getting to know our veterans: erica angyo miller

1. What year/how old were you when you joined the military?
I signed up to join the military in 2003, at the age of 17, with parental permission. 

2. Why did you enlist in your branch of service?
As a kid I dreamed of being an investigator. I loved watching detectives shows like “Matlock” and “Murder She Wrote.” Being able to figure things out, to see the world through a different lens and uncover the truth has always inspired me. The U.S. Army seemed aligned with my goal of becoming an FBI Investigator, with opportunities to serve and pay for a college degree.

3. How many years did you serve and what unit/units?
I served a total of nine years in Army, with the 96th Military Police Battalion and the National Guard Transportation Unit in West Palm Beach, Florida.

4. Which practice forms (sitting, walking, working, eating, or Deep Listening and Mindful speech) have been important and supportive in your daily life?
Daily practices that continue to impact my life are sitting meditation, eating meditation, walking meditation, and deep listening/mindful speech. Each have helped me be present to what is happening inside me but also what is occurring in that specific environment. 

5. What drew you to Zen practice?
My understanding of Zen started at a young age. For me, it is a state of being from within the self, and it can be a cultivated state of peace, happiness, or contentment. The practice emerged more for me as the chaos of the outside world was pulling me from those natural states and more discipline needed to be applied.

6. How does Zen Practice influence your daily life?
Zen practice in some shape or form is the life in which I am influenced to live. Every day it shows up differently, but the basics of sitting, eating, and mindfulness remain as the backbone of the day.

7. What does it mean to you to be a part of this practice community?
The active support of like-minded people helps me to understand that I am not alone in the world, and that should I need a listening-ear or guidance, there are others who love and care about me who will help me if they can, as well as who trust me to be there for them. Community to me is “my chosen life family."

8. Who is/was the most inspirational person in your life and why?
An influence in my life was my brother, who was born mentally handicapped, and how powerfully positive he was about life and loving others.

9. What one word would you use to describe your Zen practice?
“Compassionate” is my word to describe my Zen practice. It helps me see value in waking up every day and also being gentle with myself.