About Maia

photo: Genevieve Russell

photo: Genevieve Russell


I am passionate about empowering individuals and groups to create the conditions for work that matters!

As a writer, consultant, and coach, I draw on decades of Zen practice as well as training in anthropology to create powerful tools for integrating mindfulness into the workplace and in clients’ everyday lives. Through workshops, online programs, coaching, and writing, I’ve been honored to support people around the world as they navigate career transitions, shift their relationship to work, and create healthier workplaces.

As Research Director at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (CMind) from 2002 – 2004, I designed and implemented several qualitative studies on the impact of contemplative practices in the workplace. Several articles were published based on these studies; you can read them and more of my writing on this page.

During my time at CMind I also conceptualized and developed the Tree of Contemplative Practices, a tool that has since been widely used to support individuals, organizations, and businesses find the reflective practices that work best for them.

As executive director for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship from 2004 – 2007, I had lots of opportunities to experiment with the insights gained from the CMind research. In addition to leading strategic planning, fundraising, and communications efforts for the organization, I managed a staff of ten people in this nonprofit dedicated to practicing socially engaged Buddhism. This was a great chance to bring awareness practices into the workplace (along with my background in organizational culture and development) and observe how they could increase the effectiveness of our work.

Over the past decade, I’ve had a joyful time creating my own work that matters – a kind of wild tapestry that weaves together organizational consulting, individual coaching, spiritual mentoring, writing, and leading retreats and workshops in the U.S. and Thailand. Learn more about my Body of Work.

My first book, Work That Matters: Create a Livelihood That Reflects Your Core Intention, will be published by Parallax Press in December 2017.

Interested in working together? Find out more here.

The best way to stay in touch with me is to sign up for my mailing list…. every full moon, I send an e-letter with reflections on life and liberation, as well as updates about workshops I’m offering around the world. Please sign up here:




Official Bio
(long version)


A cultural anthropologist, writer, and longtime Zen meditation practitioner, Maia is offers mindfulness and other reflective practices that cultivate compassion, awareness, and social transformation.

After graduating from the University of Pacific with a bachelor’s degree in music therapy, Maia spent ten years doing direct care work in the mental health system in Connecticut and Oregon. This experience helped her to understand the depth of suffering that both patients and care providers live through, and planted in her the seed to work towards more healing environments for everyone.

In 1993, Maia entered graduate school at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco to study cultural anthropology. This was a pivotal moment in her life, bringing her into contact with gifted teachers such as Roshi Joan Halifax, Angeles Arrien, and Joanna Macy, and starting her on the path of formal Buddhist practice. In 2001, she began to study and practice with Shosan Victoria Austin, a teacher at San Francisco Zen Center in Shunryu Suzuki Roshi’s lineage. Maia is currently preparing to receive entrustment as a lay Zen teacher from Shosan.

Maia has long been committed to finding ways to make meditation practice accessible. She was part of the first wave of people who helped to bring mindfulness into mainstream awareness.

From 2002 – 2004, she was the Research Director at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society where she worked with Mirabai Bush and other team members to document the use of mindfulness and other reflective practices in secular settings, including healthcare, business, education, and social change work. This qualitative study, called “The Contemplative Net,” generated a number of reports and resources that helped to put mindfulness on the cultural map.

While at the Center, Maia conceptualized the “Tree of Contemplative Practices” as a way to illustrate the data that was gathered in the research project. The “Tree” has since been used with thousands of individuals and groups, offering a creative way to think about contemplative practices and to personalize them in a way that recognizes our diverse backgrounds.

Following her tenure at the Center, Maia went on to become the executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, a national organization dedicated to the intersection of Buddhist teachings and social change work. Among the many activities she was involved in at BPF, she organized two Buddhist Peace Delegations, a coalition of meditation practitioners from around the U.S. who traveled to Washington, D.C., (first in 2005 and then again in 2007) to advocate for an end to the war in Iraq.

This commitment to peacework and socially engaged Buddhism continued as Maia was invited to envision, launch, and direct the Upaya Zen Center Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Program, a role she held from the program’s inception in 2008 until 2014. Working closely with program founder Roshi Joan Halifax, Maia created a powerful transformative learning environment for each cohort that went through the two-year training.

In 2012, Maia received ordination as a lay Buddhist chaplain from Roshi Joan Halifax. Maia also serves on the faculty of the International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice in northern Thailand.

As you can see from this long and winding road, Maia has been passionate about pursuing the question, “How can I create right livelihood?” In order to support others who share that same desire, she has taken everything she’s learned from these career explorations and turned it into a popular program called “Fall in Love with Your Work.”

In addition to these projects, Maia has served as a consultant and coach to numerous individuals and social change organizations for more than 20 years. In 2008, she started her own business, Five Directions Consulting, as a way to serve nonprofit professionals and small business owners. She has a passion for working toward a more just and peaceful world, and is committed to helping others become agents of change in both nonprofit and corporate settings.


Okay, now that the ‘official’ stuff is out of the way, here is the fun version of my life:


  • I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Lucy, a rescue dog who has rescued me.
  • It took me nearly nine years to do it, but I paid off $32,000 of credit card debt. I called this my “debt liberation quest” and consider it one of my first successful liberation projects.
  • Among the things I’ve done for work: music therapist, mental health counselor, administrative assistant, bookseller, writer, editor, anthropologist, nonprofit executive director. I’ve distilled the lessons I learned during many years of searching for right livelihood into an online course that lots of folks have raved about: “Fall in Love With Your Work.”
  • I love to travel—I’ve circumambulated Mt. Kailash, a sacred mountain in Tibet; traveled to India and Thailand; spent five weeks in Bali (way, way before Eat, Pray, Love); and have been to northern Thailand three times to hang out with elephants and teach at a great place called the International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice. That’s just a little bit of my travel resume. I am a big believer in the transformative power of travel.
  • I am deeply spiritual and eminently pragmatic.


 Contact Maia via this page