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The Japanese are a fascinating example of a modern culture that still honours some of their ancient animistic traditions in the form of Shintoism mixed in with Zen Buddhism.

While Western cultures have seen their ancient animistic traditions repressed by strict monotheistic traditions and a modern scientific worldview that suppresses altered states and ways of knowing outside of normal waking consciousness, many Japanese people still embrace their roots.

Given that anxiety and overthinking are extremely prevalent in modern Western cultures, some of these mindful Japanese techniques are particularly helpful for reframing our values, focusing on what matters most and letting go of self-referential thinking.

1. Shoganai:

Embrace the unavoidable

Accept all that you can’t control and focus your energy on what you can control. Embrace the fact that life is uncertain and you don’t have to know the answers to your problems.

2. Ikigai:

Find your reason for being

Develop clarity by contemplating your reason for being and what makes you come alive. Ask yourself how can you spend more time doing what you love while also making a difference in the world.

3. Shinrin-Yoku:

Explore your senses in the forest

Spending time walking in nature is a great way to stop overthinking and calm the mind. A big part of anxiety and overthinking comes from spending too much sedentary time indoors staring at screens.

4. Nenbutsu:

Repeat a sacred mantra

Try repeating a sacred phrase or mantra to focus your mind and find a greater sense of peace. I like to go for a walk and repeat the mantra “be here now” to fully embody my senses and let go of my stresses.

5. Zazen:

Sit quietly in meditation

This Zen Buddhist practice involves calming the mind and observing thoughts without attachment. It is a helpful technique for developing presence to reduce the habit of overthinking.

6. Gaman:

Face adversity with grace

We all face tough times and an up and down rollercoaster of success and failure. When life throws you lemons, handle it with resilience and keep moving forward one step at a time.

7. Wabi-Sabi:

Embrace imperfection

Life is never perfect and we can alleviate the pressure of overthinking by embracing imperfection and the transient, impermanent nature of life.

Kyle Pearce

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