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The purpose of this book is to help you find yours and to share insights from Japanese philosophy on the lasting health of body, mind, and spirit. One surprising thing you notice, living in Japan, is how active people remain after they retire. In fact, many Japanese people never really retire-they keep doing what they love for as long as their health allows.

Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Alternative Download. Leave a Comment Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. He and his son go every day to the famous Tsukiji fish market and choose the best fish to bring back to the restaurant. He keeps practicing for years until he finally does. Why does the apprentice refuse to give up? No, because making sushi is his ikigai, too. Both Jiro and his son are culinary artists.

They enjoy themselves completely when they are in the kitchen; that is their happiness, their ikigai. Beyond the close relationship between father and son, which helps them keep the challenge going each day, they also work in a quiet, peaceful environment that allows them to concentrate.

Even after receiving a three-star rating from Michelin, they never considered opening other locations or expanding the business. They serve just ten patrons at a time at the bar of their small restaurant.

When they get down to work, both become one with the object they are creating. This unity with the object that they reach in a state of flow takes on special meaning in Japan, where, according to Shintoism, forests, trees, and objects have a kami spirit or god within them.

During this process, the artisan becomes one with the object and flows with it. An ironworker would say that metal has a life of its own, just as someone making ceramics would say that the clay does. The Japanese are skilled at bringing nature and technology together: not man versus nature, but rather a union of the two. The purity of Ghibli There are those who say that the Shinto value of being connected with nature is vanishing.

One of the harshest critics of this loss is another artist with a clearly defined ikigai: Hayao Miyazaki, the director of the animated films produced by Studio Ghibli. In nearly all his films we see humans, technology, fantasy, and nature in a state of conflict´┐Żand, in the end, coming together. One of the most poignant metaphors in his film Spirited Away is an obese spirit covered in trash that represents the pollution of the rivers. Considered a national treasure by the Japanese government, Miyazaki is an artist capable of becoming completely absorbed in his art.

He uses a cell phone from the late s, and he makes his entire team draw by hand. Those who have visited Studio Ghibli know that it is fairly typical, on a given Sunday to see a solitary individual tucked away in a corner, hard at work ´┐Ża man in simple clothes who will greet them with an ohayo hello without looking up. Miyazaki is so passionate about his work that he spends many Sundays in the studio, enjoying the state of flow, putting his ikigai above all else.

Visitors know that under no circumstances is one to bother Miyazaki, who is known for his quick temper´┐Żespecially if he is interrupted while drawing.

In , Miyazaki announced he was going to retire. To commemorate his retirement, the television station NHK made a documentary showing him in his last days at work. He is drawing in nearly every scene of the film. In another scene, he is shown walking to work on December 30 a national holiday in Japan and opening the doors of Studio Ghibli so he can spend the day there, drawing alone. His colleagues put on their best poker faces, not knowing what to say.

Can someone really retire if he is passionate about what he does? The recluses It is not only the Japanese who have this capacity; there are artists and scientists all over the world with strong, clear ikigais. They do what they love until their dying day. The last thing Einstein wrote before closing his eyes forever was a formula that attempted to unite all the forces of the universe in a single theory.

When he died, he was still doing what he loved. Reaching a state of flow while working on his formulas or playing music, his two ikigais, brought him endless pleasure.

Many such artists might seem misanthropic or reclusive, but what they are really doing is protecting the time that brings them happiness, sometimes at the expense of other aspects of their lives.

They are outliers who apply the principles of flow to their lives to an extreme. Another example of this kind of artist is the novelist Haruki Murakami. He sees only a close circle of friends, and appears in public in Japan only once every few years. Artists know how important it is to protect their space, control their environment, and be free of distractions if they want to flow with their ikigai. Microflow: Enjoying mundane tasks But what happens when we have to, say, do the laundry, mow the lawn, or attend to paperwork?

Is there a way to make these mundane tasks enjoyable? Near the Shinjuku subway station, in one of the neural centers of Tokyo, there is a supermarket that still employs elevator operators.

She is always smiling and enthusiastic about her work. How is she able to enjoy such a job? On closer inspection, it becomes clear that the elevator operator is not just pushing buttons but is instead performing a whole sequence of movements. She begins by greeting the customers with a songlike salutation followed by a bow and a welcoming wave of the hand. Then she presses the elevator button with a graceful movement, as though she is a geisha offering a client a cup of tea.

Csikszentmihalyi calls this microflow. Or whistled while painting a wall. Our ability to turn routine tasks into moments of microflow, into something we enjoy, is key to our being happy, since we all have to do such tasks.

Even Bill Gates washes the dishes every night. Richard Feynman, one of the most important physicists of all time, also took pleasure in routine tasks. Daniel Hillis, one of the founders of the supercomputer manufacturer Thinking Machines, hired Feynman to work on the development of a computer that could handle parallel processing when he was already world famous.

