Master Of Meditation


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Hello everyone. Did the title of this blog post get you? Sorry, it won’t be about the master of meditation but it will be about my thoughts and experience on meditation. Feel free to keep reading or if you aren’t interested, check out our other posts!!

Anyways, during my sophomore year in college, I had taken a class on religions of the world. Three fourths of the way through the class, there was an assignment that required us students to physically attend a religious event at a site of our choice. My friend, Nancy, and I decided to go to the Zen Meditation session at Bluestone Zen Practice Community (dedicated to the practice of Zen and the fundamentals of Buddhism). I never really thought about how hard meditation could be. It just seemed so easy, having to sit most of the time. After this session and lessons from class, I realized that meditation was more than just having your eyes closed and breathing.

Nancy and I entered the building not knowing what to expect. It was around 7am so there were no lights turned on. Curtains were not put up either so it created darker/dimmed lighting. Candles were lit and it was quiet, but in a way where everything just seemed so soothing and peaceful. The session finally started when it was time. We all sat on a pillow on the floor. There wasn’t much talking at all and so Nancy and I just did our best to follow along. The whole experience was eye opening, showing me that there is so much more to it. Having to clear my mind while meditating was so much harder than I thought. I kept talking to myself in my head and thinking about trying not to think. I just couldn’t seem to clear my mind, and still haven’t mastered it. In the end, I appreciated the art of meditating a lot more. I definitely saw how this could be a really good routine for my body and mind.

After reading the article written by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on lessons from meditating with the Dalai Lama, it made me feel a sense of comfort and happiness. He talked about how he had a personal one-on-one meditation session with the Dalai Lama. The part that I loved from his article was the part where he talked about how the Dalai Lama smiled and laughed while replying back with “After doing daily for 60 years, it is still hard.” I felt so comforted that someone as holy as the Dalai Lama was so sweet and encouraging. The overall article also talked about how Dr. Sanjay Gupta became a changed man because of this experience and the decision of applying what he learned to his everyday life routine.

Giving things a chance before judging was the reminder that came to me after this experience and again, after reading this article. Meditation is a way to calm the mind and help people with their body. It is just so cool to me now because there is such a deep meaning to it, and it helps a person in so many ways. Keeping the body healthy and staying in shape is so important but sometimes we forget to help the mind. Definitely give meditation a try. It won’t be easy but it will definitely benefit and satisfy you.

 

 

I highly recommend you to read Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s article. Click the link below to go directly to the webpage.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/15/health/sanjay-gupta-dalai-lama-meditation/index.html

This Month in Japan | November

November in Japan is a popular time for people to visit parks, shrines, and gardens to witness the changing colors of the leaves. Also, it is a great time to travel to Japan due to the mild and cool weather. There are various events going on in Japan in which people can participate and have a fun time.

Some events being held in Japan during this month is:

Crowds wait their turn to offer prayers at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, on the second day of the new year Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

Crowds wait their turn to offer prayers at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, on the second day of the new year Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

The Japan Times

  • Meiji Shrine Autumn Festival is held at Meiji Shrine in the distrit of Harajuku from Nov 1-3, 2016. It includes a variety of art and sport performances.
  • Kaki Season – “Kaki are an orange Japanese fruit that come into season in November. They are extremely bitter before they ripen. When ripe, they are sweet with a unique citrus-like taste. Kaki and kaki flavored desserts are widely available in Japan in late autumn.” – http://www.japan-talk.com

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The Japan Times

  • Sumo Kyushu Basho is a sumo wrestling tournament that is being held from Nov 13-27, 2016. Click here for more info on the year schedule.
  • Viewing of autumn leaves in public spaces, and a popular time for people to visit cities with wonderful views such as Kyoto, Sapporo, Tokyo, and more.
  • Shrine, temples, and castle visits are also popular during this time of the year, usually from the fall into the winter and January of the next year for ceremonies, holidays, and receiving/giving blessings.

This Month in Japan | July

Fumizuki, a traditional name for July, refers to “book/origin month. The true meaning of the kanji is difficult to decipher. One theory is that fumizuki is a shortened form of hofumizuki, referring to a time when rice becomes ready for harvest. Another possible explanation is that the name is short forfumihirakizuki, meaning to hope for an improvement in one’s calligraphy skills.

July 7 is Tanabata or the Star Festival, that celebrates the meeting of the deities named Orihime and Hikoboshi. The third Monday of the month is Marine Day, commemorating the return of Emperor Meiji to Yokohama port from a boat trip to Hokkaido in 1876.” – Rightful owner

In July, parts of Japan is experiencing the rainy season while other areas will have very hot and sunny weather. Places in higher elevation like Hokkaido will probably have better weather conditions. There are plenty of things to do and lots of festivals to attend throughout Japan. If you are visiting Japan during this month, prepare an umbrella, sunglasses, and light clothing. Here are some things that are happening in July in Japan:

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Geishas during the Gion Matsuri Festival.

