Meditation not too long ago garnered interest only from a small sliver of society. But today, bookstores are filled with titles on contemplative subjects, and there is a sense the practice has gained broad cultural appeal.
To test the waters, I joined a one-day meditation course for businesspeople.
The course was organised by the Japanese office of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, and Elaura Inc., a company that is involved in magazine publishing and other ventures.
It was held at a hotel in Tokyo and attended by 48 people in their 30s to 50s.
There are many types of meditation, but this course was on "mindfulness," which essentially means focusing on the present moment without making any value judgments about it.
Mindfulness has even found its way into Google Inc. of the United States, which has incorporated the practice into its training programme.
The course was led by five Buddhist priests from overseas who are disciples of Thich Nhat Hanh.
In the morning, we listened to a discourse by Phap Kham, who is dharma teacher and director of the Asian Institute of Applied Buddhism.
Some pearls of wisdom from the discourse:
"It is very important to have your body and mind rooted firmly in the here and now during meetings at work."
"Don't act before your mind is settled. Only when your feelings are calm can you observe situations clearly."
"One has to accept changes in business. Impermanence is always present in the world."
"'Selflessness' means that you cannot exist on your own. Your happiness comes from the happiness of others, and your happiness contributes to the happiness of others. In business it is the same."
We were not taught a special business-oriented meditation at the course. By focusing on the here and now, one can understand one's relationships to others and calmly deal with changes.