Posts In: SEEDS of YOGA(ヨガ哲学)

Nothing Is Certain Except Death & Taxes


Nothing Is Certain Except Death & Taxes

~Detachment & How It Can Help You Prepare for the Inevitable~

The other day I was preparing for an upcoming wellness seminar when I came across my notes on a story called the Yaksha Prashna from the great Indian epic, The Mahabharata.  In it, the rightful King Yudhishthira comes upon a lake and the lifeless bodies of his 4 beloved brothers. In order to safely quench his overwhelming thirst and grieve for his brothers, he is tasked with correctly answering the questions of the spirit yaksha.

Through their subsequent dialogue, Yudhishthira and the Yaksha (who has mysteriously appeared in the form of a crane) enlighten the reader on the morals, values and ideals of the Ancients as well as the foundational concepts of Indian philosophy.

Q: “What is more fleetier (runs around faster) than the Wind?”

A: “The Mind”

From here we learn the concept of the ‘monkey mind’, one of the biggest obstacles to finding peace, happiness and contentment and one of the key targets of our sadhana (practice).

Q: “What is the most valuable possession?”

A: “Knowledge”

Q: “What if renounced, makes one happy?”

A: “Desire”

From these exchanges we learn about how controlling our desire for things such as material wealth can help us to find true happiness; another key tenet in many Eastern teachings and a focal point for many practices.

The two following exchanges shed a powerful light on the kind of mindset we should cultivate to live a life of ‘shant’ (peace) and have had a profound impact on my life and how I try to share the teachings.

Q: What is sorrow (grief)?

A: Ignorance

Q: What is the greatest wonder of the world?
A: Everyday people around us are dying and leaving this world. However, each of us thinks that somehow we will escape death and live forever. Isn’t this the greatest wonder of the world?

Often, unless we are faced with a great tragedy – 9/11, the great Tsunami in Japan, an illness or death in the family – we spend so much of our lives conveniently forgetting the fact that we are mortal. This ignorance often results in a misguided perspective and misplaced priorities. And, at some point, these lead to the sort of grief and sorrow that Yudhishthira was alluding to.

Case in point, a recent medical scare at home put everything suddenly back into perspective. All of the things that had been bothering me – misunderstandings and confusions, concerns about the future, how to best take care of an aging parent – vanished in the blink of an eye. The shock and gravity of the scare had eclipsed all of my daily frustrations and challenges. There was an instant reshuffling of priorities; what should matter more now actually mattered more. It was like a fog had lifted and Right Perspective had recaptured its rightful place.

Fortunately, the medical tests came out negative and we were able to get somewhat back to our regular lives. But that moment in time of uncertainty was, paradoxically, a moment of true clarity. And, if viewed and appreciated for the incredible reminder that it is, can help to reshape the way we look at life from that day onwards.


When, as Yudhishthira reminds us, the inevitable illness and death appear, ignorance (avidya)  comes in at least two ways:

  1. Ignorance of the fact that this day of illness and/or death would eventually come. This may lead to regret because, if we were not ignorant of this, we may have taken actions or spent time and our attention in other ways.
  1. Ignorance that this life is impermanent (see: “The Illusion of Permanence”). This second ignorance, a sort of disbelief or forgetting that all things and people must at some time go, leads to attachment (see: raga).

Both ultimately lead to grief, sorrow and suffering.

The Ancients warn us about our ignorance (avidya) so that we can:

  1. Be more aware of our very human tendency to lose Right Perspective
  1. Protect against ignorance and the sorrow it causes through developing Detachment

The Bhagavad Gita and Patanjai Yoga Sutras, along with many other of the ancient texts, talk about the practice of ‘letting go’ or vairagya*.  These texts make it very clear that detachment or renunciation is a practice and not just something that happens automatically in humans.  So like any practice, it needs to be cultivated. More on that in a moment.

But first, what is this state we are calling detachment?

There is a real danger of taking it to be apathy, uncaring or perhaps an aloofness. It is actually quite the opposite.  Detachment can be seen as ‘dispassion’ with the idea being that we try to separate ourselves from the passion that tends to clutter the mind and pull us off of our center. With a clear heart and mind, we act and feel from a place that is anchored in truth as opposed to ignorance.

Of course detaching can be difficult with even the simplest of objects such as foods. Anyone who has tried to give up their ‘love’ of chocolate, wine, fried foods or pastries, knows this can be a Herculean task. And even if we physically let go of the food, the attachment usually persists. Just thinking about it brings back a rush of emotion and heaven forbid we see or smell that food again!

Now, extending our efforts for dispassion towards other material things like wealth, houses, cars is one thing, doing the same for more abstract notions such as status or title, quite another. Our sense of identity is something we have spent a long time, indeed all of our lives, creating. So, freeing ourselves from these attachments is something few of us are even keen to pursue. (Note to self: what happens when this is eventually lost?)

Talking about identity, what about extending detachment to our own bodies?  How can we not be attached to the body that has served us for so long and physically represents us to the world?  (Wait, what about my face, my long hair, my ability to do handstands?)

But if we pay heed to Yudhishithira’s words, it is obvious that our bodies have and will change. I may not be able to do 20 years from now what I did 20 years ago. Anyone else feel the same? So, detaching from the body now may make things a little easier later on.

And then what about loved ones? Not attaching to loved ones may seem antithetical but often we mistake our own desires for love. Our desires such as wanting our children to become doctors or engineers, wanting our parents to stay together, wanting our partners to act a certain way and so on may be born from good intentions but ultimately can lead to grief and frustration for all involved. As the musician Sting (the Yudhishithira of the 70s, 80s, 90s and today?) reminded us, “if you love somebody, set them free. Free, free, set them free”. To do that, we cannot be attached.

This may seem like a perplexing, uphill battle but it is at the crux of the spiritual practice of yoga. And there is a way to soften the strong attachments, both conscious and unconscious, that pervade our lives.


  1. AWARENESS: Acknowledge that there is work to be done and that there is a benefit (i.e. freedom from ignorance = freedom from grief and sorrow; right perspective prepares us for the inevitable). This will become easier as you start to feel and live the changes the practice will undoubtedly bring about.
  1. OBSERVATION: Start with the small things such as noticing the foods you are attached to or unhealthy routines like looking at your smart phone just before bed. Your observations will inform what you need to do next.
  1. ACTION: Acknowledging and recognizing are good first steps but without action, there is no lasting change. Action in the new direction will be challenging but that’s exactly why it is called training. Again start with something small and manageable like just reducing the amount of junk food or alcohol you consume. You may not get it perfect right away (if you do, call the Guinness Book folks!) but everyday you practice training in a new direction, you will get a little further from attachment and a little closer to detachment.
  1. REPEAT 1 through 3. And repeat. And repeat.


Although nothing may be certain besides death and taxes, once a year we are forced to deal with the latter. If we hope to reduce our own future grief and sorrow from the inevitable changes in our bodies, life and loved ones, we will be well served to start preparing now for the former. 

*Reference excerpts from Bhagavad Gita (BG) & Patanjali Yoga Sutras (PYS)

BG 6.35: Lord Krishna said: O mighty-armed son of Kunti, what you say is correct; the mind is indeed very difficult to restrain. But by practice and detachment, it can be controlled.

श्रीभगवानुवाच | असंशयं महाबाहो मनो दुर्निग्रहं चलम् | अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते ||35||

śhrī bhagavān uvācha

asanśhayaṁ mahā-bāho mano durnigrahaṁ chalam

abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa cha gṛihyate||35||


1.12 There is suppression of that (the previous five mental modifications) by means of Abhyāsa (practice) and Vairāgya (renunciation).

अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः॥१२॥  Abhyāsavairāgyābhyāṁ tannirodhaḥ||12||

1.15 Vairāgya or Renunciation is known as the act of subjugating the desire for objects seen or repeatedly heard from the scriptures

दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृष्णस्य वशीकारसञ्ज्ञा वैराग्यम्॥१५॥

Dṛṣṭānuśravikaviṣayavitṛṣṇasya vaśīkārasañjñā vairāgyam||15||

1.16 Indifference to the Guṇa-s, (the qualities of nature), because of a knowledge of Puruṣa (universal principle; true Self)is called the highest (Vairāgya or Renunciation)

तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेर्गुणवैतृष्ण्यम्॥१६॥   Tatparaṁ puruṣakhyāterguṇavaitṛṣṇyam||16||








Q: 「最も価値のある財産は何であるか?」






Q: この世の悲しみとは何であるか?

