Taoism (Daoism) is a religion and philosophy that originated in China over 2000 years ago. It is a spiritual religion that focuses on finding the Tao, or the Way, which is a principle that connects all things. Taoism promotes finding harmony with nature and self-development through Taoist meditation and mindfulness. Learning about Taoist practices can help you find inner peace, become more calm, and more focused. There are many anxiety-relieving Taoist activities that are rooted in Taoist principles.
Taoism can be a difficult concept to understand, and Benjamin Hoff’s novel The Tao of Pooh, explains Taoist concepts through the lens of the characters of Winnie the Pooh. Each Taoist principle represents mindfulness and self-reflection to help you become your most true self.
Taoist Principles as represented by characters from The Tao of Pooh
- Rabbit, The ‘Bisy Backson’ - The Workaholic
The modern problem of the workaholic is described in The Tao of Pooh as the tribulation of the “Bisy Backson.” The Bisy Backson is one who is constantly busy, and to find peace and happiness, one must do the exact opposite. Hoff writes, “The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can't save time. You can only spend it wisely or foolishly. The Bisy Backson has practically no time at all, because he's too busy wasting it by trying to save it. And by trying to save it, he ends up wasting the whole thing.”
Mindfulness tips: Say no to more, don’t worry about appearing “busy,” and take more time in your day for yourself (try mindfulness meditation, yoga, or mindful massage.)
- Pooh - The Uncarved Block
Pooh represents original simplicity, one who has not yet been jaded or changed by society. Hoff writes, “When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.”
Mindfulness tips: Do activities that make you happy and bring you back to childhood and use meditation to remove self-doubt, arrogance, and stress from your mind.
- Owl - Knowledge for the Sake of Knowledge
Owl represents the person or scholar who learns simply for selfish personal gain and ego. This person acquires knowledge not to share or grow from, but to appear wise and pompous. This is not in sync with the Tao and Hoff explains that knowledge has no practical use when it is kept away from others. In discussing the power of learning by doing rather than by simply reading, Hoff says, “But isn't the knowledge that comes from experience more valuable than the knowledge that doesn't? It seems fairly obvious to some of us that a lot of scholars need to go outside and sniff around - walk through the grass, talk to the animals. That sort of thing.”
Mindfulness tips: Share knowledge and worry less about appearance than about practical application of information. (Try these 8 self-assessments to see where you are and where you can improve.)
- Eeyore - Pessimism
Eeyore represents something that can be connected to modern society. He uses his knowledge to complain and point out negativity constantly. This prevents him from finding happiness, wisdom, and being accomplished. In the book, Hoff writes, “The play-it-safe pessimists of the world never accomplish much of anything, because they don't look clearly and objectively at situations, they don't recognize or believe in their own abilities to overcome even the smallest amount of risk.”
Mindfulness tips: Use meditation to find positivity, surround yourself with positivity, and find healthy activities that bring you joy. (Try this ten minute guided meditation for positive thinking.)
- Tigger/Piglet - Unpreparedness vs. Preparedness
Tigger and Piglet represent both sides of the spectrum of going into a challenge. Tigger jumps in unprepared and ill-equipped, but with enthusiasm. Piglet is calculated and timid, rarely ever tackling a problem and preferring to wait until ready. Taoism says that wise people who have connected with the Way understand their limitations, strengths, and weaknesses. Hoff says, “The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not.”
Mindfulness tips: Practice self-awareness and mindful meditation to understand your limits.
The main point of the Tao of Pooh is that you should learn about your inner nature in order to find the Way. Hoff says, “When you know and respect your Inner Nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don't belong.” Taoism focuses on discovering yourself through meditation and reflection, knowing your limits, and being selfless. Once you have mastered the principles of Taoism, you are able to live a peaceful and stress-free life.