How to Incorporate Eastern Wisdom into Your Daily Life

At the beginning of every school year, I pick up a long-time favorite book of mine and indulge myself to one of the must fulfilling reads I’ve ever had. Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life by Alan Watts undoubtedly has been my saving grace for times of stress, internal conflict or existential confusion.

Watts brilliantly and carefully interweaves the fundamental tenets that build the Buddhist way of living with the modern and current lifestyle of the 21st century. As a senior finishing up my last year at UC Davis and soon entering one of the most highly anticipated and highly anxious states of young adulthood, the dreaded “post grad,” I’ve been turning to this book now more than ever.

Most people generally understand Buddhism as a very meditative, contemplative and passive way of living life and viewing oneself, but how easy is it to actually incorporate some of the fundamentals of Buddhist well being into your daily life?

With a combination of profound insights and suggestions from Watts and a couple of easily accessible practices, I have been able to thread just a taste of Eastern spiritual thought into my daily life. And the effect these small mindset and life style changes have had on my mental health and wellbeing have been enormous.

1. Read literature on the subject

The Western world’s fairly recent interest in Buddhism, Zen Buddhism and Taoism has allowed for a surge of new literature and accessible reads on the topic. The best way to start poking at the vastness of what Buddhism entails is to read about it. Some of my favorites are The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and, of course, Eastern Wisdom, Modern Life by Alan Watts.

2. Meditate using apps

Meditation is the practice most commonly associated with Buddhism, but also the hardest to incorporate into daily life. Because of the nature of the practice and the difficulty for people to feel progress with meditation, many phone applications and technologies have created more user-friendly ways to meditate. Headspace is one of the best apps out there because it creates short, 10-minute audio guides that address a variety of relevant topics such as stress, mindfulness and self-esteem. 

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3. Slow down your morning routine

The act of being present and aware of oneself is a key tenet of many Eastern schools of thought, and the way I have been able to incorporate that into my life is by slowing down my morning routine. By staying away from social media, emails and messages and by focusing on waking up, eating a healthy breakfast and getting my body warmed up, I am far more attuned to the processes of my body rather than the activities and stresses of the day.

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4. Practice awareness

Practicing awareness is hard to do when your schedule calls for back-to-back classes, gym workouts, club meetings and homework, but I try to remember to take time out of my day to stop and appreciate whatever is around me or reflect on a small, positive moment that might have occurred that day. Awareness is just stopping to remember that you’re a living and breathing human and not a robotic machine.

By adding these small changes into my daily routine, I’ve been able to become a happier, more thoughtful and reflective person. I’ve come to see that minor adjustments to the way I think and the way I practice self-care can have an enormous impact on my mental health and happiness. 

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