Well-being from the East

May 24, 2021

Looking to the East when it comes to answers on living a contented life has been a common practice for many decades. Mindfulness, for example, was brought to the West from the Buddhist teachings from the East, in the 1970s by Jon Kabat-Zinn. In this blog, Mind Ninja explores what the East teaches on living a healthier and happier life.

Ikagai

Ikagai comes from the Japanese term meaning purpose. Ikagai conceptualises finding purpose through a combination of 4 pillars: passion, mission, profession and vocation.

If we think of purpose as a flower, with the petals creating the 4 pillars, we can appreciate that our purpose comes from a combination and balance of the petals.

Examining the theories from Positive Psychology, a similar viewpoint is found. Martin Selgman’s Perma model conveys meaning as one of the 5 key emotions contributing to real well-being. He argues that impact, significance, belief and purpose are all strands that form meaning.

  • To practice Ikagai, start by drawing out the venn diagram and adding the details to your petals.
  • Get clear on your values
  • Ask yourself, what are your true passions
  • What legacy would you like to leave behind and why?
  • What profession matches your values and mission?
  • How can I align my values with my everyday?

Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing fractured pottery with gold lacquer.

It is also a wonderful metaphor for life - we can practise compassion and learn to love all of our eccentricities and setbacks, and create a masterpiece celebrating every part including all the 'cracks'.

Much easier said then done but there are ways to enhance self compassion;

  • Try talking to yourself as your best friend would
  • Celebrate every small win and write them down in a positivity jar
  • Make a list of things you love about yourself
  • Practise gratitude daily by thinking of 3 things you are grateful for and why
  • Mindfulness especially loving kindness mindfulness - this has been shown to enhance empathy and compassion
  • Regular check ins to enhance emotional intelligence and ability to connect with our emotions
  • Look out for beauty in imperfection

Shinrin-yoku

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Another beautiful Japanese term, meaning forest bathing, invites us to spend time in Nature in order to feel better in the mind & body.  This practise allows us to slow down and connect with Nature. A great space to also strengthen mindful walking  and mindful living. There has been growing research into the health benefits of forest bathing with some studies showing a chemical released by trees and plants, called phytoncides, was found to boost the immune system.

To apply mindfulness to shinrin-yoku, here are some tips;

  • Become aware of all of your senses - the sights, sounds, smells and textures around you
  • Focus on one element of your surroundings, for example a tree. Notice and observe all its details, being truly present and when you notice your mind wandering, gently nudge back to the object
  • Practise mindful walking at different speeds- try walking very slowly, noticing the feel of the ground against your shoes, the sensations of walking slowly and staying in the present

Wabi-sabi

This Japanese term alludes to the transient nature of life. It is a worldview where minimalism is revered, unfinished is considered positively, fluidity, growth and humility are celebrated. We can practise this through;

  • Finding mindfulness, contentment and awe in the change of each season
  • Gratitude for what we already have
  • Repurposing old items of clothes or furniture
  • Finding beauty in the natural ageing process

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