Meditation is one way to exercise our mental muscles. There are many types of meditation, but they all have the same objective: calming the mind, observing our thoughts and emotions, and centering our focus on a single object. The basic practice involves sitting with a straight back and focusing on your breath. Anyone can do it, and you feel a difference after just one session.

By fixing your attention on the air moving in and out of your nose, you can slow the torrent of thoughts and clear your mental horizons. When asked how she prepared, she replied that the most important part of her training was meditating for two hours each day. If we want to get better at reaching a state of flow, meditation is an excellent antidote to our smartphones and their notifications constantly clamoring for our attention.

In fact, one of the things we learn in the practice of meditation is not to worry about anything that flits across our mental screen. The idea of killing our boss might flash into our mind, but we simply label it as a thought and let it pass like a cloud, without judging or rejecting it.

It is only a thought´┐Żone of the sixty thousand we have every day, according to some experts. Meditation generates alpha and theta brain waves. For those experienced in meditation, these waves appear right away, while it might take a half hour for a beginner to experience them. These relaxing brain waves are the ones that are activated right before we fall asleep, as we lie in the sun, or right after taking a hot bath. We all carry a spa with us everywhere we go. Humans as ritualistic beings Life is inherently ritualistic.

We could argue that humans naturally follow rituals that keep us busy. In some modern cultures, we have been forced out of our ritualistic lives to pursue goal after goal in order to be seen as successful. But throughout history, humans have always been busy.

We were hunting, cooking, farming, exploring, and raising families´┐Żactivities that were structured as rituals to keep us busy throughout our days. But in an unusual way, rituals still permeate daily life and business practices in modern Japan. The main religions in Japan´┐ŻConfucianism, Buddhism, and Shintoism´┐Żare all ones in which the rituals are more important than absolute rules.

When doing business in Japan, process, manners, and how you work on something is more important than the final results. Whether this is good or bad for the economy is beyond the scope of this book. Rituals give us clear rules and objectives, which help us enter a state of flow.

When we have only a big goal in front of us, we might feel lost or overwhelmed by it; rituals help us by giving us the process, the substeps, on the path to achieving a goal. When confronted with a big goal, try to break it down into parts and then attack each part one by one.

Focus on enjoying your daily rituals, using them as tools to enter a state of flow. Happiness is in the doing, not in the result. They are the ones who spend more time than others in a state of flow. Using flow to find your ikigai After reading this chapter you should have a better idea of which activities in your life make you enter flow.

Why do those activities drive you to flow? For example, are all the activities you most like doing ones that you practice alone or with other people? Do you flow more when doing things that require you to move your body or just to think? In the answers to these questions you might find the underlying ikigai that drives your life.

Also, try new things that are not on the list of what makes you flow but that are similar and that you are curious about.

For example, if photography is something that drives you into flow, you could also try painting; you might even like it more! Or if you love snowboarding and have never tried surfing. Flow is mysterious. It is like a muscle: the more you train it, the more you will flow, and the closer you will be to your ikigai. The interviews we conducted in Okinawa merit their own chapter, but in the section that precedes it we have provided an overview of the life philosophies of a few international champions of longevity.

Today there are an estimated to supercentenarians in the world, although the age of only around 75 of them has been confirmed. Given the rise in life expectancy around the world, the number of supercentenarians might also increase. A healthy and purposeful life could help us join their ranks.

You have to learn to relax. The daughter of a textile merchant, she was born in , when Spain lost its colonies in Cuba and the Philippines, and the United States annexed Hawaii and launched Pepsi-Cola. Until she was , this woman´┐Żwho lived in three different centuries´┐Żcared for herself unassisted. At the time he was the oldest man in the world, though he was younger than fifty-seven women. She died of pneumonia in , at years and days old, leaving behind three children, twelve grandchildren, and twenty great- and great-great-grandchildren.

My husband, Antonio Capovilla, was the captain of a ship. He passed away at We had two daughters and a son, and now I have many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Things were better, back in the old days. People behaved better. I still remember most of the words. I also remember many prayers, and say them every day. I like the waltz, and can still dance it.

I also still make crafts, I still do some of the things I did when I was in school. I attribute it to that. She died of natural causes at the end of a happy life during which she denied herself almost nothing.

She rode a bicycle until she turned She stopped smoking at , when her cataracts started making it hard for her to bring a cigarette to her lips. One of her secrets may have been her sense of humor. At eighty-three he retired to an assisted living center in Montana, where he remained until his death.

He is the second-oldest man of verified age ever born in the United States. He gave many interviews in his final years, insisting that his longevity stemmed from, among other things, his habit of eating only two meals per day and working for as many years as he could.

Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Imich himself died shortly thereafter, in June of that year, leaving behind a long life rich with experiences. Imich attributed his longevity to, among other things, never drinking alcohol. Artists, for example, who carry the torch of their ikigai instead of retiring, have this power.

