‘Learn from the best to serve the best’
Anna M. Iwata, Founder of Zen Men
About Anna – your personal life and happiness coach
Let me tell you a little about me and what led to the creation of ZEN MEN COACHING, CONSULTANCY & CLUB.
Having lived, studied and worked in five different countries - and having visited many more since the age of four – my outlook on life is international and cosmopolitan. My happy if slightly unusual childhood and teenage years were governed by a strict diplomatic protocol and international business etiquette. I lived in a world where there was no room for error.
Changing countries, cultures, schools and having to make new friends and learn a brand new language each time (I am fluent in five now) was challenging, but it gave me an incredible opportunity to see and experience the world. It also enabled me to meet many wonderful and inspiring people, to learn essential life skills in embracing and managing major changes, dealing with adversity and to become a skilled communicator and conversationalist.
Life lessons from Japan
My fascination with the Land of the Rising Sun began when, aged 16, I was offered a student’s summer placement in a Japanese company. Two years later Japan became my second home as well as my spiritual, happy place. However, despite my adoration for Japan and its lovely people, I have also witnessed and experienced a darker side, which most foreign visitors don’t get to see – the harsh, toxic and unforgiving corporate culture that slowly but steadily destroys the physical, mental and emotional health of its hard working and dedicated workforce.
Insanely long working hours, the daily after-work drinking culture, chronic stress, fatigue, years of sleep deprivation, a reluctance to take annual leave and a very limited time for private and family life – all contribute to karoshi (death by overwork), suicide or debilitating and lifelong health issues and addictions.
My quest for answers
I knew from the start that in order to improve my home situation and to help the man in my life, I needed to understand not only what causes this fanatical devotion to work and the peer group in general, but also how to alleviate his daily stress for both our sakes. Following my life motto of ‘learn from the best, to serve the best’, I began a long quest to find answers and the best, most effective methods of relieving stress and addictions. Ironically, Japan – which is one of the most overworked and stressed countries in the world – is also a goldmine of knowledge and information when it comes to studying and exploring relaxation therapies, whether traditional, alternative or spiritual.
I surrounded myself with a team of top class experts including medical doctors, psychologists, addiction specialists, oriental therapists and healers, Zen Buddhist monks, Martial Arts masters, Kaizen experts and even a retired Geisha.
Putting my project into action
After hundreds of hours of both formal and informal study, I have finally developed my first two unique ‘where East meets West’ holistic relaxation and happiness programmes – one for men in employment and the other for those who are about to retire or have already done so – and both focus heavily on mental relaxation and Zen mind mastery. Both were successfully tried and tested on many very demanding, time-poor and exceptionally busy and stressed CEOs, businessmen and business owners, which encouraged me to leave my teaching/ corporate training career behind (in cross-cultural psychology and cross-cultural competence, international business communication and foreign languages) and create an exclusive ‘men only zone’ practice.
What started out as a small, private home project, born out of hopelessness and desperation, became a lifelong passion and subsequently a career as well. Over 20 years later, my dedication to men’s health, happiness and mental wellness remains as strong as ever, thanks to my vast experience and knowledge of what chronic stress, burnout, depression, bottled up emotions and addictions can do not only to the quality of life of the individuals concerned, but also to the long suffering partners, children, family members, friends and colleagues.
If not addressed quickly and properly, these issues can get out of hand and impact immeasurably on your daily life and relationships. That’s why I am so passionate to help you work through their root causes and give you the confidence, skills and practical tools to master your mind for life.
Privately, I have been living the Zen lifestyle since I was 18 years old, which has greatly contributed to my own mental clarity, emotional stability, a sense of strong purpose in life (ikigai) as well as an inner calm, peace, harmony and general wellbeing.