A: それは無知であることです。


A: 世界中のどこかで毎日誰かが命を落とし、この世を去ります。それはいつか自分にも訪れるもの。しかし私たちは、それを自分事とするのをいつも忘れてしまうのです。これこそがこの世の不思議です。






  1. 大切な人との別れはいつか必ずやってくる事を忘れてしまう事。「あの時もっとこうすれば良かった」と後悔の念に駆られないためにも、大切な人との過ごし方について考える時間は誰にでもきっと必要でしょう。
  1. この世が永遠でないことを忘れてしまう事(参照:「永遠という名の錯覚」)。全ての物や人はいずれは消え去ります。望みが失われてしまいそうで目を背けやり過ごそうとしたとしても、知らぬ間に執着(参照:ラーガ)に繋がってしまうものなのです。



  1. 人間は正しい視点を失いがちな生き物であることを自覚しなさい。
  2. 「無執着」を身につける事で無知がもたらす悲しみから自分を守りなさい。

「バガヴァッド・ギータ」や「パタンジャリ・スートラ」、その他多くの古文書は、「手放す」こと、すなわちヴァイラーギャの実践について述べています(BG 6.35, PYS 1.12,15,16* )。そして、これらの文書が明確にしているのは、「無執着」はまさに練習が必要であり、生きていれば自然に身につくようなものではないということです。 ですから、あらゆる修行と同じように養っていく必要があります。





では、自分自身の身体への執着をなくすにはどうしたらよいのでしょう。 持って生まれた立派な眉(誰のことかな?)、髪、ハンドスタンドができる体力等、ずっと自分のために尽くしてくれているこの尊い存在を気にもとめず、愛着を持たずにいられるでしょうか?


では、あなたの大切な人についてはどうでしょう。愛する人に執着しないことは、一見矛盾しているようにも聞こえます。私たちはしばしば、自分の欲望を愛だと錯覚する事があります。子供には医者やエンジニアになってほしい、両親にはずっと2人一緒にいてほしい、パートナーにはこうあってほしい…。この気持ちは善意から生まれているものだとしても、最終的には双方に不満や悲しみを抱かせてしまうのです。歌手のスティングも”Set them free”の歌詞の中で「誰かを愛するならば、その人を自由にさせて」とまるで現代のユディシュティラのように私たちにメッセージを送っています。そう、執着してはいけないのです。




  1. 認識:成すべき事があり、そこに価値がある事を認識する。自分の心や身体にからみつく無知を解いていく事は悲しみや憂いからの解放です。その作業を繰り返す事で真実がある場所(正しい視点)に立ち正しく行動できるようになるのです。
  1. 観察:小さなステップから始めましょう。自分が好んで食べるものや、ベッドの上でのスマホ時間が不健康な習慣に思えたならば、次に何をすべきかが見えてきます。
  1. 行動:観察から気がつくのは最初の一歩として良い事なのですが、実際に行動しなければ、変化は見込めません。楽な道のりではないからこそ、私たちはこれを訓練や練習と呼んでいるのです。ジャンクフードやアルコールの摂取量を減らすなど、小さな一歩から始めてみましょう。すぐに完璧にはできないかもしれませんが(もしできたら、ギネスもの!)正しい視点がある場所へ歩き出せば、執着から離れて無執着へと近づいていけるのです。
  1. 反復:1〜3を繰り返しましょう。十分過ぎることはありません、何度でも繰り返しましょう。



ご存知の方もいるかと思いますが、英語のことわざには “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” 「死と税金以外に確実なものなどない」という表現があります。つまりここでいう「death and taxes」は「絶対に避けられないもの」という意味になるのですが、後者とは年に一度の確定申告時に否が応でも真剣に向き合わなければなりません。だからもし、あなたの身体や生活、そして大切な人に将来訪れる変化や悲しみを少しでも抑えたいと思うのならば、前者に対する必要な準備に取り掛かるのはきっと今だと私は思うのです。


BG 6.35: クリシュナ神は言った: 強靭な腕を持つクンティの息子よ、あなたの言うことは正しい。しかし、修行と離脱によって、それを制御することができる。

श्रीभगवानुवाच | असंशयं महाबाहो मनो दुर्निग्रहं चलम् | अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते ||35||

śhrī bhagavān uvācha

asanśhayaṁ mahā-bāho mano durnigrahaṁ chalam

abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa cha gṛihyate||35||


1.12 アビヤーサ(修行)とヴァイラーギャ(放棄)によって、それ(前の五つの精神的変調)の抑制がある。

अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः॥१२॥  Abhyāsavairāgyābhyāṁ tannirodhaḥ||12||

1.15 VairāgyaまたはRenunciationは、経典から見たり繰り返し聞いたりした対象への欲望を抑える行為として知られています。

दृष्टानुश्रविकविषयवितृष्णस्य वशीकारसञ्ज्ञा वैराग्यम्॥१५॥

Dṛṣṭānuśravikaviṣayavitṛṣṇasya vaśīkārasañjñā vairāgyam||15||

1.16 プルシャ(普遍的な原理、真の自己)を知っているために、グナース(自然の性質)に無関心であることを、最高(ヴァイラーギャまたは放棄)と呼ぶのである。

तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेर्गुणवैतृष्ण्यम्॥१६॥   Tatparaṁ puruṣakhyāterguṇavaitṛṣṇyam||16|

The Illusion of Permanence


The Illusion of Permanence

In Canada, in the 70s and 80s, the ‘invisible (radio) airwaves crackle[d] with life’ with the music of a homegrown band called RUSH. Their style epitomized the progressive rock genre and they were known for uniquely and seamlessly weaving together incredible musicianship, complex compositions, and ethereal lyrics.

I vividly remember frontman Geddy Lee’s description of Tom Sawyer, the modern-day warrior, who ‘knows change isn’t permanent, but change is.’ Clearly, these guys were philosophers!

To hear concepts such as impermanence and freewill in their special brand of blues cum hard rock music was mind-blowing. And, what made it all the more exciting was finding this completely unexpected overlap between the world of Indian philosophy I was surrounded by at home and in the temple, and the exhilarating music I was listening to in the car and in the dressing room before ice hockey games.

I could go on and on about RUSH and the music of my youth but let me instead shift focus to this important, age-old concept of impermanence.

According to yoga philosophy, one of the ways to reduce suffering is to see ourselves and the world around us correctly. This right vision, we are told, has been blurred or covered with the veil of ignorance. So, we end up taking the impermanent as permanent. If we are ‘healthy’ now, we believe we will always be healthy. If our friends or family feel secure now, we believe they will always feel secure.

Then one day, Life decides to take a detour or ends up in a head-on collision and, all of a sudden, everything has changed. For proof, we need look no further than the pandemic that has caused needless illness and deaths, businesses to collapse, people to lose jobs, and the yet unknown effects on educational, intellectual, social, mental and physical health.

But we don’t need a calamity to remind us of impermanence. Getting older is a great teacher. Suddenly we can’t do the things we used to or eat the things we used to or stay up as late as we used to without suffering some palpable consequences. (Of course, a good yoga and wellness routine can go a long way in helping to delay these effects!)

The sage Patanjali, in his 2500 year old compilation of ancient yoga knowledge, sheds a bit of light on this topic of permanence and our ignorance of this truth, which may help us deal with the uncertainty, anxiety and suffering that we all go through at some point in life.

“Ignorance is regarding the impermanent as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant and non-Self as the Self.”*1

Now the beauty of Patanjali is that as an unparalleled grammarian he was able to condense vast amounts of knowledge into these concise aphorisms called ‘sutras’. On the flip side however, this means there is a whole lot for us to unpack in this brief, ten-word*2 sentence! So for now, let’s just focus on parts relevant to the concept of permanence.

First and foremost, we should note that Ignorance is not, in fact, bliss. Ignorance, in eastern thought, is the veritable root of all suffering.

Next, we are told that our ignorance entails a misperception of what is permanent and what is not. More specifically, we suffer because we mistake the impermanent – things, money, jobs, health, our body and our mind – to be permanent and, conversely, are blind to that which is permanent – our higher Self.

If this notion of ‘Self’ with a capital ‘S’ or ‘soul’ is all a bit too much, you are not alone. For many of us, it takes a bit of time to go beyond just some vague, intellectual understanding of the esoteric. After all, these concepts are by nature unknowable and inexpressible. It’s like trying to describe the taste of a Jamaican lilikoi fruit to someone who has never even heard of it. (On that note, if you have never tried one, I highly recommend it!) 