Art, in all its forms, is an ikigai that can bring happiness and purpose to our days. Enjoying or creating beauty is free, and something all human beings have access to. Hokusai, the Japanese artist who made woodblock prints in the ukiyo-e style and lived for 88 years, from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, added this postscript to the first edition of his One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji:6 All that I have produced before the age of 70 is not worth being counted.

It is at the age of 73 that I have somewhat begun to understand the structure of true nature, of animals and grasses, and trees and birds, and fishes and insects; consequently at 80 years of age I shall have made still more progress; at 90 I hope to have penetrated into the mystery of things; at years of age I should have reached decidedly a marvelous degree, and when I shall be , all that I do, every point and every line, shall be instinct with life.

That would be a nice theatrical way to go. Absurd, I know. I go day by day. There is only one thing for it then´┐Żto learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. About ten years ago, when I began reading and thinking more broadly about the questions of what are we, where did we come from and where are we going, I was astonished at how little this was being done.

A peaceful life in the countryside seems pretty common among people who have watched a century pass. Without question, the international superstar of longevity is Japan, which has the highest life expectancy of any country in the world.

In addition to a healthy diet, which we will explore in detail, and an integrated health care system in which people go to the doctor for regular checkups to prevent disease, longevity in Japan is closely tied to its culture, as we will see later on. The sense of community, and the fact that Japanese people make an effort to stay active until the very end, are key elements of their secret to long life. Several months earlier we had contacted the town council of a place known as the Village of Longevity to explain the purpose of our trip and our intention to interview the oldest members of the community.

After numerous conversations, we finally got the help we were looking for and were able to rent a house just outside the town. One year after starting this project, we found ourselves on the doorstep of some of the longest-living people in the world. We realized right away that time seems to have stopped there, as though the entire town were living in an endless here and now.

Once Route 58 passes Nago, where Orion beer´┐Żthe pride of Okinawa´┐Żis made, it skirts the coast until it reaches Ogimi. Every now and then a few little houses and stores crop up in the narrow stretch of land between the road and the base of the mountain. Our GPS finally guides us to our destination: the Center for the Support and Promotion of Well-Being, housed in an unattractive cinderblock building right off the highway.

We go in through the back door, where a man named Taira is waiting for us. Beside him is a petite, cheerful woman who introduces herself as Yuki. Two other women immediately get up from desks and show us to a conference room.

They serve us each a cup of green tea and a few shikuwasa, a small citrus fruit that packs a big nutritional punch, as we will see later on. Taira sits down across from us in his formal suit and opens up a large planner and a three-ring binder. Yuki sits next to him. Taira points out that these groups of people who help one another are characteristic of Ogimi. Taira also tells us that volunteer work, rather than money, drives much of what happens in Ogimi. Everyone offers to pitch in, and the local government takes care of assigning tasks.

This way, everyone can be useful and feels like a part of the community. Ogimi is the penultimate town before Cape Hedo, the northernmost point of the largest island in the archipelago.

Almost everything is the green of the Yanbaru jungle, making us wonder where the nearly thirty-two hundred residents are hiding. Her copilot is ninety-nine, and has also decided to spend the day with us. We have to drive fast to keep up with them on a highway that is sometimes more dirt than asphalt.

Finally reaching the other end of the jungle, we can at last sit down to eat. She likes to talk about her role as the director of several associations run by the local government.

Residents pay close attention to this last category. The Bunagaya Spirits of the Yanbaru Jungle Bunagaya are magical creatures that inhabit the Yanbaru jungle near Ogimi and its surrounding towns. They are mischievous, playful, and unpredictable. Locals say that the bunagaya love the mountains, rivers, sea, trees, earth, wind, and animals, and that if you want to befriend them, you have to show respect for nature. The woman turning ninety-nine blows out the candles and thanks everyone for coming to her party.

We eat homemade shikuwasa cake and end up dancing and celebrating as though it were the birthday of a twentysomething. Celebrate each day, together Celebrations seem to be an essential part of life in Ogimi. It involves hitting a ball with a mallet-like stick.

It is a low-impact sport that can be played anywhere, and is a good excuse to move around and have fun as a group. The residents hold local competitions, and there is no age limit for participants. We participate in the weekly game and lose to a woman who recently turned Everyone cheers, and the defeated look on our faces elicits laughter.

According to this ancient faith, the world is populated by an infinite number of spirits divided into several types: spirits of the home, of the forest, of the trees, and of the mountains. It is important to appease these spirits through rituals and festivals, and by consecrating sacred grounds. Okinawa is full of sacred jungles and forests, where many of the two main kinds of temples are found: the utaki and the uganju. We visited an uganju, or small, open-air temple adorned with incense and coins, next to a waterfall in Ogimi.

The utaki is a collection of stones where people go to pray and where, supposedly, spirits gather. Yuta are women chosen as mediums by their communities to make contact with the spirit realm through traditional rites.

Ancestor worship is another important feature of spiritual practice in Okinawa, and in Japan in general. This mabui is our spirit and the source of our life force. It is immortal and makes us who we are. Sometimes, the mabui of someone who has died is trapped in the body of a living person.

