Humans of ASIJ – Ronan Takizawa ’22

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Article by Take Zoot, Writer

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How and why did you get into meditation? 

“I used to live in India, and at my school [the American Embassy School in New Delhi], they practiced meditation quite often. Being in India, meditation is very much a part of the culture. Everyone practices yoga in the morning and meditates. When I came back to Japan, I missed India a lot, and meditation was one way I could still implement Indian culture into my life. I didn’t want my experience in India to go to waste. Also, in freshman year, being new to the school, I had a pretty hard transition. Meditation was a way for me to manage that stress. Instead of using it as a tool to relieve stress and what not, I really wanted to make it my lifestyle, to change my life for the better.”

What are some changes you’ve seen in your life since you started?

“Since I started meditating, the amount of stress I have has decreased significantly. I definitely have become more observant and more humble as well. Through it, I was also able to practice empathy and kindness. I feel like I am able to see other people’s perspectives better now. When you do meditation, you begin to let go of fixated thoughts and beliefs, and by doing that, I feel I am able to interact with others better and get to know them better. “

How do you deal with stress? 

“I really want to emphasize that meditation shouldn’t be just a tool to get rid of your stress. It’s more of a lifestyle. When I am stressed, I like to do formal meditation where I just sit down in my room and focus on my breath. Another important practice for me is informal meditation where throughout the day I will focus on my breath and feel that grounding point. Also, I always try to be positive since that helps out. If I am really stressed, I am able to just let go of everything. By that, I mean, if there are any homework assignments or things I need to do, I put my own personal needs before that and drop everything, and have a quiet sit. Quite often, we think we do not have a lot of time in our day because we are doing one thing after another. All it takes is a 15-minute pause, but I know a lot of people can’t do that. On a regular day for me, I wake up at 6:00, it takes me 30 minutes to get ready for school, and I have to catch the bus at 7:00. That leaves me 30 minutes of open time. Usually I use that time to just have a quiet sit. The morning sits are the best because that’s when your mind is clearest. Sitting on the bus at times is also relaxing and meditative. I just observe the noise and the surroundings. Looking out the window and being alone is meditative. I also practice mindfulness during the pilot club activity time—please join us! ”

Do you have advice for anyone interested in meditation?

“If you want to get into meditation, you really need to drop all your preconceptions about it. Everyone associates meditation with Buddhism or maybe Stoicism, or other religious and philosophical beliefs. In reality meditation is really in our nature. Maybe start out with a more secular approach, instead of focusing on religion, since that can be very distracting at times. Also keep in mind that there really should be no concrete goal to meditation because it’s not a tool. You shouldn’t expect benefits right away. I’m going to say it again but it’s more just a lifestyle. We are naturally able to meditate, but when we become so accustomed to a life of consecutive short-term joys and pleasures, we lose that ability to stay still and observe. I feel like the reason why teenagers often feel busy is not because they are doing too much, but it’s just that they aren’t comfortable just staying still. Like even when you are bored, you’re probably still doing something whether it’s scrolling through your phone. Meditation changed my lifestyle to be able to press that pause button on my daily activities.”