Japan offers you a "Retreat of the Heart"
I've Found that Japan Allows Me Deep, Unhindered Respite
I read recently about how it is very important to be able to retreat within yourself. Are you able to do that? Do you find peace and calm for retrospection as you walk around, take care of daily tasks or ride a bus?
If you are like me, I bet a lot of the time, you are kind of on alert. One of my friends once told me that I should always be on the alert for someone looking to somehow hurt me, kidnap my kids or trick me into something. I thought about that for a long time, I know that it might be a "smart" way to live, but fortunately, I choose to live differently.
In a way, Japan has helped me in that quest. My friend Adam Fulford wrote about mindfulness and how Japan affords that to us in his article here.
There is something about the history of the country and the demeanor of the Japanese people that allows you to feel a bit more secure than other places. Yes, we know this country is disaster prone and you never know when the next "big one" will hit, but maybe that is one reason why Japanese people are so calm. It is kind of like living in the moment all the time and allowing others to do so too.
When I really want to rest and calm my mind while I am in Japan, I think back to days at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu and how the warm sand would send waves of calm through my back as I lay on my beach towel after a swim in the cool, clear Pacific.
As I drift back to the scents and breezes of those special days, my head tilts lightly against the train window and the vibration of the subway car lulls me deeper into the thought of Hawaii and rest....then on to sleep and then, before I can say "miss my stop" I wake myself up with a relatively large snort snore. I twist around to see the platform we are speeding from was actually two stops past my stop, I have dropped my purse open between my feet on the floor and I am still groggy from my slightly longer than expected power nap.
The train is full of people so someone could have easily reached down into my purse and grabbed my wallet or phone and left the train while I continued to enjoy visions of blue ocean and clear sky. But no one does. No one here does that. Well, maybe one or two people might do that, but it is so rare you truly don't have to think about it....ever!
There is a special sense of calm in Japan, like not having to expect someone to cause or wish you harm. It has been like this the whole time I have been in Japan (almost 30 years) and I hope it lasts a lot longer. So when you come to Japan, along with the experience of healing as you view beautiful forested mountains, eat delicious and healthy washoku Japanese cuisine, lounge in Onsen hot springs, ride efficient train systems and enjoy refreshing cleanliness, you will sense an increased ability to retreat within your mind and soul.
Like I often do, you'll certainly see many Japanese people sound asleep on the train, bus, ship or plane. The precious ability to "retreat" that is afforded by this environment of safety and mindfulness for the other is a truly special aspect of Japan. It almost makes missing your train stop a fun experience!
Just for further reference, here is an interesting video of what happens when someone drops their wallet in Harajuku, Tokyo
Former Deep Japan Writer