This situation requires a separation ritual to free the mabui of the deceased; it often happens when a person dies suddenly ´┐Żespecially at a young age´┐Żand his or her mabui does not want to move on to the realm of the dead. A mabui can also be passed from person to person by physical contact. A grandmother who leaves her granddaughter a ring transfers a part of her mabui to her.

Photographs can also be a medium for passing mabui among people. The older, the stronger Looking back, our days in Ogimi were intense but relaxed´┐Żsort of like the lifestyle of the locals, who always seemed to be busy with important tasks but who, upon closer inspection, did everything with a sense of calm. They were always pursuing their ikigai, but they were never in a rush.

Then we took a photo with a statue of a bunagaya, and walked up to it one last time to read the inscription: A Declaration from the Town Where People Live Longest At 80 I am still a child. If you seek long life and health, you are welcome in our village, where you will be blessed by nature, and together we will discover the secret to longevity. April 23, Ogimi Federation of Senior Citizen Clubs The interviews Over the course of a week we conducted a total of one hundred interviews, asking the eldest members of the community about their life philosophy, their ikigai, and the secrets to longevity.

We filmed these conversations with two cameras for use in a little documentary, and chose a few especially meaningful and inspiring statements to include in this section of the book. Open your heart to people with a nice smile on your face. If you smile and open your heart, your grandchildren and everyone else will want to see you. I do it every day. In the afternoon, I spend time with friends.

We try not to cause problems. Spending time together and having fun is the only thing that matters. I go right outside to check on my tomatoes, my mandarin oranges.

I love the sight of them´┐Żit relaxes me. After an hour in the garden I go back inside and make breakfast. From your fingers to your brain, and back again. I set my alarm for that time, have a cup of coffee, and do a little exercise, lifting my arms.

That gives me energy for the rest of the day. I like variety in what I eat; I think it tastes better. You have to keep your ancestors in mind. I go dancing with my friends once a week. Between a. And singing together. The first thing I do when I wake up is pray. Then I do my exercises and eat breakfast. At seven I calmly start working on my wicker.

When I get tired at five, I go visit my friends. Always staying busy, but doing one thing at a time, without getting overwhelmed. Living peacefully and enjoying the little things. Getting along with your friends. Spring, summer, fall, winter. Live it to the fullest. I still have so much to do. Laughter is the most important thing. I laugh wherever I go. Of course I am! I give thanks for it every day.

For example, I use my car to help friends get to the hospital. The trick is just to live. All belong to some form of neighborhood association, where they feel cared for as though by family. They celebrate all the time, even little things.

Music, song, and dance are essential parts of daily life. They have an important purpose in life, or several. They are relaxed and enjoy all that they do. They are very proud of their traditions and local culture. They are passionate about everything they do, however insignificant it might seem.

Locals have a strong sense of yuimaaru´┐Żrecognizing the connection between people. They help each other with everything from work in the fields harvesting sugarcane or planting rice to building houses and municipal projects. Our friend Miyagi, who ate dinner with us on our last night in town, told us that he was building a new home with the help of all his friends, and that we could stay there the next time we were in Ogimi.

They are always busy, but they occupy themselves with tasks that allow them to relax. Moreover, it has the highest ratio of centenarians in the world: more than for every million people as of September As a result not only of conflicts on the battlefield but also of hunger and a lack of resources once the war ended, the average life expectancy was not very high during the s and s.

What secrets to long life do the Japanese hold? What is it about Okinawa that makes it the best of the best in terms of life expectancy?

Experts point out that, for one thing, Okinawa is the only province in Japan without trains. Its residents have to walk or cycle when not driving. The most concrete and widely cited data on diet in Okinawa come from studies by Makoto Suzuki, a cardiologist at the University of the Ryukyus, who has published more than seven hundred scientific articles on nutrition and aging in Okinawa since Bradley J.

Willcox and D. Variety seems to be key. They ate an average of eighteen different foods each day, a striking contrast to the nutritional poverty of our fast-food culture. They eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. At least seven types of fruits and vegetables are consumed by Okinawans on a daily basis. More than 30 percent of their daily calories comes from vegetables.

Grains are the foundation of their diet. Japanese people eat white rice every day, sometimes adding noodles. Rice is the primary food in Okinawa, as well. We drove through several sugarcane fields every morning on our way to Ogimi, and even drank a glass of cane juice at Nakijin Castle.

Beside the stall selling the juice was a sign describing the anticarcinogenic benefits of sugarcane. In addition to these basic dietary principles, Okinawans eat fish an average of three times per week; unlike in other parts of Japan, the most frequently consumed meat is pork, though locals eat it only once or twice per week.

They also eat practically half as much salt as the rest of Japan: 7 grams per day, compared to an average of They consume fewer calories: an average of 1, per day, compared to 2, in the rest of Japan.

