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How do we give ourselves space and time to disengage our mental autopilot, re-awaken our senses, re-enter the present? Personal rituals can lend us focus, ease and grace, and release creativity.In Kyoto, green tea is not simply a beverage; it’s the essential ingredient in a ceremony that strips away inessentials and sets the scene for deeper resonances. Alexandra Ting interviews younger-generation practitioners at Toutousha, a teahouse “intoxicated with tea, or beauty.” Some prefer formal meditation: Okada Torajiro, profiled by Joshua Shapiro, developed his own form of simply sitting, during the intellectual ferment of the later Meiji era—noting however that if he had been teaching in the West, he might have used dance as his practice. Observing the play of human emotions is hardly new: Dola RC reports that since the 5th century, Indian playwrights, poets and artists have explored rasa, the “juice”—as in essence and energy—inherent in the responsive psyche. Even earlier, the Buddha famously noted the paradox that “form is emptiness, and emptiness is form”: Paula Arai introduces former scientist Iwasaki Tsuneo, who spent his last years inscribing that Heart Sutra illumination into images of the cosmos. As described by Mon Ooyama, Tokyo arts collective #BCTION’s invocation to creativity was a much faster burn— they took over a soon-to-be-demolished 10-story office tower, and within a month, transformed it into a short-lived monument to the quirkily mindful immediacy of street art (meanwhile incorporating a space for tea, and tea-master Matsumura Souryu, in one of the upper levels). Liane Wakabayashi, a self-taught artist, describes creating her Genesis Cards to encourage others to access and exercise their creative powers.

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