The Zen Of Finding Your Zone

May 25th, 2010 by gwatanabe

As my gig with The Honolulu Advertiser and One Doctor's Opinion draws to a close, I would like to humbly pass on what I feel is one of the most significant ingredients to a healthy life style...discovering your own Zen Zone. To me, this is one of the best pieces of advice that was passed on to me by someone who cared about the challenges of my lifestyle. Please allow me to share it with all of you. As the classic saying goes...I saved the very best for last...and here it is.

It is a simple principle, yet it can greatly impact your life in its own way. As we all go about our busy matter what you definition of a busy and stressful life is--it is YOUR life and that is all that matters. Whatever you personally perceive as stressful or anxiety provoking or just plain anything outside your usual comfort zone can be seen as a threat to your well-being. Am I making sense here?

How many times in a day, or a week, or even in a month do we take the time to relax? Or even just to kick back and take a quick breather? Or just shut down for a period of time to recharge our battery, or refill our well-being cup?

For many of us, who are reading this right now, we can't even begin to answer this question. We just don't remember or it has been way too long and we can't even think of how to respond to this question. This is not a good thing. Living our stressful lives continuously in high gear only leads down the path to self-destruction. We, as humans, need certain periods of "recovery" that is aside from sleep in order to maintain healthy lifestyles.

Zen is traditionally thought of as many things in the ancient multicultural literature and applies to the majority of--if not all aspects of life. It is an introspection of one's self. A looking in toward one's inner being. A meditation of sorts, the finding of and acceptance of one's inner peace. It is an entity that is not truly described by words. It exists as a state of being.

How does this all figure in to what I am trying to pass on to all of you? The whole concept is simple. Everyone needs to find where their "Zen Zone" exists. This is where you allow yourself to let go, to relax, to unwind and be one with your inner self. I know it is a very strange concept to understand. So let me give some examples.

Some people may escape the reality of their stressful lifestyles by hitting the gym and working hard for one hour every few days. They think of nothing else for that one hour except to push that stack of weights up ten more times. Those who escape into their Zen Zones by running, think of nothing else that happened that day or what will happen tomorrow. They just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other for the next ten miles--nothing more, nothing less. Others may go fishing, or plant flowers in the garden, or go hiking as their personal "thing". Get it? Everyone needs to find their "thing" that brings them to that Zen Zone and allows them to unbind from the reality of today and turn off for a period of time.

In my humble opinion, finding your Zone to nourish your inner self is very much a part of a healthy overall lifestyle. To me, I view it as being as vital as water or food. Take it for what it is. It can be neither proven, nor disproven. But to me it has made all the difference.

What is my story? OK. This is my long story made short. My own lifestyle was one on a path to self-destruction too. I continued to only work long hours, raced through my lunches at a breakneck pace so I could get back to work. I ended work late and almost always brought work home so that I could get ahead for the next day. Yes, I did spend lots of time with my family...but there was literally zero time spent on my OWN well-being to take care of MY inner self. This continued for many years and eventually found me a frustrated mouse running on the wheel just doing nothing but feeding the stressful fire that burned in me. I was, to put it mildly, one wound up time bomb waiting to explode.

Now enter the discovery of my own Zen Zone. A few years ago, out of curiosity, I went to visit a Karate dojo with my daughter in hopes of "finding" something to get into as a distraction to my unhealthy self. A new challenge--something new to learn as a buddy thing with my daughter. Little did I know, at the time, that I had literally found the perfect match for my Zone. Today, that dojo has become my second family that I enjoy and look forward to seeing and training with three times a week. It has become such a big part of my life.

But most importantly, it has allowed me to find contentment in my inner self. It is my personal sanctuary for that one hour. Nothing else matters for that one hour. Only intense concentration on learning and appreciating the art as best I can. No plans for tomorrow. No worries about what happened today. No curiosities of what is for dinner or what is on TV. No distractions about what others are doing. Just pure focus....

Well, that's my story.... Best of wishes to all of you in finding your own special Zen Zone. When you finally find will know.

To Sensei Sekiguchi and all of my ohana at Hawaii Shotokan Karate.... Thank you. You have no idea what an impact finding you people has made on my life...

So until next time....Stay Healthy Hawaii!



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