So, instead, we can look at something more tangible: ignorance in the form of attachment. It will come as no surprise that we humans are built to get attached. We get attached to things, pets, jobs, houses and relationships. We get attached to lifestyle, status, and the foods we eat. But the very notion of attachment is founded on the mistaken belief that we will always have these things and people around and that they will be, for the most part, just the way they are now. The kicker is that we have a second order mistaken belief that we have some control in maintaining the status quo. Alas, as Geddy reminds us, change is inevitable.

What’s here is here until it’s not.

As we can see, Ignorance does not concern itself solely with the ‘Big Truth’. Rather, we can easily fall into this state in the midst of our daily life. Recognizing this is an important way to remind ourselves to stay alert and to ask ourselves the right questions: “Am I present for the situation and people around me? Am I making the most out of each day and out of each breath? Or, am I holding on too tight to things and setting myself up for suffering?” And by reminding ourselves and repeating this process, we may automatically experience an undeniable gravitational pull towards that one and only permanence Patanjali calls svarupa*3 or ‘true Self’.

This is why Patanjali claims, in giving us hope, that ‘the suffering yet to come is avoidable”*4 . The way out is this process of our lifelong sadhana (practice) to see life, things and ourselves, correctly. This is the journey. We become active participants in our life, alert and aware, making course corrections and scanning our inner and outer world to catch ourselves when we get bewitched and beguiled by the illusion of permanence.

*1 Patanjali Yoga Sutra (PYS) अनित्याशुचिदुःखानात्मसु नित्यशुचिसुखात्मख्यातिरविद्या ॥ २.५ ॥

anityāśuciduḥkhānātmasu nityaśucisukhātmakhyātiravidyā || 2.5 ||

*2 anitya-aśuci-duḥkha-anātmasu nitya-śuci-sukha-ātman-khyātir avidyā

*3 PYS: तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम् ॥ १.३ ॥ tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe’vasthānam || 1.3 ||

*4 PYS: हेयं दुःखमनागतम् ॥ २.१६ ॥  heyaṃ duḥkhamanāgatam || 2.16 ||


カナダでは、70年代から80年代にかけてRUSHという同国の国民的グループバンドの音楽がラジオから流れない日はないほど絶大な人気を誇っていたのをご存知でしょうか。彼らのスタイルはいわゆるプログレ(様々なテイストのロックを包括した革新的なジャンル)の象徴で、音楽性の素晴らしさは言うまでもなく、独特の楽曲構成や 神秘的な歌詞をユニークかつシームレスに織り成すことでよく知られていました。








“Ignorance is regarding the impermanent as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant and non-Self as the Self.”*1







What’s here is here until it’s not.


このように、「無知」というものはハイヤーセルフだけに存在するものではありません。無知とは日常生活の様々な場面で現れるものです。私たちはその存在に気づいていくべきでしょう。そしてそれに気づく方法とは、注意深く自問自答をする事です。「私は今起きている事に向き合っているだろうか?」「私は一日一日を、一回一回の呼吸を最大限に活用しているだろうか?」「物事に固執しすぎて自分を苦しめていないだろうか?」このプロセスを何度も繰り返すことで、パタンジャリが言うスヴァルーパ*3あるいは「ハイヤーセルフ(本当の自己)」と呼ばれる唯一無二の永遠に自然と引き寄せられていくのです。だからこそ パタンジャリは、「これから起こる苦しみは避けることができる」*4 と、私たちに希望を与えてくれています。その方法は、人生、物事、そして自分自身を正しく見るための私たちの生涯をかけたサーダナ(練習)の過程です。人生の旅はそういうものです。自分の人生の主役となり、注意を払い、時に軌道修正をし、内面と外面を観察する事で永遠という名の幻想に惑わされそうになる自分は取り戻す事ができるのです。

*1 Patanjali Yoga Sutra (PYS) अनित्याशुचिदुःखानात्मसु नित्यशुचिसुखात्मख्यातिरविद्या ॥ २.५ ॥

anityāśuciduḥkhānātmasu nityaśucisukhātmakhyātiravidyā || 2.5 ||

*2 anitya-aśuci-duḥkha-anātmasu nitya-śuci-sukha-ātman-khyātir avidyā

*3 PYS: तदा द्रष्टुः स्वरूपेऽवस्थानम् ॥ १.३ ॥ tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe’vasthānam || 1.3 ||

*4 PYS: हेयं दुःखमनागतम् ॥ २.१६ ॥  heyaṃ duḥkhamanāgatam || 2.16 ||


#%it Happens


#%it Happens

It was our first live, in-person event in Tokyo in over half a year and everyone was excited to finally practice some yoga physically in the same room together. In fact, for some joiners, it would be nearly three years since we last met face-to-face.

So, Saturday morning we made our way bursting with anticipation ready to finally kick off the event. We arrived at the entrance to the building and it looked deserted. It was dark and cold and even the 24/7 convenience store on the main floor was shut.  It seemed as though our opening day to our much-awaited event was about to be thwarted by a power outage. Now, for those of you who have lived in Japan, you know that power outages are virtually unheard of (see graph 1). But, I guess we made the Gods laugh by making our plans.

What a way to start. The elevators were down, the lights were off and the all-important security card, which we needed to open the doors once we climbed up to the sixth floor, would not work.  We were stuck. Excited participants started arriving at the entrance but the automatic doors would of course not open. Those planning to join online for the hybrid session were anxiously waiting to get in but no electricity meant no WI-FI and hence no ZOOM.

So, yes, #%it happened. But what happened next was inspiring.

No complaints, no frustration. Just everyone banding together to find a way to make the best of the situation.  The building attendant managed to find an old, physical key to get us into a lobby area that was connected to a long, clean, carpeted hallway with adjoining meeting rooms boasting large windows. Participants made their way up six flights of stairs in the dark, lugging their yoga mats and gear. And from there, everyone made it work. Together we converted the space into our very own make-shift studio with some spectacular natural lighting.

We had fortunately thrown into one of our backpacks a fully charged, back-up pocket WIFI. So, as we were all getting settled into the make-shift studio, those joining online were able to settle into ZOOM.  And voilà, just 30 minutes later than scheduled, the opening session was underway. No one was going to allow a little issue like no electricity ruin our event!

For so many of us busy bodies with overflowing task lists and unforgivingly tight schedules, a train delay, traffic on the road, or generally anything that gets in the way of things not going the way we planned, can be huge causes of consternation and stress.

But the stuff that really sticks out in life, the memories we often cherish most and revel in sharing, are the ones when something extraordinary happened. In this case, I mean literally something that was out of the ordinary like something unexpected or unplanned.  Just think about some of your fondest memories from your travels. Perhaps you walked off the beaten trail to discover some breathtaking scenery or a tiny, locally-run restaurant that doesn’t show up on Google Maps or in any of the travel guides. Or perhaps you encountered a problem – you got lost or sick – and a local or fellow-traveler was there to lend a hand.

It is easier to accept these ‘happenings’ when we are out of our regular routine like when on vacation but what if we could find some meaning and joy even in our daily lives when our regular schedule is so rudely interrupted by something unplanned?  And, what if we could create a body and mind that were more adept and more receptive to not just remaining calm in these circumstances but actually making the most out of them?

I can already hear you saying that the answer is a resounding YES! And, if you’ve read some of my other blogs, you already know that yoga and meditation are here to support these endeavors to create a more adept, receptive, and resilient body and mind.

Now, here’s some scientific evidence that may help to make you a real believer.

Functional MRI (left) showing activation in the amygdala when participants were watching images with emotional content before learning meditation. After eight weeks of training in mindful attention meditation (right) note the amygdala is less activated after the meditation training.
Source: The Harvard Gazette (4/9/2018)

The data shows that after just 8 weeks of daily meditation practice the activity of the region of the brain that responds to stressful stimuli – the amygdala – is less activated. In other words, after the practice of meditation, the brain is more resilient to being pushed and pulled around. And that’s just after 8 weeks.

Dr. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, found that among participants who spent an average of 27 minutes per day over eight weeks practicing mindfulness exercises, there was a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness. The brain actually got heavier!

There are plenty of more great studies if you are interested but what I hope you take away with after reading this is that there are two excellent ways to help you be better prepared for ‘happenings’ in life.