In fact, low caloric intake is common among the five Blue Zones. Hara hachi bu This brings us back to the 80 percent rule we mentioned in the first chapter, a concept known in Japanese as hara hachi bu. One easy way to start applying the concept of hara hachi bu is to skip dessert. Or to reduce portion size. The idea is to still be a little bit hungry when you finish. This is why portion size tends to be much smaller in Japan than in the West. Serving food on many small plates makes it easier to avoid eating too much, and facilitates the varied diet discussed at the beginning of this chapter.

Hara hachi bu is an ancient practice. The twelfth-century book on Zen Buddhism Zazen Youjinki recommends eating two-thirds as much as you might want to. Eating less than one might want is common among all Buddhist temples in the East. Perhaps Buddhism recognized the benefits of limiting caloric intake more than nine centuries ago.

So, eat less to live longer? Few would challenge this idea. Without taking it to the extreme of malnutrition, of course, eating fewer calories than our bodies ask for seems to increase longevity. If the body regularly consumes enough, or too many, calories, it gets lethargic and starts to wear down, expending significant energy on digestion alone.

Another benefit of calorie restriction is that it reduces levels of IGF-1 insulin-like growth factor 1 in the body. IGF-1 is a protein that plays a significant role in the aging process; it seems that one of the reasons humans and animals age is an excess of this protein in their blood. The or fasting diet recommends two days of fasting consuming fewer than five hundred calories every week and eating normally on the other five days.

Among its many benefits, fasting helps cleanse the digestive system and allows it to rest. The antioxidant power of green tea, for example, is well known, and will be discussed later at greater length. The closest approximation in the West would be the jasmine tea that usually comes from China. A study conducted by Hiroko Sho at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology indicates that jasmine tea reduces blood cholesterol levels. In addition to all the antioxidant benefits of green tea, it boasts the benefits of jasmine, which include: Reducing the risk of heart attack Strengthening the immune system Helping relieve stress Lowering cholesterol Okinawans drink an average of three cups of Sanpin-cha every day.

It might be hard to find exactly the same blend in the West, but we can drink jasmine tea, or even a high-quality green tea, instead. The secrets of green tea Green tea has been credited for centuries with significant medicinal properties. Recent studies have confirmed its many benefits, and have attested to the importance of this ancient plant in the longevity of those who drink it often.

Unlike other teas, and as a result of being air-dried without fermentation, it retains its active elements even after being dried and crumbled. It offers meaningful health benefits such as: Controlling cholesterol Lowering blood sugar levels Improving circulation Protection against the flu vitamin C Promoting bone health fluoride Protection against certain bacterial infections Protection against UV damage Cleansing and diuretic effects White tea, with its high concentration of polyphenols, may be even more effective against aging.

In fact, it is considered to be the natural product with the greatest antioxidant power in the world´┐Żto the extent that one cup of white tea might pack the same punch as about a dozen glasses of orange juice. In summary: Drinking green or white tea every day can help us reduce the free radicals in our bodies, keeping us young longer.

The powerful shikuwasa Shikuwasa is the citrus fruit par excellence of Okinawa, and Ogimi is its largest producer in all of Japan.

The fruit is extremely acidic: It is impossible to drink shikuwasa juice without diluting it first with water. Its taste is somewhere between that of a lime and a mandarin orange, to which it bears a family resemblance.

Shikuwasas also contain high levels of nobiletin, a flavonoid rich in antioxidants. Consuming nobiletin has been proven to protect us from arteriosclerosis, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity in general.

Shikuwasas also contain vitamins C and B1, beta carotene, and minerals. They are used in many traditional dishes and to add flavor to food, and are squeezed to make juice. Following this diet will help you feel younger and slow the process of premature aging. When we visited Ogimi, the Village of Longevity, we discovered that even people over eighty and ninety years old are still highly active.

The enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles, where it can get burned off, slow down. And after two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent.

Just getting up for five minutes is going to get things going again. If we live in a city, we might find it hard to move in natural and healthy ways every day, but we can turn to exercises that have proven for centuries to be good for the body.

The Eastern disciplines for bringing body, mind, and soul into balance have become quite popular in the West, but in their countries of origin they have been used for ages to promote health. They are touted as elixirs of youth, and science has endorsed the claim.

These gentle exercises offer extraordinary health benefits, and are particularly appropriate for older individuals who have a harder time staying fit. Its emotional benefits are just as important: It is a great shield against stress and depression. As Japanese centenarians show us, all you need is to add movement to your day. Practicing any of these Eastern disciplines on a regular basis is a great way to do so.

An added benefit is that they all have well-defined steps, and as we saw in chapter IV, disciplines with clear rules are good for flow. One of the main purposes of doing radio taiso is to promote a spirit of unity among participants. The exercises are always done in groups, usually in schools before the start of classes, and in businesses before the workday begins. Statistics show that 30 percent of Japanese practice radio taiso for a few minutes every morning, but radio taiso is one thing that almost everyone we interviewed in Ogimi had in common.

