#%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