「My Spiritual Health」
“How are you?” It’s a question we usually hear in hundreds of different languages, several million times a day all over the World. This standard greeting involves an inquiry into people’s well-being. If you are like most people, without thinking, you answer, “I’m fine thank you.” But are you really fine? Aren’t you sometimes stressed? How are your relationships with your family and friends? Especially in a rainy season in Japan, many people become melancholy. Not just in the rainy season, there are many troubles around us. Even when under stress, Japanese think patience is a virtue, so they always say “I’m fine.” Then people lose sight of the real health. What could save people like this?
Exactly what does it mean to be truly fine? The World Health Organization says that health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but also the presence of good mental health. Until recently, it said that human well-being was a combination of three different conditions; physical well-being, mental well-being and social well-being. More recently, they have added a fourth condition, “spiritual well-being”. This made me wonder, “What is spiritual well-being, and what am I doing to improve my own spiritual health?”
We all want to be healthy. In order to be healthy, we must have a strong mind and body. I looked up spiritual well-being, on the Internet and found many things. I didn’t understand them. So I asked myself, “What do I think it is?” I thought spiritual well-being had a connection to the World around us, to the people, to Nature, to our culture that gives our lives purpose and meaning. And I remembered my experience in my childhood.
When I was a child, I played erhu, which is a Chinese instrument with my father. At that time I was playing nursery rhyme such as `Song of the mother’ and `Tanabata song’ . These songs reconnected me to the history of our people. Beautiful old Japanese songs calm my mind. For me, the beauty and serenity of Japanese traditional music greatly benefits my mind. Through these memories, I found a big hint to get close to spiritual health. It’s Japanese culture around us.
Spiritual health can be augmented by a reconnection to the beauty of nature. In Okayama, my birthplace, I often enjoy the beautiful Korakuen Japanese Gardens. In the pond, carp swim gracefully and cranes walk slowly on long thin legs. The crisp air of the bamboo forest refreshes and relaxes me. On a clear day, blue sky spreads out far overhead, and at night, you can see the moon and star shining brightly in the sky. The anxiety that is in my heart is blown away somewhere, and my troubled mind is calmed by nature.
Spiritual health can also be found in Japanese cuisine. Now, Japanese food has attracted attention as a health food in the world. I am interested in nutrition, so I feel lucky to be able to touch the wonders of Japanese food. Foods that are our tradition bring me peace and reconnect me with the land that produced it and the generations of people that have refined it into the dishes we love today.
And so now I must answer my question. How is my spiritual health? Everything that I have practiced in order to have my health is to participate actively in Japanese culture. The worlds of music, nature, and food culture. Busy modern Japanese are exposed to daily stress. However, if you blow off the stress, you can be positive in your work, family and friends. Through the Japanese culture and nature and people, we are able to reexamine the happiness of our healthy life.