First, it’s all about perspective. Get comfortable with and, if possible, revel in the fact that much if not all of life is beyond our control. It’s usually not the end of the world if the power goes out for a while or your train is a few minutes late or you are not able to check off all of the items on your ‘to do’ list. There is more to this marvelous, mysterious life we’ve been given.

Second, cultivate a body, brain and mind that are much better equipped to carry you through life’s ‘happenings’, big and small, allowing you to maintain a level-head and right perspective in these situations. This will make you much more present and more able to make the best out of whatever comes your way. The how is here and waiting for you. Now, it’s just about the when.

Values are for 2015. The value for Japan is the total of 10 power companies.
The value for the US is the total of the summer peak.
Source: “Overseas Electric Power Industry Statistic” (2016 Edition), Japan Electric Power Information Center











しかし、人生において本当に大切なもの、大切にしている思い出、そして他の人と共有する喜びは、何か特別な事が起きた時に得られるものでもあります。今回のような予期せぬ予定外の事等、日常からかけ離れた事がそれを意味します。 旅先での楽しい思い出を改めて思い浮かべて見てください。Googleマップや旅行ガイドは教えてくれないような美しい風景や、地元の小さなレストランを見つけるために、人里離れた道を歩いた経験はありませんか?もしかすると道に迷ったり、旅先で体調が優れなかった時、地元の人やたまたまそばに居合わせた旅行者が手を差し伸べてくれた経験がある人もいるでしょう。

もし私たちが日常生活の中で、予定外の出来事によって日常生活が突然中断されたとしても、そこに意味や喜びを見出す事ができるとしたらどうでしょう? そのような状況下でも落ち着き、その状況を最大限に活用できるような、より熟練した受容力のある身体と心を持ち合わせてみたいと思いませんか?

皆さんの口から、「YES 」という答えが聞こえてきそうです。そして、私の他のブログを読んでくださっている方は、ヨガと瞑想が、さらに熟練した、受容力と回復力のある身体と心を作るための努力をサポートしてくれる事をすでにご存じだと思います。


(左)瞑想学習前 / (右)8週間のマインドフルネス瞑想学習後






その方法はここにあり、 あなたを待っています。あとは、いつやるかだけですね。


Values are for 2015. The value for Japan is the total of 10 power companies. The value for the US is the total of the summer peak.
Source: “Overseas Electric Power Industry Statistic” (2016 Edition), Japan Electric Power Information Center

All Moments Are Fleeting. Let them fleet…


All Moments Are Fleeting. Let them fleet…

The Yogis tell us that each moment in life is an opportunity for us to see ourselves. For most of us, there is an overpowering attachment to the moments we most enjoy and, conversely, an overpowering revulsion to the moments we most dislike. The rest of the moments fall along a spectrum of pleasure-attachment and displeasure-avoidance. And we spend much of our lives oscillating between these two sides.

Unfortunately, clinging to these moments or trying to recapture those that have long since passed us by, is a sure-fire path to misery and suffering. Even if we do re-experience that moment of pleasure – that great meal, that stimulating conversation, that brilliant moment of success – it is doomed again to melt away into the abyss we call past or memory, wherever and whatever that may actually be.

That is why yoga philosophy puts so much emphasis on the practice of ‘aparigraha’ (non-attachment) and ‘vairagya’ (renunciation).

But the very same philosophy tells us that we are here to experience the world around us  (*1 prakāśakriyāsthitiśīlaṃ bhūtendriyātmakaṃ bhogāpavargārthaṃ dṛśyam) and that through this process, we are able to once again see our true selves; to reunite (yoga) with and abide in our true nature or Higher Self (*2 tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe ‘vasthānam).

As we often find with yoga philosophy, what seems like a paradox is actually the key to finding what we are looking for. 

Here’s a simple way to look at this:

  1. We need to experience, really fully and completely experience, life. That means concentrating and fighting the urge to be distracted by smartphones, SNS, bright lights, shiny objects, how green the grass appears on the other side and the loudest barking dog, whether that be a company or a person.
  2. However, we must do so keeping in mind that the moment is fleeting and is meant to be so.  In fact, clinging to the experience is antithetical to fully experiencing the present moment. You can’t be free and cling at the same time. Just watch a free falling skydiver if you don’t believe me!
  3. We observe ourselves to see if (or rather, when) we are becoming attached to the moments, whether that be chasing those pleasures (*3 sukhānuśayī rāgaḥ) or avoiding pain (*4  duḥkhānuśayī dveṣaḥ).
  4. By observing ourselves, we get to know ourselves a bit better. Just picture how children observe and get to know their parents and the world around them. We need only do the same – with openness, curiosity and no judgment – but shift the observation to the internal world.
  5. By adding a little practice of letting go of that which does not serve us, we inch our way closer to our true Self.

It’s not easy to overcome our very human need to attach. This is our innate way of finding stability, security and comfort. We get attached as babies to the caregivers who make eating, drinking and getting clean a possibility. And attachment continues through childhood and into adulthood as we look to fulfill our needs for financial stability, social acceptance and so much more.

However just because it is not easy, doesn’t mean we can’t make a go of it. We can definitely move the bar with even a little bit of effort. And there’s no rush to get it all done in one day.

Start with the realization that all moments are fleeting. This fact doesn’t make the moment less important or lesser in any way.  Experience it fully and then watch yourself as you let the moment dissipate. After all, fleeting moments were meant to ‘fleet’. So let them.

*1 Patanjali Yoga Sutras (PYS) II.18

*2 PYS I.3

*3 PYS II.7

*4 PYS II.8






自分を取り巻く世界を経験し (※1 prakāśakriyāsthitiśīlaṃ bhūtendriyātmakaṃ bhogāpavargārthaṃ dṛśyam)、その経験を通じて本当の自分、すなわち魂に繋がり(YOGA)、その状態を維持していくのだと。(※2 tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe ‘vasthānam)



  1. 私たちは、与えられた人生を、全うしなければなりません。つまり、スマートフォンやSNS、きらきらと眩しく見える物、青く見える隣の芝生ばかりに気を取られている時間はないのです。
  2. しかし、忘れてはならないこと、それは全ての瞬間は儚いものだということ。人生を全うしようと体験にしがみつくことは、一瞬一瞬を完全に体験することと相反しています。空中を落下するスカイダイバーを思い浮かべるときっと分かりやすいと思うのですが、自由である事と、しがみつく事を同時に行うのは不可能なのです。
  3. 快楽を追い求めていないか(※3 sukhānuśayī rāgaḥ)、苦しみを避けていないか(※4 duḥkhānuśayī dveṣaḥ)、その瞬間に執着していないか、自分を観察しましょう。
  4. 自分を観察することで、私たちは自身を少しずつ知り始めます。子供が親や周りの世界を観察し、理解していくように。オープンな姿勢で、好奇心をもって、「こうだ」と始めから決めつけることなく、観察する対象を自分の内面に移すだけでいいのです。
  5. 自分に必要のないものを手放す練習を少し加えることで、本当の自分自身に近づく道が少しずつ見えてきます。




*1 Patanjali Yoga Sutras (PYS) II.18

*2 PYS I.3

*3 PYS II.7

*4 PYS II.8

The Stories We Tell Ourselves


The Stories We Tell Ourselves

I was teaching a class this morning to people new to the world of mindfulness and yoga. As I do in most of these cases, I started by introducing the concept of ‘unseen patterns’ or what the yogis described in Sanskrit as vritti.

Now, the interesting thing about these ‘unseen patterns’ is that even though we don’t see them, they have a very real impact on our lives – how we sit and stand, move, interact with others, and, as we’ll get to in a moment, how we experience life.

The only way we can start to see these patterns is when someone (or we,ourselves) points them out.  Until then, we are virtually oblivious to them.  Unless, we’ve been training ourselves to catch them.  The intro classes I teach are at first about tuning into our physical patterns – such as slouching shoulders or shallow breathing – and then undoing these patterns.

These unseen patterns become all the more interesting (and insidious) when they affect our minds.  A simple example of this is what we call ‘the stories we tell ourselves’.  We all have them. These narratives that go round and round in our minds, occupying our time and taking us out of the present and away from who or what is in front of us here and now.

Most of us spend an inordinate amount of time engaged in self-talk and repetitive stories. We may keep telling ourselves that we are not good enough or do not deserve success / happiness / love / friends / a job we enjoy / etc. These stories may have to do with insecurities related to body image, personality, intelligence or other personal characteristics. Or they may take the form of the all-too-common ‘so and so’s life is so much better than my life.’