Even the residents of the nursing home we visited dedicated at least five minutes every day to it, though some did the exercises from their wheelchairs. We joined them on their daily practice and we felt refreshed for the rest of the day. When these exercises are done in a group, it is usually on a sports field or in a large reception hall, and typically involves some kind of loudspeaker. The exercises take five or ten minutes, depending on whether you do all or only some of them.

They focus on dynamic stretching and increasing joint mobility. One of the most iconic radio taiso exercises consists of simply raising your arms above your head and then bringing them down in a circular motion. It might seem basic, but in our modern lives, we can spend days without raising our arms above our ears. Think about it: our arms are down when using computers, when using smartphones, when reading books.

One of the few times we raise our hands over our heads is when reaching for something in a cupboard or closet, while our ancestors were raising their hands over their heads all the time when gathering things from trees.

Radio taiso helps us to practice all the basic movements of the body. Basic version of the radio taiso exercises 5 minutes. Yoga Popular in Japan as well as in the West, yoga can be done by almost anyone. Some of its poses have even been adapted for pregnant women and practitioners with physical disabilities.

Yoga comes from India, where it was developed millennia ago to unite our mental and physical elements. Yoga strives to unite body and mind in the same way, guiding us toward a healthy lifestyle in harmony with the world around us. The main objectives of yoga are: To bring us closer to our human nature Mental and physical purification To bring us closer to the divine Styles of yoga Though all are oriented toward similar goals, there are many different types of yoga that vary according to the traditions and texts from which they were developed.

The differences among them lie, as the masters say, in the path taken to the summit of our best self. To do it, you simply have to follow these twelve basic movements: 1. With your feet together, stand up straight but keep your muscles relaxed. Place the palms of your hands together in front of your chest; from this position, inhale as you raise your arms above your head and bend backward slightly.

Exhale as you bend forward until you touch the ground with the palms of your hands, without bending your knees. Stretch one leg back to touch the floor with the tips of your toes.

Bring the other leg back, keeping your legs and arms straight, as you hold your breath. As you exhale, bend your arms and bring your chest to the ground and then forward, resting your knees on the ground.

Straighten your arms and bend your spine back, keeping the lower half of your body on the ground. With your hands and feet on the ground, lift your hips until your arms and legs are straight and your body forms an upside-down V.

Exhale throughout the movement. Exhale as you bring your back foot forward and straighten your legs, keeping your hands on the ground as in posture 3. Bring your arms above your head with your palms together and bend backward slightly, as you did in posture 2, while you inhale. Lower your arms to their initial position in mountain pose while you exhale. According to Chinese tradition, it was created by the Taoist master and martial arts practitioner Zhang Sanfeng, though it was Yang Luchan who in the nineteenth century brought the form to the rest of the world.

Tai chi was originally a neijia, or internal martial art, meaning its goal was personal growth. Focused on self-defense, it teaches those who practice it to defeat their adversaries by using the least amount of force possible and by relying on agility. Tai chi, which was also seen as a means of healing body and mind, would go on to be used more frequently to foster health and inner peace.

To encourage its citizens to be more active, the Chinese government promoted it as an exercise, and it lost its original connection to martial arts, becoming instead a source of health and well-being accessible to all.

Styles of tai chi There are different schools and styles of tai chi. The following are the best known: Chen-style: alternates between slow movements and explosive ones Yang-style: the most widespread of the forms; characterized by slow, fluid movements Wu-style: utilizes small, slow, deliberate movements Hao-style: centered on internal movements, with almost microscopic external movements; one of the least practiced forms of tai chi, even in China Despite their differences, these styles all have the same objectives: 1.

To control movement through stillness 2. To overcome force through finesse 3. To move second and arrive first 4. To know yourself and your opponent The ten basic principles of tai chi According to the master Yang Chengfu, the correct practice of tai chi follows ten basic principles: 1. Elevate the crown of your head, and focus all your energy there.

Tighten your chest and expand your back to lighten your lower body. Relax your waist and let it guide your body. Learn to differentiate between heaviness and lightness, knowing how your weight is distributed. Relax the shoulders to allow free movement of the arms and promote the flow of energy. Value the agility of the mind over the strength of the body.

Unify the upper and lower body so they act in concert. Unify the internal and the external to synchronize mind, body, and breath. Do not break the flow of your movement; maintain fluidity and harmony. Look for stillness in movement. An active body leads to a calm mind. Imitating clouds One of the best-known movements in tai chi consists of following the form of clouds in an exercise called Wave Hands Like Clouds. Here are the steps: 1.

Extend your arms in front of you with your palms down. Turn your palms to face in, as though you were hugging a tree trunk.

Open your arms out to the side. Bring the left arm up and center, and the right arm down and center. Trace the shape of a ball in front of your body. Turn your left palm toward your face. Shift your weight to your left foot and pivot from your hip toward that side, while your eyes follow the movement of your hand. Bring your left hand to your waist and your right hand in front of your face. Shift your weight to your right foot. Pivot toward your right, looking at your raised right hand the entire time.

