When was the last time you sat in silence, without fretting about the things you ought to be doing or gazing at a screen of any kind? When was the last time you didn't think anything at all?

If this is something you do regularly, you're one of the growing legions who have discovered the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Health authorities now recognize mindfulness as an effective treatment for stress and depression, and corporate wellness programs at companies like Google, Nike and Starbucks are starting to include it. According to the late Steve Jobs, by practicing mindfulness, "Your intuition starts to blossom and ... you see so much more than you could before." In the world of the overworked, the new mantra is "Don't just do something, sit there!"

So what exactly is mindfulness? "Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness," says Jon Kabat-Zinn, who helped to popularize the term as a secular synonym for meditation. And with this booming interest in mindfulness coinciding with record numbers of tourists coming to Japan, more and more visitors are seeking to explore the roots of Zen, that most-recognized form of Buddhism.