My MSC practice gets a workout in Japan!
Reflection # 1
Having survived the longest flight of my life, 13 hours, we landed in Haneda airport in Tokyo late afternoon of September 6th. Due to the international dateline, although we had left the morning of September 5th, we set foot on Japanese soil over 24 hours later. After having shuffled through the crowds to depart the highly air -conditioned airport, I was first surprised by the blast of hot, humid air. Beyond exhausted at this point, we jumped on the first subway that seemed to be headed in the right direction to our apartment in Tokyo. Mistake number 1, don’t assume anything. The subway reached the end of the line and we were nowhere near our destination. In the thick of rush hour, folks were dashing around us as they made their way from work to the next destination in their day. After practicing our limited Japanese, we were directed to the right track and the right subway. Throughout our trip, being able to ask for help is what saved us. Although the Japanese learn English in school, many were hesitant to speak. Again and again, we had to persist in asking for help until someone could articulate the answer. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to help. Just the opposite. I have never met a kinder, more gracious, gentle group of people in my life! So many of them went out of their way to be helpful.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the beginning. We finally arrive at our destination. We are in the heart of Tokyo, right near Jingu baseball stadium where my husband’s nephew-in-law, Matt, is pitching for the Yakult Swallows. His being in Japan is the reason we have embarked on this trek across the world!!
Over the next five days, we orient ourselves in Tokyo. In order to manage the heat, humidity and streets teeming with a sea of people, we begin our days very early. This becomes my favorite part of time in Tokyo. We are able to explore the city on foot with some semblance of peace and quiet. Nearby the apartment is a lovely national park. These places with space and greenery are ones we seek out as our 22- day trip unfolds. I realize that city life is overwhelming for me. Not only are there crowds of people fast-pacing it up and down the sidewalks, there are bikes careening around the corners, criss-crossing on sidewalks to find the fastest routes forward.
Can you begin to get the picture why my MSC practice was both essential and a lifesaver? I used my informal practices all of the time, especially the Mindful Self-Compassion break! I was so grateful to have this practice to fall back on. I was raised a country girl. My grandparents were farmers. We had a huge, open cow path going between our house and the farm. My nervous system was not designed for the fast pace of this vibrant city.
The highlight of Tokyo was attending a baseball game where Matt pitched. Let me tell you, the Japanese love their baseball. I have never seen such team spirit. Between the drums, trumpets, songs, and waving umbrellas, it was a deafening display of their enthusiasm for this sport. We witnessed Matt sliding into home plate, his white uniform covered in dirt. The umpire called safe but it got replayed about 12 times on the big screen with the accompanying eruption of hoots and hollers from the stands. American baseball will never live up to this experience. My next blog will cover my reflections about Kyoto, our next destination where we spent 13 days.