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 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 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


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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


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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