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  • Summer in Japan means that there will be tons of festivals being hosted through out the entire month and country.
    • Gion Matsuri is a festival celebration that occurs in Kyoto for the entire month of July! Hosted in Kyoto, this festivals displays 10 to 20 amazing decorative floats. People come to enjoy the sights and foods, but also to buy good luck charms to ward off evil. For more in depth info on the event, location, time, and its history, click here!
      • Tenjin Festival is big festival held in Osaka that showcases fireworks, parades, geishas, river boats, and so much more. It attracts people from all over Japan to attend this event for For more in depth info on the event, location, time, and its history, click here!
    • For a calendar overview of all the official events happening in Japan during July, click here!
  • Beach season is on full fledge and it’s time to enjoy the coastal regions of Japan. There are a lot of beaches to go to depending on where you want to visit. It is probably best to avoid the most popular beach destinations so you wouldn’t have to compete with so many people on the same beach.
  • For other events/festivals occurring in July, click here!

Who are the Healthiest Americans?

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“Of the population — which includes the Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean subgroups — Chinese adults scored the best on five measures of health, including health status, multiple chronic conditions, serious psychological distress in the last month and limitations in work or social participation.

The data was collected between 2010 and 2014 as part of the National Health Interview Survey, surveying about 166,000 people over the age of 18.” – Emma Court, marketwatch

Asian Americans was reported to be the healthiest Americans among other groups of people. But datas have not detailed the reasons why or possible factors that separates Asian Americans from other groups. There could be potential factors that may have helped Asian Americans to remain healthy. So, listed down below are some reasons why:

  • Asian Americans have more options in terms of what they eat growing up, going out, etc. The food/cuisine of Asian cultures is very vast and uses a lot of different ingredients. Also, they tend to be healthy and include fresh ingredients. Some cultures have a more extensive veggie variety such as the Indian cuisine. Whiles other cultures focus on eating a balance meal such as Korean cuisine that have lots of veggie side dishes.
  • Asian medicine is a big influence in the beliefs and practices among all Asians. Although they are practiced differently throughout Asia and in the U.S., they all teach important health lessons and influence the lifestyle of others. For example, Chinese philosophies teaches people to live in harmony with their physical body and spiritual being. Want to acquire good life habits according to the Chinese medicine? Click here!
  • Although Asian Americans are reported to be the healthiest Americans, they still face health issues that are not reported. Therefore, it is important to spread awareness onto others through sharing info with friends, families, and on social media. For more info on health disparities of Asian Americans, click here!

This Month in Japan | March

Yayoi is the lunar calendar name for March meaning “new life,” symbolizing the coming of spring.

The only national holiday this month is Shunbun no hi, or Vernal Equinox Day, on March 20th or 21st. This is the official mark of the spring season as well as the unofficial start of the sakura cherry blossom season in much of Japan.

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www.japanesehouse.org

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www.kawaiikakkoiisugoi.com

Girls’ Day, or Hina Matsuri, falls on March 3rd and is one of the most popular celebrations this month. In mid-February, it is customary for families with young daughters to set up doll displays of the imperial court. Families enjoy tasty delights like chirashi sushi and strawberry daifuku while offering prayers for good health, fortune, and happiness for young girls.” – Credit to original owner. 

Other events going on in Japan:

  • March represents the beginning of spring and blooming of cherry blossoms. Cherry blossom viewing is a popular activity with tourists and the Japanese people. And because it only occurs  for a short period of time, many people may gather together to view cherry blossoms at parks at once.
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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  • March 14 is White Day and this holiday is when men gives a gift back to the women they received gifts from (on Valentine’s Day). It is also a popular holiday for sales events in major department stores.
  • “A festival to welcome Spring to Nara with a wide range of rituals that take place over 14 days (March 1 – March 14). The main events involve burning giant torches surprisingly close to a 1200 year old wooden building at Todaiji Temple to rain sacred sparks on a crowd standing below.” – http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/japan-in-march

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  • For more info on events in Japan during the month of March, link here!

 

 

Year of Fire Monkey

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Lunar New Year has come at Feb 8th – the Year of Fire Monkey, many celebrations hosted around the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese American communities.  BALL Partners like to remind everyone – having fun with families, but not overdoing with holiday food, and continue to exercise during the holidays.

1) Keep the focus on fun, not food.
Indulge in only the most special holiday treats. For example in the Chinese new year eve dinner, the dumpling is the most special dish, and when families prepare the dumplings, they will hind the couple coins in the dumplings, who gets to bite on the coins, who will have the best luck at coming year.  It’s fun to eat the dumplings to find the coins, but keep in mind not overdoing it.
2) Staying physically active during the holidays.
A study conducted by the U.S. government found adults gained, on average, more than a pound of body weight during the winter holidays – and that they were not at all likely to shed that weight the following year.  The good news is that the people who reported the most physical activity through the holiday season showed the least weight gain. Some even managed to lose weight.
3) Toast the new year with just one glass of bubbly.
Alcohol can interfere with your blood sugar by slowing the release of glucose into the bloodstream; it also contain a lot of calories – 89 calories per glass of white wine or champagne, 55 calories in a shot of vodka, and 170 calories in a pint of stout beer. What’s more, alcohol breaks down your inhibitions and judgment, which makes you that much less likely to resist the junk foods that you would otherwise be able to pass by.
4) Continue on with your new year’s resolutions!
Whether it is your goal to become healthier, achieve a career goal, finish your education, or simply training to run a 5K marathon, believe in yourself that you can do it! It is much easier to follow through by planning and taking small steps throughout your entire year. (Suggesting having a planner would be helpful and motivate you to do something everyday!) Don’t try to go cold turkey on anything and try to slowly cut back on certain things or improve on other aspects of your life. Every little effort will count in the long run!
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5) Pack up and go discover the world!
The new year represents new opportunities for everyone. Possibly a trip to a place you always wanted to visit? Plan it, save up, book it, and make sure to have your passport done a few months prior to your departure. (Minnesota now requires all people flying in states and international flights to have a passport so be aware.) Traveling to another place means you’ll get to discover other areas and experience different cultures!

