating a life state that enables us to never give up or give in to hopelessness.


    1:38 Introduction to Jenny and her Buddhist practice

    4:28 How she found out she had Lyme

    14:40 Why it was so bad

    17:07 How chanting helped her navigate the journey

    23:32 What the doctors told her

    24:38 How she defines recovery

    27:18 What happiness means on a daily basis

    33:02 Advice for anyone feeling defeated by chronic or long-term illness

  • Today we are talking about being new parents, which is a topic that's been requested by many listeners. Savini and Piper, college sweethearts from India who moved to New York City in their 20’s, share the story of having their first child in September 2019, just 6 months before the pandemic began.

    They've had to navigate a lot: not only grappling with a new identity and sense of responsibility, but also navigating covid and some unexpected health challenges their son was born with.

    Key takeaway: If you’re a new parent or thinking of becoming one, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo can help you build emotional and spiritual muscle to take on anything life throws your way.


    00:19 Today’s topic
    1:38 Introduction to Savini and Piper
    6:48 Navigating fear of parenthood
    10:25 The story of Maadhav’s birth
    13:40 How they chanted while pregnant
    18:25 How they navigated unexpected health challenges
    24:58 What it means to build resilience and confidence over time
    39:18 The hardest parts of parenting
    42:48 An amazing analogy for your capacity as a person
    47:19 Advice for new parents
    49:14 What chanting just 5 minutes can do
    53:20 Guest appearance by Maadhav

  • We are back with part 2 of last week’s episode, which is all about the Buddhist community. In the SGI we meet in local neighborhood groups (these days over Zoom) to figure out how to apply Buddhism to our daily lives, together.

    In part 2, we share Karina’s story of facing and transforming her past with support from her Buddhist friends, as well as advice for anyone who has just finished the 28 Day Buddhability Journey.

    If you would like to connect to a local Buddhist community virtually in your area, email us! And to subscribe to our newsletter, sign up here.

    Cheat Sheet

    0:29 Voicemails and messages from listeners who completed the 28-day journey

    6:35 Karina’s Story

    31:19 Advice on what to do after you’ve started chanting

  • We have a two-part episode for you today, all about the Buddhist community. In the SGI we meet in local neighborhood groups (these days over zoom) to figure out how to apply Buddhism to our daily lives, together.

    After all, research shows that giving help to others by listening and providing empathy and encouragement, gives us positive emotional and cognitive benefits in return.

    On this episode, Caitlin, Jahmela and Karina walk us through their own experience doing just that. Part 1 covers what to expect at Buddhist meetings, what the purpose of the community is and how Caitlin and Jahmela were able to give and gain support in their own local communities. And next week, we’ll be back with part 2 about Karina's story of facing and transforming her past with support from her Buddhist friends, as well as advice for anyone who has just finished the 28-Day Buddhability Journey.

    If you would like to connect to a local Buddhist community virtually in your area, email us at connect@sgi-usa.org.

    Cheat Sheet

    1:36 Introduction to Caitlin, Jahmela and Karina

    12:26 What to expect when you go to a Buddhist meeting

    17:04 Caitlin's Story

    32:28 Jahmela’s Story

    40:53 Coming up on Part 2

  • This week, we wanted to check in with everyone who is currently doing the 28 Day Buddhability Journey. (Remember, it’s not too late to jump in. Even a week of chanting can feel amazing!)

    Tell us how it’s going! If you’ve been chanting this month, send us a brief voice memo to podcast@sgi-usa.org sharing 1 thing you have learned or noticed so far during the chanting challenge. If you want to share your story with us in greater depth, put that in the email too and we might reach out to interview you! In March, we’ll do an episode recapping the challenge and we’ll play your messages on it.

  • Today we’re answering listener questions about love and relationships. We called up 3 people from our Buddhist community who have been chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for a while now—Abby from Oakland, Rah'mad from Washington, D.C., and Erika from New Jersey—and asked them their honest answers to your questions. The episode covers everything from what it takes to leave a bad relationship and how to move on when you do, to how to find your life partner and know if they are the one. You can listen all the way through or use the cheat sheet below to skip to specific questions.

    Cheat Sheet

    1:36 Introduction to Abby

    3:53 How can I get myself to leave a relationship that I know isn’t healthy?

    19:32 How do I move on after a relationship ends?

    24:56 Introduction to Rah'mad

    28:26 How can I deal with unreciprocated love?

    37:25 Help, I keep running into my ex.

    41:32 What Buddhist idea or teaching should I base my relationships on?

    44:59 Introduction to Erika

    47:31 How should I chant about finding a life partner, and how will I know if they are the one?

  • Today we are covering some of the basics of Buddhism for anyone who might be new to chanting or simply wants a refresher. We speak with Ryan Hayashi, who starting chanting in high school, when he was going through some pretty serious challenges. Now, over 10 years later, he’s an amazing high school math teacher in Arizona and also really active in the local Buddhist community there.

    If you’re new, we recommend listening to this episode all the way through, but if you just want to skip around for answers to your questions, see the cheat sheet below for timestamps.

    Cheat Sheet

    0:16 On how to join the February Buddhability Journey
    2:41 The basics of chanting Nam-myoho-renge kyo: how, when, for how long
    4:24 Should I be thinking about something while chanting?
    7:15 Is chanting the same as meditation?
    9:01 How does chanting make you feel? What changes will I see?
    11:36 How chanting impacted Ryan’s day-to-day life as a teacher
    14:54 Why chant in the first place?
    17:22 What is Buddhability? What are we trying to tap into by chanting?
    20:33 How is SGI Nichiren Buddhism different from other forms of Buddhism?
    25:50 What’s the point of having a Buddhist community?
    30:39 How does my daily practice connect to changing the world?
    30:04 What if I chant and don’t feel or see any changes?
    16:20 Tips for those trying chanting for the first time

  • We are excited to announce something special today—the 28 Day Buddhability Journey—which we’re kicking off on February 1. It’s a monthlong challenge to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo every day for however long you'd like, and it’s open to anyone, whether you’re brand new to chanting or just want a reason to refresh your practice.
    Sign up at buddhability.org/journey for all the details!

    Before we start the journey together, we thought it would helpful to talk to someone who is currently on this journey herself. So we called up Shannon Griffin, 26, of Philadelphia, who started chanting in March, right at the beginning of the pandemic.

    Cheat Sheet

    0:22 Introducing The Buddhability Journey
    1:58 The first time Shannon ever chanted
    2:55 Why she decided to try chanting every day
    6:36 What the initial days felt like
    11:13 How she decided what to chant about
    13:56 The changes she started seeing in her daily life
    17:49 A Buddhist concept that stood out to her
    21:20 How Shannon came to define her own Buddhability
    23:43 How she set goals for 2021
    26:47 Advice for anyone who is thinking about doing the Buddhability Journey