Repeat this movement fluidly, shifting your weight from one foot to the other as you reposition your hands. Stretch your arms out in front of you again and bring them down slowly, returning to your initial position. Though relatively modern, especially under its current name, the art of qigong is based on the Tao yin, an ancient art meant to foster mental and physical well-being.

The practice began to appear in reports on training and martial arts at the beginning of the twentieth century, and by the s was being used in hospitals. The Chinese government later popularized it, as it had done with tai chi. Qigong involves static and dynamic physical exercises that stimulate respiration in a standing, seated, or reclined position. There are many different styles of qigong, but all of them seek to strengthen and regenerate qi. Though its movements are typically gentle, the practice is intense.

Benefits of qigong According to numerous international scientific studies, qigong´┐Żlike tai chi and yoga´┐Żoffers significant health benefits.

The following stand out among those proven through scientific research, as observed by Dr. Kenneth M. Methods for practicing qigong In order to practice qigong correctly, we should remember that our life energy flows through our whole body. We should know how to regulate its many parts: 1. Tyau Shenn: regulating the body by adopting the correct posture´┐Żit is important to be firmly rooted to the ground 2.

Tyau Shyi: regulating the breath until it is calm, steady, and peaceful 3. Tyau Hsin: regulating the mind ; the most complicated part, as it implies emptying the mind of thoughts 4. Tyau Chi: regulating the life force through the regulation of the three prior elements, so that it flows naturally 5.

This series of movements seeks to balance the five currents of energy in order to improve brain and organ function. There are several ways to do these movements. EARTH 1.

Stand with your legs apart and your feet directly below your shoulders. Turn your feet outward slightly to strengthen the posture. Keep your shoulders relaxed and down and your arms loose at your sides, slightly away from your body this is the Wu Qi, or rooted, posture. As you inhale, raise your arms in front of you until your hands are level with your shoulders, your palms facing down.

Exhale as you bend your knees and bring your arms down until your hands are level with your stomach, your palms facing in. Hold this position for a few seconds, focusing on your breath. Starting from Earth posture, bend your knees into a squat, keeping your chest upright and exhaling throughout.

Press your coccyx downward to stretch your lumbar spine. As you inhale, stand to return to Earth posture. Repeat twice, for a total of three. WOOD 1. Starting from Earth posture, turn your palms upward and open your arms to the side, forming a circle as you inhale, until your hands are level with your clavicle.

Turn your hands so that your palms and elbows point downward, while keeping your shoulders relaxed. Reverse the movement as you exhale, making a downward circle with your arms until you reach your initial position. METAL 1. Starting from Earth posture, raise your arms until your hands are level with your sternum.

Turn your palms toward each other, about four inches apart, with your fingers relaxed and slightly separated, pointing upward. As you inhale, move your hands away from each other until they are shoulder width apart. As you exhale, bring your hands toward each other until they are back in position 2. Repeat twice, for a total of three, observing the concentration of energy as you bring your hands together in front of your lungs.

FIRE 1. Starting from Earth posture, bring your hands level with your heart as you inhale, with one hand slightly above the other and your palms facing each other.

Rotate your hands to feel the energy of your heart. Turn from your waist gently to the left, keeping your torso relaxed and your forearms parallel to the ground. With your palms still facing each other, separate your hands, bringing one up until it is level with your shoulder, and the other down in front of your abdomen.

Turn from your waist gently to the right, keeping your torso relaxed and your forearms parallel to the ground. As you exhale, let your hands come back together in front of your heart.

Starting from Earth posture, inhale as you bring your hands level with your shoulders, palms facing down. As you exhale, lower your arms to rest at your sides, returning to the initial Wu Qi posture. Shiatsu Created in Japan in the early twentieth century, principally for the treatment of arthritis, shiatsu also works on energy flow through the application of pressure with the thumbs and the palms of the hands.

What is important is the technique and the essence of what is really practiced. Stretching and contracting, bending and lifting of the head, stepping, lying down, resting or standing, walking or stepping slowly, screaming or breathing´┐Żeverything can be a Tao Yin. It quotes, among others, the celebrated Chinese doctor and essayist Sun Simiao, who lived during the sixth century.

Sun Simiao was a proponent of a technique called the Six Healing Sounds, which involves the coordination of movement, breathing, and pronouncing sounds with the purpose of bringing our souls to a place of calm. It reminds us of the importance of breathing, and suggests that as we breathe, we visualize the organs associated with each of the healing sounds. In spring, breathe xu for clear eyes and so wood can aid your liver. In summer, reach for he, so that heart and fire can be at peace.

In fall, breathe si to stabilize and gather metal, keeping the lungs moist. For the kidneys, next, breathe chui and see your inner waters calm. The Triple Heater needs your xi to expel all heat and troubles. In all four seasons, take deep breaths so your spleen can process food. The practice is most excellent and will help preserve your divine elixir.

