My friend Jamie Zimmerman died on Monday. There aren’t any beautiful words flowing — just sorrow, gratitude for knowing her, and the gaps between.

I met her at Menla Mountain Retreat & Conference Center in 2012 at a gathering called Occupy Wellness. We laughed and connected on so many levels, and it was clear she was already a light on this earth. 

This summer I got to hug her hard at Wanderlust Festival. I had the pleasure of her voice and heart, and sat near her teacher from fifth grade who’d come to see her “always brilliant and kind” star student. She was so genuinely happy and real and big-change-making and still able to focus just on you.

Waves of pain and tears that she’s no longer here to inspire and help people the way she did in her 31 years. Deeper gut pain for her family, friends.

Every time I think of her, Roshi Joan Halifax’s wisdom for compassionate living “soft front, strong back” comes to mind. Jamie was a courageous, compassionate, brilliant and magnetic being.

The words below from Pema Chodron bring some comfort and a sense of how Jamie might turn this tragedy into, in her words, a “crisi-tunity…crisis to opportunity.”

Pause long enough to feel it. Then step forward treating people as kindly as possible.

Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.

On the other hand, wretchedness-life’s painful aspect-softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.

― Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

From Jamie:

What if there was something schools could do that was scientifically shown to promote emotional resilience, physical health and academic performance? …And, what if there were a way to incorporate such a tool into our children’s education, so that every child could establish the habits of a healthy, happy life?

— Jamie Lauren Zimmerman, M.D., HuffPost What (Most) Schools Fail to Teach

I did something today that felt so right, so on purpose, and so guided by the principles Jamie lived by: I applied to be an Africa Yoga Project ambassador because I want to be a part of elevating our commitment to sharing yoga, mindfulness, and nutrition with all children, everywhere.

Paraphrasing Jamie:

Getting quiet to hear our hearts opens doors to how we want to live our lives. 

Do for others, shifting from fear to love.

Take the leap and go for your dreams…learn to fly.

Right on, beauty.



Nine lines in memory of Jamie Zimmerman, M.D.

Get quiet

to hear your heart

to be in the gap

to lighten the load

to breathe slower, deeper

to connect to why and how

you are meant to love

and share your gifts

be on this earth

Jamie’s Tedx Bushwick talk:

How to be brave