The story may also seem positive and affirming. “I am good. I am worthy. I am this. I did that.” These stories are, on the surface, less painful than the ‘negative’ ones we often have swirling in our heads. However, if we spend much of our day, time and focus affirming and reaffirming these ‘positive’ patterns, we are still being pulled out of the here and now. These may be a mechanism of protecting ourselves and so may actually be hindering personal change and growth.

Being stuck in any repeating story means that we lose out on the moment. We are unable to be present for what is in front of us and to experience it purely, without our filters and baggage.

So, what’s the solution?

  1. See the pattern – or have someone / a good guide help you!
  2. Shift the pattern – from negative to positive, as a first step, may be helpful
  3. Drop the pattern – or more aptly, allow it to dissipate

What are the stories you tell yourself? 


The Stories We Tell Ourselves

今朝、初めてマインドフルネスやヨガの世界に触れる人たちに、あるクラスを教えていました。 私はこのような場合「見えないパターン」、つまりヨギたちがサンスクリット語で「ヴリッティ」と表現するものの概念を紹介することからクラスをスタートしています。


このようなパターンは、誰かに(あるいは私たち自身に)指摘されることで、初めて気付くようなものです。そのパターンを捉える訓練を積んでいれば話は別なのですが、指摘されるまで私たちはほとんど意識することなく過ごしています。 ですから私が教えるイントロクラスではまず、猫背、浅い呼吸に気づき、それを取り除くことから始めます。

このような目に見えないパターンが私たちの心に現れるのは興味深い事ですが、厄介なものにもなる事があります。 例えば、私たちは皆「自分の心が勝手に作り上げたストーリー」を持っているのです。このストーリーが心の中でぐるぐると回り始めると、私たちの時間を奪い、今目の前にあるものや人の事を忘れてしまうのです。


また、時にそのストーリーは前向きで肯定的なものに聞こえます。「私は大丈夫。私には価値がある。」 といったように。なぜならば表面的には、私たちが頭の中でループさせている「ネガティブ」な話のように重くのしかかってこないからです。しかし、もし私たちが一日中、これらの「ポジティブ」なパターンを肯定し、再確認する事ばかりに時間を費やしているのなら、これもまた「今ここ」から引き離されている事となるでしょう。これらは、自分自身を守るためのメカニズムでもあり、実際には個人の変化や成長を妨げている可能性があるのです。



  1. パターンを見る – あるいは、あなたにとって良い助言者を持つ!
  2. パターンをシフトする – ネガティブからポジティブへ。最初の一歩としてきっと役に立ってくれるはずです!
  3. パターンを削除する – より正確には、それが消えていくように!


The 5 States of Mind  ~Where is your mind today?~


The 5 States of Mind 

~Where is your mind today?~

In his exposition of the Yoga Sutras,the venerable sage Vyasa teaches us about the 5 states of the mind.   We will get into why knowledge of these states is important and how this knowledge can be useful in our daily lives but first, let’s look at what they are:

  1. Kshipta = Disturbed → When the mind is restless or troubled, it is said to be in this, the lowest or most undesirable of the mental states. It is not simply distracted (vikshipta) but agitated and possibly even chaotic. There can be varying degrees of agitation but they are generally associated with intense, negative feelings.
  2. Mudha = Dull → This mind is heavy and listless. Unlike the kshipta disturbed mind, there is no running around. Instead, this state of mind is present when we are lethargic and not motivated to do anything.  Since this mind is somewhat settled compared to the kshipta distrubed state, it is easier to train and move it to a more desirable state.
  3. Vikshipta = Distracted → This is the ‘monkey mind’ state, where we are able to notice the fluctuations of the mind. It is generally distracted in this state although from time-to-time, it becomes steady and focused.  The mind in this state gets very easily distracted however we can draw it back to focus on a task or activity. When we sit in meditation and finally observe ourselves, this is the mind that we first encounter. The vikshipta mind is foundational as we begin our yoga, meditation and mindfulness journey with our practice gradually taking us to the two most desirable mental states.
  4. Ekagra = One-pointed → When we have trained our mind to finally be focused on one point, the real yoga can begin. When we are one-pointed, we are no longer distracted by internal processes such as memories and emotions nor by the external environment (PYS I.32). In this state we are fully present to fulfill all of our duties yet we do not get involved or distracted by them. Ekagara or focus is what we aim to cultivate through our various yoga and meditation techniques.
  5. Nirodhah = Mastered → This is the state Patanjali uses to define yoga: “yoga chitta vritti nirodhah”, yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. This level of control is something that can only be experienced through abhyas (practice, effort) and vairagyam (letting go). This state is often misunderstood as suppressing the mind or detaching from the world. But in fact, through mastering the mind, one becomes able to focus deeply inward. The ancient yogis tell us that even though this state is impossible to describe, once you experience it, you know it.

Knowing where your mind is NOW

Helps you to get to where you are going.

Know Thyself!

Understanding these states allows us to better recognize them in ourselves.  It’s like when you know that your lethargic body doesn’t need rest but rather a brisk walk outside in some fresh air and a shot of sunlight to feel better.

When you see that your mind is overactive (kshipta), you can take steps such as using a calming nadi shodana (alternate nostril) breathing practice to settle it down.

Similarly, if you catch your mind being dull (mudha), you can use some physical yoga (asana) or powerful breathing like kapala bhati (shining forehead) to reinvigorate the mind.

When you find yourself being distracted easily (vikshipta), you may want to try the mind-focusing technique of trataka candle meditation.

As observing the mind becomes second nature, you become more attuned to your mental state and better skilled at moving into the two most desired states of ekagra and, eventually, nirodhah

And nirodhah is, in turn, the doorway to really knowing thyself (self-realization).

Your journey begins NOW. Where is your mind?

The 5 States of Mind

~Where is your mind today?~


聖者ヴィヤーサ師はパタンジャリのヨガスートラに書かれている心理状態について解説しています。ヴィヤーサによれば心理状態には5つあります。 私たちがこれらを知る事がなぜ重要なのか、そしてこの知識が日常生活でどのように役立つのか、まずはこの5つの心理状態について見ていきましょう。

  1. Kshipta = 不安・困惑・動揺・心配

    → 心が落ち着かない、または悩んでいる時の精神状態であり、単に気が散っている(vikshipta)のではなく、動揺しており、場合によっては混沌としている事さえあるため、最も望ましくない状態とも言えます。動揺のレベルは様々ですが、一般的には非常に強い否定的な感情を伴っている事があります。
  1. Mudha = 気だるい・冴えない・どんよりとした・退屈

    → 心が重く、元気がない時の精神状態。kshiptaのようにそわそわと落ち着きのない心の状態とは異なり、無気力で何もやる気が起きない時の心の状態です。kshiptaの状態に比べ、この心はある程度落ち着いた状態であるため、訓練によって望ましい状態へと移行させる事が、比較的容易です。
  1. Vikshipta = 注意力散漫

    → これは正に「モンキーマインド」の状態。時折、安定した集中力を発揮するものの、一般的に非常に気が散りやすく、心ここにあらずの状態です。 私たちはその心を引き戻し、仕事や活動に集中させることができます。目を閉じて静かに座って瞑想をする時、最初に訪れるのがこの”vikshipta”(ヴィークシプタ)マインドです。この心は、ヨガ・瞑想・マインドフルネスの旅を始めるにあたって基礎となるもので、練習によって徐々に最も望ましい2つの精神状態へと導かれていきます。

  2. Ekagra = 一点集中

    →ここまで達してようやく本当のヨガが始まります。一点に集中できた時、私たちはもはや記憶や感情等の内的プロセスにも、外部環境にも気を取られることはない(パタンジャリヨガスートラ I.32より)。この状態に入ると、他の物に自分のペースを乱されたり、気を取られたりする事はありません。一点に集中する事”ekagara”は、私たちが様々なヨガや瞑想のテクニックを通して養う事ができます。

  3. Nirodhah = マスターした状態

    →パタンジャリがヨガを定義するときに使う状態です。「yoga chitta vritti nirodhah」、ヨガとは心の揺らぎを止める事。このレベルのコントロールは、アビヤース(修行、努力)とヴァイラーギヤ(手放すこと)によってのみ経験できるもの。この状態は、感情の抑制や世間からの距離を置くような事と誤解されがちですが、実際には、心を支配することによって、人は内側に深く集中する事ができるようになるのです。古代のヨギー達は、この状態を説明する事はできないが、たった一度でも経験する事ができれば知り得るものだ、と伝えてくれています。

Knowing where your mind is NOW

Helps you to get to where you are going.



