Spending nearly 3 weeks in Japan certainly has a balancing effect on a person. Not only does removing oneself totally from their normal routine and environment create a place to reflect, learn, relax and grow but being immersed in a different culture brings rich experiences that can be brought home, assimilated, and used to enhance and enrich your own life.
To lead a balanced, enriching life we all know that we must eat well and exercise… because without optimal health and energy it becomes a daily struggle to reach our potential. But it is equally important for optimal health and happiness that we create balance in our lives… time to stop, relax and reflect. And I must admit, for me personally, this is my greatest challenge!
It has been all too easy to push through my days without stopping to take a breath – because there is so much to do and never enough time to do it. The demands of running a business are endless… and even though I have great passion for what I do I’m guilty of not giving myself permission to stop, relax and reflect. And therein lies a symptom of an unbalanced, unhealthy life.
So completely extracting myself from my normal environment and immersing myself in a totally different culture has done wonders. I’ve had time to learn, to experience, to relax, to stop. I’ve had time to reflect and replenish, to nurture myself and indulge. But most importantly I’ve had time to just be me without any deadlines or expectations… very liberating and very necessary.
Japan can have a very ‘transforming’ effect on people. And for everyone that I have spoken to who has experienced Japan, it has been the same. If rebalancing and reflecting is in order Japan is the place to go. Although in saying that, with its 120 million people and limited habitable land (a lot of the country is mountainous) it is a country of paradoxes. Believe it or not amid the hustle and bustle there lies a sense serenity.
However the best place to experience this serenity is Kyoto where the thousands of Buddhist and Shinto temples reside with their magnificent water gardens and Zen gardens. It is absolutely delightful to discover such beautiful gardens behind gates, up steep staircases or down windy paths, where you can glimpse the timeless style and structure of each garden. Each plant, rock or stone feature is placed precisely and expertly to create visual harmony… a feast for the eyes and the soul!
I was very attracted to these gardens (as my 1000+ photographs will prove) as they created a sense of calmness and peace… something we all strive for daily. And the Japanese certainly know the secret to taking time for oneself. Beside the centuries-old tradition of bathing where you can spend time in the many natural hot spring baths (onsens) to replenish and rejuvenate (and the springs’ water also lay claim to alleviating many aching pains) I was also fascinated with the 3 other famous traditions or “dou” (which means “way forward to the peak”) in Japanese cultural enjoyment.
My favourite is “Koudou” the culture of experiencing traditional Japanese scent. “Koh” or traditional Japanese incense, was brought to Japan over 1400 years ago along with the conveyance of Buddhism. Historically Japanese incense was used exclusively for religious ceremony or in the social routine of samurai warriors, but in the last 400 years incense has become popular among all classes as it was established as a tradition for all Japanese culture.
There are Ten Virtues of Koh…
1. “It brings communication with the transcendent.”
2. “It refreshes mind and body.”
3. “It improves impurity.”
4. “It brings alertness.”
5. “It is a companion in solitude.”
6. “In the midst of busy affairs, it brings a moment of peace.”
7. “When it is plentiful, one never tires of it.”
8. “When there is little, still one is satisfied.”
9. “Age does not change its efficacy.”
10. “Used every day, it does no harm.”
The other two “dou” are “kadou” (flower arrangement) and “Sadou” (tea ceremony).
I have certainly been enriched by my Japanese experience and especially by the Japanese people. In no other country have I experienced such warmth, generosity and thoughtfulness as I have in Japan. David (hubby) and I have made many new friends and learnt so much from them and I know it is just the start of lifelong friendships.
Next week I will share with you my experiences of Japanese food and my cooking class as well as the ingredients I sourced at the famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo and Nishiki market in Kyoto.
Now is the time to create some harmony and balance in our lives…
“Because it’s not a Rehearsal”
©2011 Live Better Naturally Pty Ltd