It might feel confusing to be presented with all the Eastern traditions we have introduced in this chapter. The takeaway is that they all combine a physical exercise with an awareness of our breath. These two components´┐Żmovement and breath´┐Żhelp us to bring our consciousness in line with our body, instead of allowing our mind to be carried away by the sea of daily worries.

Most of the time, we are just not aware enough of our breathing. One thing that everyone with a clearly defined ikigai has in common is that they pursue their passion no matter what. They never give up, even when the cards seem stacked against them or they face one hurdle after another. Sooner or later, we all have to face difficult moments, and the way we do this can make a huge difference to our quality of life. The more resilient we are, the easier it will be to pick ourselves up and get back to what gives meaning to our lives.

Resilient people know how to stay focused on their objectives, on what matters, without giving in to discouragement. Their flexibility is the source of their strength: They know how to adapt to change and to reversals of fortune. In the words of the famous Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr: God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

At sixteen he married and had a child. Neither wealth nor extreme asceticism worked for him. A wise person can live with these pleasures but should always remain conscious of how easy it is to be enslaved by them.

Zeno of Citium began his studies with the Cynics. The Cynics also led ascetic lives, leaving behind all earthly pleasures. They lived in the street, and the only thing they owned was the clothing on their backs. You have to be prepared for those pleasures to disappear.

The goal is not to eliminate all feelings and pleasures from our lives, as in Cynicism, but to eliminate negative emotions. Since their inception, one of the objectives of both Buddhism and Stoicism has been to control pleasure, emotions, and desires.

Though the philosophies are very different, both aim to curb our ego and control our negative emotions. Both Stoicism and Buddhism are, at their roots, methods for practicing well- being. According to Stoicism, our pleasures and desires are not the problem. The Stoics viewed those who were able to control their emotions as virtuous. We finally land our dream job, but after a little while we are already hunting for a better one.

People can be insatiable. The Stoics believed that these kinds of desires and ambitions are not worth pursuing. The objective of the virtuous person is to reach a state of tranquility apatheia : the absence of negative feelings such as anxiety, fear, shame, vanity, and anger, and the presence of positive feelings such as happiness, love, serenity, and gratitude. In order to keep their minds virtuous, the Stoics practiced something like negative visualization: They imagined the worst thing that could happen in order to be prepared if certain privileges and pleasures were taken from them.

To practice negative visualization, we have to reflect on negative events, but without worrying about them. Seneca, one of the richest men in ancient Rome, lived a life of luxury but was, nonetheless, an active Stoic.

He recommended practicing negative visualization every night before falling asleep. In fact, he not only imagined these negative situations, he actually put them into practice´┐Żfor example, by living for a week without servants, or the food and drink he was used to as a wealthy man.

Worrying about things that are beyond our control accomplishes nothing. It is not simply a question of keeping the mind free of thoughts but instead involves observing our thoughts and emotions as they appear, without getting carried away by them.

In this way, we train our minds not to get swept up in anger, jealousy, or resentment. The here and now, and the impermanence of things Another key to cultivating resilience is knowing in which time to live. Both Buddhism and Stoicism remind us that the present is all that exists, and it is the only thing we can control. Instead of worrying about the past or the future, we should appreciate things just as they are in the moment, in the now.

In addition to living in the here and now, the Stoics recommend reflecting on the impermanence of the things around us. The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius said that the things we love are like the leaves of a tree: They can fall at any moment with a gust of wind. He also said that changes in the world around us are not accidental but rather form part of the essence of the universe´┐Ża rather Buddhist notion, in fact.

We should never forget that everything we have and all the people we love will disappear at some point. This is something we should keep in mind, but without giving in to pessimism. Being aware of the impermanence of things does not have to make us sad; it should help us love the present moment and those who surround us. Keeping this always in mind helps us avoid excessive pain in times of loss.

Wabi-sabi and ichi-go ichi-e Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept that shows us the beauty of the fleeting, changeable, and imperfect nature of the world around us.

Instead of searching for beauty in perfection, we should look for it in things that are flawed, incomplete. This is why the Japanese place such value, for example, on an irregular or cracked teacup. Only things that are imperfect, incomplete, and ephemeral can truly be beautiful, because only those things resemble the natural world.

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Ikigai The Japenese secret to a long and happy life ( English )

WebDownload Download Ikigai [EPUB] Type: EPUB Size: MB Download as PDF Download as DOCX Download as PPTX Download Original PDF This document was . Web[PDF] ´┐Ż IKIGAI ´┐Ż ´┐Ż Download Book by Hector Garcia PDF Under: eBooks & Readings PDF Preview: Summary Here on this page, we have provided the latest download link for . WebThis project started as a student project in and was presented in Every aspect of the internet, we believe, ought to be free. As a consequence, this utility was developed .