Old age secrets of the Okinawan’s impart the virtues of managing stress and focusing on the magic in every moment. Their weapon against decline an ability to ‘redefine’ their experience of reality.
Employing a state of mindfulness for the everyday duties, encounters, obstacles, blessings and achievements then filtering the content of your thoughts to highlight the positive aspects of each is not only a means to preserve good health of both mind and body but to transform your reality.
Recognising an abundance of things to be grateful for elevates mood, reinforces optimism and resolve all vital traits in people who live long and well, but mastering meditation or detailed contemplation of a moment is a challenging prospect when you are used to an over stimulated state of being.
The notion that frenetic environments place people at a disadvantage to seize control over circumstance and stress compared with those who live closer to nature―where meditation can be practised unencumbered in settings we already consider serene, is simply not so.
Firstly, nature although inherently restorative presents her own challenges, many of which can be unrelenting, unassailable and unpredictable. These hardships could easily rival happiness in the most positive of people, yet creases of joy evident on the faces of Mongolian nomads who face some of the harshest conditions suggest the key to true happiness lies in how we perceive life―constantly evolving and filled with opportunity.
Just as courage is cultivated not from the absence of fear but rather the knowledge that something is more important, so too happiness comes not from the absence of hardship but the knowledge that something is more important. Redefine your objectives to reflect a grander picture―how unfortunate are you in relation to someone starving? How permanent is this problem and is it actually a problem or an unexpected detour, designed to inspire new attitudes, actions and adventures?
Secondly, urban settings make great places for meditation. It may seem illogical to suggest the confused noise of persistent and demanding stimulus as present in city environments could leave any room for meditation but free-runners have found a way to work with these obstacles to do just that.
Clearing a Path to Patience and Peace through Parkour
Moving the body intuitively around, through, over and under physical obstacles these athletes have discovered a stress-busting activity that redefines reality. Focusing on the most fluid path of least resistance all movements are in themselves a meditation of the moment. Not trying to foresee the future or retrace the past only to be present in the moment―aware of the space around them, their bodies rythm and energy.
Alternative practices in ‘Moment Meditation’
Leveraging the powerful psychological and physical benefits of meditation does not require you to share tent with Mongolian nomads in search of happiness or to leap off lampposts seeking peace of mind or to learn patience. Where ever you are, whoever you are, what ever you are doing―we can all moment meditate, here’s how…
Meditation takes many forms and sitting cross-legged with eyes closed is but one. The important part of meditation is redirect your thoughts to focus on the detail of what you are doing searching for the beauty in the moment. For example whilst doing the dishes you could delight in the warmth of the water, bemuse on the magical properties of the bubbles and by doing so make an otherwise mundane or arduous chore enjoyable.
Deploy your perspective-shifter more frequently, to harness longterm benefits and make optimism and resilience a habit.
Practising moment meditation is less demanding than attempting lengthy meditations like those mastered by Buddhist monks who can spend hours deflecting abstract thoughts and observing a quiet stillness of the mind. Because moments are brief holding your thoughts captive to induce calm can be mastered more easily and therefor used to fend off impulsive emotions like anger, greed, depression, fear and the like.
Put it to practise as you idle in line on the freeway home from a long day at work. In this case directing the mind inward to focus on your breath or process the mechanical marvel you have command over.
To explore this topic further I recommend reading ‘Hurry Up and Meditate’ by David Michie author of several titles on mindfulness all of which translate the detailed philosophies of the Dharma into digestible lessons easy to apply. Another title by Michie ‘Enlightenment to Go’ is great for expanding your horizons and offers a glimpse of a radiantly different reality.
To learn more about the Centenarian Secrets of the Okinawan people checkout the Blue Zones Okinawan’s Guide to Longevity.
Finally for some Parkour inspiration visit Sebastian Foucan’s site the official founder of free-running.