Know Thyself! 自分自身を知ろう!



同様に、自分の心が気だるく元気のない”mudha”を感じたら、身体を使ったヨガ(asana)や「kapala bhati(輝く額)」のような力強い呼吸法が、心の活性化に役立ちます。





The Power to CULTIVATE ~How to create the Body, Breath & Mind That You Want~


Look around and everyday you can find ordinary examples of the extraordinary power of Nature:  tsunamis and typhoons, blizzards and wildfires, earthquakes and eruptions. But Mother Nature’s power is not just relegated to these temporary disasters. She also plays the long game by exuding a soft power:

The precise balance of sun, rain, gravity, gasses in the air, nutrients in the soil, etc. creates the environment that sustains the immense variety of life on our planet.

The seamless interplay of oxygen-releasing plants and oxygen-inhaling beings in the animal kingdom. How serendipitous that the carbon dioxide we release gets recycled through plants to yet again provide both the oxygen and the carbohydrates (leaves, grains, fruits, nuts and seeds) that power our bodies and our brains.

The Power of ‘Cultivation’

Nature is a model of power that can teach us a great deal about the power of cultivation.  Just think about the amazing process from seed to fruit:

  1. We plant a cherry seed
  2. Nurture it with the right amount of sunlight, water, fertilizer
  3. The seed germinates and sprouts
  4. A stem and leaves appear
  5. Then branches and more leaves
  6. Then a flower bud which blooms when the conditions are just right
  7. And finally the beginnings of a fruit which will grow and ripen into the cherry we devour

Now what if we could harness this power of cultivation to grow the body, breath, and mind we want?  Well, we can and we actually do this all of the time. 

Athletes, professional and amateur alike, train their bodies. Scientists, educators, artists, mathematicians, mechanics, bakers, butchers and bartenders train their bodies and minds to get better at what they do.

In fact, you are training right now! The way you sit, the position of your head, the tightness in your jaw, the length (or lack of) in your spine and the depth (or shallowness) of your breath while reading this article are all patterns you are actively albeit unconsciously promoting. 

This process of cultivating is happening around us and within us all of the time. However for most of us, a large chunk of this process is taking place under the radar.  

We unconsciously, and hence unknowingly, 

create and cultivate physical and mental patterns 

that are often the antithesis of the qualities we hope to display

The good news is that we can take control of this process right here and now!  

Cultivating ‘Conscious Cultivation’ 

The act of cultivating requires a:

  1. ‘Stress’ or Challenge – the energy or fire to break & change current habits/patterns
  2. Natural Progression – a bud only open when it is the right time to bloom. Similarly, we need to restrain from pushing or stressing too hard.
  3. Routine – regular practice to instill the new direction or pattern. Increase time spent in the new pattern while decreasing time spent in the old one

And to consciously cultivate we need to add Awareness

Awareness is the key ingredient that ensures we are actively choosing to do the above:

Challenging just enough in the right direction and with consistency

to make the pattern we select take hold smoothly and efficiently.

So cultivating Awareness is a great strategy to ultimately cultivate the body, breath and mind you want.  

The bad news is that Inertia is a powerful force to reckon with.  So there is a mental and physical effort required to change your habits.  But we all know that and feel that.

The good news, however, is plentiful:

  1. You CAN change 
  2. You can change at any time and at any age – incredible research in the field of neuroplasticity has confirmed that we retain the ability to change our brain structurally and functionally at any age. It is never too late!
  3. The physical results can be felt immediately – just take a very deep breath now and notice the change you feel.  Clasp your hands together, lift them up in the air, point the palms to the ceiling and reach as high as you can for just a few seconds. You can feel the lightness and release in your shoulders.
  4. Even deeper, mental changes can be experienced quickly – Harvard researchers using functional MRI technology were astonished to find that people who meditated for just 8 weeks demonstrated beneficial gray matter changes in the hippocampus and amygdala regions of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. (full article)
  5. The power is in your hands – you don’t need to wait for others to start cultivating changes in your body, breath and mind

It’s Time

So what do you want to change? What patterns do you want to promote and train in yourself?

Before you look to polish up your skills, or learn a language or musical instrument, create a solid foundation.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Practice deep breathing – let’s get more oxygen to those cells, muscles, and organs!
  2. Keep better posture – sitting is hard enough on the body so let’s not make it worse by sitting in a posture that shoots the pelvis into a posterior tilt, rounding our backs, caving in the chest and shoulders and ultimately causing neck pain and constricted breathing.
  3. Take a moment each morning to greet the Sun – starting the day with an appreciation for the fact that you’ve been given another day to explore and experience the world helps puts things in perspective
  4. Take time for yourself – we spend an inordinate amount of time out there doing things external, looking at screens, focusing on other people. By taking time for yourself, you will be better able to see the habits you have unconsciously created and you will give yourself a chance to decide which new patterns you want to actively train
  5. Cultivate Silence and learn to appreciate it – if you want peace of mind, you need to cut through the noise. Silence is space. Silence is calm. Yet most of us are not comfortable with silence. In fact, we even use the expression ‘awkward silence’.  Train yourself to love Silence and you will be able to find peace wherever you go and whatever the circumstance.

If you play the long game like Mother Nature, you will find that cultivating with awareness will not only change your body, breath and mind, it will make you an expert at cultivating.  Cultivating will become second nature and so future cultivating requires progressively less effort. 

You can master inertia. You can transform. And through this process, you may come to realize that you are the architect of your life.  

The Power to Cultivate is in your hands. Now, it’s up to you.

The Power to CULTIVATE: 自分を養う







自然は、私たちに「養う力」について多くを教えてくれるお手本です。 そこでサクランボが実るまでの過程を通じて自然の驚異について考えてみましょう。

  1. サクランボの種を植えます
  2. 適量の日光、水、肥料を与えます
  3. 種が発芽し芽が出ます
  4. 茎と葉も出てきます
  5. その後、枝分かれを繰り返し葉が茂り始めます
  6. 花芽が作られ、条件が整うと花が咲くでしょう
  7. 最後に、果実が成長し、熟し、美味しいサクランボになるのです













  1. ストレスをかける、またはチャレンジする


  1. 自然な流れに無理に逆らわない


  1. 毎日の習慣にする


そして、意識的に自分を養うために忘れてはならないのは「Awareness 気づき」を加える事です。



Awareness 気づき」を養う事は、最終的にあなたが望む身体、呼吸、心を育むための素晴らしい戦略とも言えます。 



  1. あなたは変わることができる 
  2. いつでも、何歳でも、変わることができる


  1. 身体的な変化をすぐに感じることができる


  1. さらに深く、精神的な変化を体験することができる


  1. すべてはあなたの手の中にある





  1. 深呼吸を練習する



  1. 毎朝、太陽に挨拶をする時間を持つ


  1. 自分のための時間を確保する


  1. 静寂の心地よさを感じ、感謝することを学ぶ

心の安らぎを求めるなら、雑音を断ち切る必要があります。静寂は空間であり、落ち着きです。しかし私たちの多くは、「気まずい沈黙」という表現を使う程それを避ける傾向があります。 静寂を愛する自分になれれば、どこにいても、どんな状況でも、穏やかさを見出す事ができるようになります。





The Philosopher King & the Sage with “8 Bends”


*Scroll down for English

昔、ジャナカという有名な王がいた。 彼は慈悲深い王で、力がありながらも愛にあふれている王だった。 彼は、スピリチュアルなことに深い関心を持っていたので、「哲学者の王」とも呼ばれていた。


「王様、起きてください!起きて! 敵の王とその兵士が王国に侵入しました!  今にも王宮の門を破ってくるでしょう、逃げてください!」

一刻の猶予もなく、秘密の通路から逃げ出したジャナカは、迫り来る敵兵から離れてジャングルの奥深くまで全力で走った。 走りに走って、気がつくと食料も水も金もない異国の地にいた。

疲れ果て、飢えと渇きに襲われていた彼は、ジャングルの中に小さな村があるのを見つけた。 裕福な人が貧しい人たちに食べ物や水を配っていたので、ジャナカは必死になって列に加わった。何時間も待った後、やっと列の先頭にたどり着いたが、「もう食べ物はありません」と言われてしまった。 