Korea: Metal & Flat Chopsticks

Take on glance at Korean chopsticks and you will notice the difference right away. Compared to other Asian countries that uses round chopsticks, Korean chopsticks are flat. And if you were to hold a pair of Korean chopsticks you would feel that it is more heavily weighed. That is because unlike most chopsticks which are made out of wood and bamboo, they are usually made out of metal or stainless steel.

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One theory suggested that silver chopsticks were used because it could detect poison and change color if there was any. This detection would’ve been very important in the royal palace where the king’s food was always inspected. Another theory of the origins of metal chopsticks was the availability of metal in Korea where it was much easier to obtain than wood and bamboo. Deforestation could’ve been another reason why the people turned to using metals. In the end, one can tell that Korea has distinctive chopsticks which they’re known for.

Korean-Chopsticks

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Here are some benefits to using Korean chopsticks:

  • Much more sanitary as they are easier to clean and maintain
  • Reusable and last longer compared to other materials
  • You don’t have to invest in high quality chopsticks as cheap ones are usually good quality
  • Chopsticks are paired with a spoon so it is cost effective

 

This Month in Japan | January

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http://travel.rakuten.com/

“The old name for the month of January, Mutsuki, means “month of harmony” or “month where friends and relatives gather.”

One of the most important national holidays in Japan is Oshogatsu (New Year’s Day). Schools are typically closed for about 2 weeks, and many business are closed from December 28 through January 1. Read 14 Ways to Have a Happy New Year in Japan.

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http://www.dnaindia.com/

Coming-of-Age Day, observed on the second Monday of January, is another national holiday this month. On this day, women often wear an elaborate style of kimono called furisode while men typically wear formal suits to celebrate being 20-years-old, the age of adulthood in Japan.” – Rightful owner

Here are some fun things that occur in this month:

  • Wakakusa Yamayaki – January 23, Nara
    Centuries ago there was a land dispute between Kofukuji and Todaiji temples in Nara. As part of the dispute someone ended up burning down Mount Wakakusa. Now they do it every year as part of the Wakakusa Yamayaki Festival.” – http://www.japan-talk.com/
  • There’s a ton of festivals that features snow/ice art in the cold season of Japan. They are visited by people who comes to visit the beautiful sceneries.
  • Although it is the coldest month of the year, this is the time where the sun shines the most. This allows people to enjoy outdoor activities even more!
  • This is the month that signifies the beginning of a new year and that means that many people will come visit shrines to pray.

This Month in Japan | November

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“Frost month” or Shimotsuki is the old name for November. This is because in many parts of Japan, frost becomes visible in the mornings and this is the month when colder weather begins to set in.

During this month, there are two national holidays: Culture Day (Bunka no hi) on 11/3 and Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinro kansha no hi) on 11/23. Culture Day is a special day where achievements in culture, the arts, and academic endeavor are recognized. Award ceremonies, festivals, parades, and art exhibitions are part of the celebrations that occur to honor professionals in these fields as well as to maintain local culture traditions in general.

While shichi-go-san on 11/15 is not an observed national holiday, it is a popular day throughout Japan where 7 (shichi) year-old-girls, 5 (go) year-old boys, and 3 (san) year old boys and girls visit shrines wearing traditional clothing. The purpose of the holiday is to celebrate the growth and well-being of children.

 Shichi Go San -Family Portrait

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Fun facts:

  • Shimotsuki is also a Japanese surname.
  • Based on the zodiac, it is the month of the dog.
  • Labor and Thanksgiving Day is a time where Japanese people express their thankfulness for employment.

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This Month in Japan | October

Kannazuki, the old name for the month of October, is often translated as “month of no gods.” There is an interesting story behind the meaning of Kannazuki. In October, all of the gods throughout Japan gather at Izumo Shrine and forgo their responsibilities for the month. Conversely, in the town of Izumo where the shrine is located, the month is known locally as Kamiarizuki, or “the month of gods.”

In Japan, the second Monday of October is Taiiku no hi (Health and Sports Day). This year it is set on Oct 12. Typically, schools and some businesses host field days to encourage both physical and mental health. Popular activities include track, field events, and tug of war. This event allows students to bond and work together as a team. Mid-autumn is the best season for sport events as it isn’t too cold or too hot.

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October also includes lots of festivals that occurs all around Japan. Click here to learn about information about the events.

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