T ▪ House

10 Life Lessons from a Japanese Monk

10 Life Lessons from a Japanese Monk

Before I began traveling to Kyoto, it often felt like every day was “busy.” It seems like everyone these days feels rushed and preoccupied, but so often that means lots of activity with little movement.

In Kyoto, I began to spend some time at the Buddhist temple in the heart of the oldest green tea garden in Japan. A monk there helped walk me through a guided meditation, with a beautiful zen garden providing the perfect backdrop. Taking those few moments to calm my “monkey mind” and remind myself to be present were transformative as I returned home to San Francisco. Now, I make sure to spend some time with him on each trip.

On my last visit, we spoke about small changes that can create a big difference. I found myself incorporating his suggestions into my daily rituals, and wanted to share them with you.

  1. Practice self-care first thing in the morning. Whether it’s a quick stretch, washing your face or enjoying an actual breakfast, the first thing you should do in the morning is to take care of yourself.
  2. Look at nature. Cut through the park on your commute to work or take a Saturday morning stroll through the trees, or even just face a window while doing your emails.
  3. Play with your breathing. Meditation is not about thinking of nothing. Instead, choose something to focus on, like your breathing, and think purposefully about taking deep breaths in and out.
  4. Vocalize words of happiness. Saying aloud that you are grateful for someone, or you wish someone joy, lifts your mood and someone else’s.
  5. Practice forgiveness. Let go of unhappiness by wishing well for people you may not love or agree with.
  6. Clean your space. No need for a full overhaul every day—simply wiping down a surface or decluttering your desk is a form of detoxing.
  7. Unplug. Take a walk and leave your phone at home, or put it away while getting ready for bed. Even the monk says this is the hardest one for him!
  8. Pause for a moment. Most of us don’t feel like we have time for meditation, but even pausing to take a deep breath before we do something helps to focus and be more present. Take a few seconds before eating to better appreciate your meal, or pause before meeting a friend for coffee so you are fully present in the moment.
  9. Find a fresh perspective. When we feel stress or anxiety, it can cause us to be stuck in one way of thinking. Take a moment to deconstruct your thoughts. Look at a tree—it always sheds its leaves and twigs, but maintains a strong core.
  10. Take care of your face and your hands. Just as a craftsman takes care of his tools, you should be caring for your face and your hands. They get you through your life.

Because skincare is such a big part of my life and my work, I wanted to apply these philosophies into my skincare rituals. This is why we created The Essence, a small 7-second ritual to soften skin the way that meditation helps to soften my mind. We believe that when it comes to life and skincare, less is more—and even small changes can create a powerful difference. Whether it’s caring for your skin, walking in nature or spending time with loved ones, I hope that you find small ways to make a big difference in your life.


Victoria Signature

Victoria Tsai
Chief Treasure Hunter

Published December 27, 2016
Share This Post