空腹に耐えられず、その場を立ち去ろうとすると、店員が鍋の底を削り、残った部分をバナナの葉に乗せて、ジャナカに差し出した。 そして彼は、自分が不幸で悲惨な状況に置かれているにもかかわらず、このわずかな残飯を手に入れたことに喜びを感じていた。 






その時、ジャナカは気がついた。 敵に襲われたことも、ジャングルに逃げ込んだことも、飢えや苦しみも、わずかな残飯やイノシシも、すべては夢だったのだ。全部、夢だったのだ。

しかし、彼はそれがすべて現実だという感覚を拭い去ることができなかった。 何しろ、現実味を帯びていたのだ。襲われるという恐怖を感じた。飢えと渇きを感じ、村を見つけて安堵した。食べ物がないことを知ったときの悲しみ、給仕が食べ残しを見つけてくれたときの喜び、そしてイノシシに唯一の糧を奪われたときの失望と苦悩まで現実そのものだった。


「私は自分が乞食であることを夢見た王なのか? それとも、自分が王であることを夢見た乞食なのか?」







アシュタバクラは尋ねた。「全てはここにありますか? 飢え、渇き、恐れは? ないでしょう!」


しかし、アシュタバクラはさらにこう言いました。「そうはいかないよ、ジャナカ王。あなたが逃げ回っているとき、空腹と渇きと恐怖を感じていたとき、あなたの王宮はあなたと一緒でしたか? 衛兵はいましたか? 金や豪華な服を身につけていましたか? 違うでしょう!」


「あの時も今も、そこにもここにも存在しているもの、それが現実なのです。そして、それは何なのか? Tat Tvam Asi!  梵我一如です! あなたがジャングルに逃げ込んだとき、イノシシがあなたの食べ物をこぼしたとき、あなたはそこにいませんでしたか? そして、あなたはここで派手な服を着て、豪華な宮殿で快適に安心して過ごしているのではないでしょうか?」



The Philosopher King & the Sage with “8 Bends”

There once was a King named Janaka.  He was a beloved king, powerful yet benevolent.  He was also known as the “ Philosopher King” for he had a deep interest in spiritual matters.

It so happened that one night after Janaka went off to sleep, he was suddenly awakened by his security guard…

“My King, wake up, wake up!  The enemy king and his soldiers have invaded the kingdom!  They will breach the gates at the royal palace any moment now,  You must flee!”

Without a moment to spare, Janaka escaped out of a secret passage and ran as fast as he could deep into the jungle and far from the enemy soldiers closing in.  He ran and ran and, before he realized it, found himself in a foreign land without food, water or gold. 

He was exhausted, starving and thirsty when he came upon a clearing in the jungle where stood a tiny village.  A wealthy man was handing out food and water to the poor and so, desperate and without any other options, Janaka joined the queue. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity , he finally reached the front of the line… only to be told that there was  no food left.

Heartbroken and hunger-struck, he was about to turn away when the server scraped the bottom of the pot, put the remaining bits on a banana leaf and offered it to Janaka.  He was elated even to have these measly scraps given his unfortunate and dire situation.

Janaka sat down to finally put some food in his hunger-pained belly when suddenly two wild boars burst into the clearing and in their chasing and fighting stomped on Janaka’s food, spilling it onto the ground. 

He couldn’t take it any more. Janaka fell to the ground and began to cry. 

“Oh Lord, why have you forsaken me?”

Janaka then opened his eyes to find he was back in his bed at the royal palace with his loyal guard at his bedside.

“What is wrong, my King?”

At that moment, it dawned upon Janaka.  It was all a dream – the enemy attack, escaping into the jungle, the hunger and pain, the measly scraps and the wild boars. All of it, a dream.

But he could not shake the feeling that it was all so real.  After all, it felt real. He felt the fear of being attacked. He felt the hunger and thirst and then the relief after finding the village. He felt the sorrow after finding out there was no food, the joy when the server found him some scraps and again disappointment and distress when the boars ruined his only chance at sustenance.

The King became engrossed in the thought: “Is this real or is that?”

“Am I a King who dreamt he was a beggar?  Or am I a beggar who dreams he is a King?

Day in, day out, Janaka was fixated on this question. He could not eat or sleep or carry out the duties of a King. His family and friends were all worried for their dear, once powerful and revered King. 

Janaka posed the question ‘is this real or is that?’ to all of his spiritual advisors and accomplished scholars but none could answer to his satisfaction.

Then one day, as fate would have it, the boy Sage with the 8 bends, Ashtavakra, came to visit the King’s court.

Again Janaka posed the question: ‘is this real or is that?’

Ashtavakra replied: “that which is real is unchanging and ever-present”.

Janaka wanted confirmation. “When I was on the run, I could feel hunger, I could feel thirst; I was fearful for my life. It all felt so real”.

Ashtavakra inquired: “Are those all here now? That hunger, thirst and fear? No!

Janaka was relieved “Ah, so that was not real! Thank the Gods, I am a King. This is real!”

But Ashtavakra had more to say on this: “Not so fast, King Janaka. When you were on the run, feeling hungry, thirsty and scared, was your royal palace with you? Was your guard there? Was your gold and your fancy clothes with you? No!”

Janaka was starting to see that there was more to this inquiry than meets the eye. “You are right, when I was there, none of these things were with me. So none of these are real either. But then tell me, oh wise one, what then is real?”

“That which was present then and now, there and here; that is what is real. And what is that, you wonder?  Tat Tvam Asi! That thou art!”  

“Were you not there when you were escaping into the jungle and when the wild boars caused your food to spill?  And are you not here in your fancy clothes, comfortable and secure in your glorious palace?”

“The self that illuminates both alone, is real. The one that remains awake, and is witness to both, your dream and your wakefulness, is real. That is the true you, oh Janaka, that is your true Self.”                                                          

Janaka, being a gifted and spiritually-minded soul, meditated upon Ashtavakra’s explanation. His confusion all washed away.  And, Janaka transformed into an even better King, eternally immersed in the knowledge of his true Self.

Practicing Happiness ~5 Practical Ingredients for Your Happiness Recipe~

*Scroll down for English


シーソーが身体をぐいっと押し上げてくれる時のように、瞬く間に頂点に達するような心地良い幸福感を味わえたかと思えば、それが一瞬で押し戻され不安の渦の中 – 恐れ・ジェラシー・不安・怒り・落ち込み等 – へ放り込まれるような心のざわつきは誰でも経験することです。





By keeping the fluttering mind somewhat restrained,

we open up the door for happiness and contentment to enter. 

By keeping the right company, 

we increase our chances of making this a habit.







#1. 幸せを習慣にする


#2. 自分の幸せは、外では見つからない




What made you happy was 

being fully present with the moment 

so that you could experience it to its fullest.




#3. タスクだけをこなしてゴールを急ぐ必要はない


終わりのないTo Doリストに振り回されていると、生活が何となく落ち着かなくなる事があります。仕事への取り組み方、食事のスピード、旅先での過ごし方、会話の運び方等。


#4. 愚痴をやめましょう!



#5.  Sanga(サンガ): 正しい仲間とのつながりを大切に




Practicing Happiness

~5 Practical Ingredients for Your Happiness Recipe~

We all want happiness, we all strive for happiness and yet it seems so elusive and fleeting.  

One moment we are on top of the world – everything feels just right and we are in our ‘zone’.  Yet the next moment, fear, envy, insecurity or their energy-sucking siblings anger, frustration, anxiety find their way in and squeeze out the happiness.

What’s with this see-saw battle and how can we tip it in favor of happiness?

Since we experience happiness as intermittent, we tend to think that it just comes and goes on its own.  But the Ancients recognized that happiness can be practiced. 

They realized that creating routines such as waking up early, sitting and meditating under the morning sun, bathing in the early morning river, and performing rites and rituals at various times of the day could help to focus the human mind; and that that focus could in turn help to keep the all-too-human negativities, fears, anxieties and more at bay.  

They emphasized going inwards – contemplation, meditation, listening to your inner voice – and made time for this endeavour.

And they experienced the support of sanga or ‘community’, which afforded them new insights, helpful hints and, perhaps most importantly, constant reminders of the goal and the importance of practice in getting there.

In short:

By keeping the fluttering mind somewhat restrained,

we open the door for happiness and contentment to enter. 

