Be Calm and ... Touch a Tree??
What do you like to do to remain tranquil and calm in the midst of trouble? Take a nice, soothing bubble bath? Go out for a drink and a bite with a friend? Curl up with the family for a feel-good movie and some fresh popcorn?
Japanese Christian theologian Kosuke Koyama, in his book Three Mile an Hour God, shares that he feels compelled to slow down and touch a particular pine tree every day on his way to work. He shares that in the Buddhist tradition, touching something concrete and fixed on a daily basis can give us a sense of calm, a sense of tranquility, as it takes us out of ourselves, and gives us an awareness of and connectedness to our surroundings. We become a little unattached to our own worries, and can thereby put them in their proper place. We find contentment and gratefulness in the pause, in the touch.
As I write, Covid-19 is taking its course throughout the world. It is ravaging people’s peace of mind, as we struggle to keep a positive mental outlook in the face of pain and fear.
Should your circumstances allow for a daily walk, seek out a nice, hardy tree in your neighborhood. Make a point to lay your hand on that tree as you pass it each day. Let its stoic, enduring presence be a comfort to you. A daily reminder to pause, to be aware and connected, and to allow tranquility to chase out the stresses that can build inside you. Think of all the good things that are enduring in your life, and take comfort.
In much the same way, we can become more in touch with our own families through touch, and be reminded of what is most important to us. Take a momentary pause from your morning bustle. Touch your son’s shoulder, hug your daughter, hold your spouse’s hand as you sip coffee together. Dwell in that special moment, and let it do its powerful work of binding you together.
Mr. Koyama’s Japanese Christian perspective, steeped in the richness of Buddhist culture, will perhaps feel foreign to many of us. But give it a try! Let it become familiar, and see if this little snippet of global tranquility wisdom enriches your life today.
Have you ever dreamed of visiting Japan? Touring those stunning, ancient Shinto & Buddhist temples? Walking the funky, youth fashion-forward Harajuku district of Tokyo? Exploring the pop culture that brought us manja? Luxuriating in a natural hot spring with all the delightful conveniences of a Japanese bath house? Oh, and there’s so much more!
Give me a call! I loved my summer spent in Japan in my 20’s, and I’d love to help you map out your perfect Japanese adventure, too!