By keeping the right company, 

we increase our chances of instilling this habit.

So how does this help us here and now? Cook up your own batch of happiness!

While there is no one “Happiness Recipe” for all, here are my 5 Practical Ingredients you may want to add to your recipe. 

1. Realize that happiness can be practiced

This cannot be emphasized enough!  If you think that just so-called ‘happy people’ are entitled to happiness or that happiness comes and goes on its own, then all hope is lost and you are stuck where you are just grinding it out.  On the contrary, once you realize that happiness is in your hands, your whole outlook and your actions will change to fit the new paradigm.

2. Understand that your happiness is not out there in things or in other people

You’ve heard it a million times “money can’t buy happiness”.  But do you believe it? And do you live like you believe it?  

Just take a good look at your experiences in life. Which were the moments that brought you ‘real’ happiness, joy and contentment?  If you look carefully, you’ll realize that it wasn’t the things or even the people that made you happy.  It wasn’t the fancy meal at a Michelin star restaurant, nor the 5-star resort overlooking the pristine beach nor even family and friends that made you happy.  

What made you happy was 

being fully present with the moment 

so that you could experience it to its fullest.

And you know this to be true because you have experienced being unhappy even when you had all of the ‘right’ pieces in place – the right hotel, the right restaurant, the right food, the right car, the right house, the right party, the right job, the right partner.  And you have felt lonely and unhappy even when your best friends or family were all around.  

The flipside is that even if all of the ‘right’ pieces or people are not around, you can still be happy.  Because that happiness is not ‘out there’.

3. Don’t rush to finish things or to get to the goal

In our very busy, achievement-oriented, multi-tasking modern world, we get so caught up in rushing to the end that we forget to enjoy the journey.  And the problem with rushing to the end, as we just found out in 2. above, is that gold bars of happiness are not waiting for us in a pot at the end of the rainbow.

Every time we rush to finish, we just end up rushing right into the next thing.  You see it in how most of us lead our lives – in how we work, eat, and travel (got to check off my list of all of the tourist spots!).  And nowadays you see it in how we engage with friends (is this even the right word anymore?) on SNS. We bounce around from one chat to the next, from one notification to the next, from one 2 or 3-second video clip to the next, never really absorbing and experiencing the moment.

But precious moments of life are here to be savoured.  Much like a great meal or a delicious piece of chocolate, if you just gobble it up, the moment is gone.  

Why are you rushing? Where are you going? 

4. Stop Complaining!

One sure-fire way to keep happiness away is to spend your precious time complaining.  The weather is what it is, whether you complain about it or not. People are the way they are. Complaining won’t help change anything but it will use up your time and energy that could otherwise be used for practicing happiness. 

It’s good to be industrious and try to fix things, situations, relationships that aren’t right but try to catch yourself if you are spending an inordinate amount of time (or any amount of time) complaining.  You not only do a disservice to yourself but to those around you. 

And this leads me to ingredient number 5…

5.  Sanga: Keep good Company

It’s always easier to practice something if others around you are doing the same. If everyone around you swears, chances go way up that you will also swear.  If your friends and colleagues are always complaining, you are probably at risk of picking up the habit as well (the perils of which we discovered in 4 above).  If those around are fixated on having things, gravity will pull you in that direction. You’ll have to work a lot harder to maintain your practice of ‘being present’ and ‘experiencing the moment’.

On the other hand, if you find a community that supports practicing happiness, finding happiness within, savouring the moment and not complaining, well, it’s not rocket science, you will find it easier to pursue your practice.

So those are 5 perhaps obvious yet often difficult to maintain tips you can start to implement right away.  It doesn’t actually take much or long before you start seeing the results. And it’s in your hands.

Good luck in your pursuit of happiness and go easy on yourself and others.

*Scroll down for English







愛する人の死や仕事のストレス、世界的なパンデミックや地震などの自然災害が原因で、日常生活や予定していた計画が突然中断してしまうような時、私たちにできる事はあまりないかもしれません。(実際にはあるのですが、それはまた別の機会に!) しかし、自分の持つ思考のクセを知り、どのような視点で物事を捉えるべきかを正しく理解する事ができると、打つ手はいくらでも考えられるのです。




  1. まず、自分が今何を感じているのかを認めて、受け入れてみてください。
  1. その状態を「ネガティブ」とラベリングしていることも認識しておきましょう。それはそれでいいのです。 雲が太陽の光を遮っているのならば、その中でいったん休息を取ってから歩き出せばいいのですから。目の前の問題をすぐに解決しようとせずに、その雲の持つ目的や美しさの中に立ち止まり、自分に起きた物語を振り返ってみましょう。
  1. 長時間ネットサーフィンをし続けていませんか?インターネットは私たちに興味をそそるものを無限に与え続けるため、明確な目的もないままに驚くほど長い時間をそこで費やしてしまいがちです。その事に気がついたら、まず目を閉じて何度か深呼吸をします。そしてそこから完全に離れたら、自分を助けてくれるもの、癒してくれるものに意識を移してみましょう。 好きな音楽を聴くだけでもきっと安らかな気分を感じることができるはずです。
  1. 立ち上がって体を動かしてみましょう!いつもより少しだけ大きく腕を振って散歩に出掛けてみるのもいいですね。沈んだ気持ちや、心の声のループを断ち切るコツは、まずは小さな一歩からで十分。偶然やってきたかのように思える晴れやかな気分や幸運は、あなたの主体的な力(行動)が手に入れたものです!
  1. 自分が感じていることを素直に伝えられる人との繋がりを大切に。良い時もそうでない時も側にいてくれる友人との時間に優るものはありません。ディオンヌ・ワーウィックとスティービー・ワンダーが歌った不朽の名曲「That’s what friends are for」のように





Good Days & Bad Days

We’ve all experienced the good day-bad day phenomenon.  I’m talking about when one day all seems fine and suddenly the next, even though nothing appreciable has changed, something seems off. 

Where does that come from? Have you ever tried to isolate the factors that may have caused this change? 

“Was it something I ate? The time I slept? Perhaps the last conversation I had or that gut-wrenching movie I watched just before bed?”

Or perhaps it is an old narrative that keeps resurfacing – feelings of inadequacy, insecurity or guilt – triggered by being in a certain environment or with certain people?

We all invariably experience these relatively ‘unprovoked’ bad days and changes but when you really think about it, the only thing that has really changed is our mind. Sure, call it perspective or how we look at life, but essentially only something inside of us has shifted.  And knowing this truth is powerful!

When things outside shift around – loved ones get sick or pass away; job stresses become overwhelming; pandemics, earthquakes or other calamities bring our daily lives and plans to an abrupt halt – there may not be a lot we can do (actually there is, but we can get to that another day).  

However, when the shift is inside of us and we recognize that, the solution is firmly in our hands.

First, the very realization that the shift was just inside of us, changes how we feel.  It sounds ridiculously simple but it’s true. Just ask Schrodinger- the very act of observing and recognizing something changes its nature!

Next, by understanding the source (i.e. our mind), we can take advantage of some techniques targeted directly at this source:

  1. Acknowledge and accept that you are feeling whatever you are feeling
  1. Recognize that you are labeling the experience as ‘negative’ whereas there is no need to add a judgement. It is what it is.  Clouds are not negative just because they block the sunshine.  They have purpose and beauty in their own right.
  1. Notice the ‘negative loop’ you unconsciously create by following the rabbit down the rabbit hole and STOP.  Take a few deep breaths and shift your focus to something that helps or soothes you.  Cranking up some favorite tunes may be the best medicine.
  1. Move! Get some exercise. Go for a walk.  Negativity and the negative mental chatter loop thrive when we are sedentary and being lazy. So get up and move around!
  1. Connect with people you can talk to about what you are feeling or even just talk about topics that bring you back in line with a healthy perspective.  In the immortal words sung by Dionne Warwick, “That’s what friends are for”. 

To encourage more good days, make a conscious effort to keep the right company.  As social animals so dependent and influenced by others, the more positive and supportive the environment, the easier it is for us to stay in a good place.  

And finally, practices like meditation and yoga are great ways to create stability and steadfastness inside ourselves so that regardless of the environment, we are better able to stay in this good place.  

But we are human after all and we all fall from time to time.  If these bad day feelings persist and / or interfere with your life, seeking out the help of wonderful professionals may be the way to go.

Eventually, we may be able to go beyond having so-called ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days and instead see them all simply as special moments to explore.