In a world of relentless striving for perfection and never-ending consumption, is there anything to be found in the ancient Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi that offers respite from it all? Could this calming wisdom provide harmony through self acceptance, appreciation and authentic living?
Wabi Sabi, the traditional Japanese aesthetic that values the beauty of imperfection and the natural cycle of growth and decay. It encourages us to embrace the unique qualities of an object or experience, rather than trying to perfect or preserve it.
The philosophy is rooted in the teachings of Zen Buddhism and is often associated with cha-no-yu (the tea ceremony). In today’s fast-paced and consumer-driven world, the idea of embracing imperfection and accepting the passage of time may seem counterintuitive. However, by embracing the principles of Wabi Sabi, we can learn to appreciate the beauty in the things around us, even, or especially if they’re not perfect.
The Concept of ‘Perfectly Imperfect’.
In a society that places priority on achieving perfection and partaking in excessive consumption, the concept of ‘perfectly imperfect’ can provide a refreshing perspective. We’re constantly bombarded with images of perfection and told that we need the latest and greatest products to be happy and fulfilled. This constant pursuit of perfection and material possessions can lead to feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness. However, by embracing the concept of ‘perfectly imperfect’ we can learn to find contentment in the simple things in life and focus on the present moment rather than constantly striving for more. This can help us to reduce stress and anxiety and increase feelings of gratitude and contentment.
Embracing the Natural Cycle of Life
Wabi Sabi teaches us that what is real and natural is beautiful. In our modern world, we’re often taught to try to preserve things as they are, whether it be our youth, our possessions, or our environment. But in doing so, we’re missing out on the beauty and richness of the natural world. The natural cycles of life remind us that everything is temporary, and nothing will last forever. By embracing the natural cycles of life, we can learn to appreciate the unique qualities of each stage and find meaning and purpose in the impermanence of life. This can help us to develop a deeper understanding of the world around us and our place within it.
Finding Beauty in the Unconventional
Wabi Sabi also encourages us to find beauty in the unconventional and unexpected. In a society that values conformity and perfection, it can be easy to overlook the unique qualities of the things around us. The principles of Wabi Sabi teaches us to appreciate the beauty in the imperfect, the unique and offbeat. It also allows us to be more open-minded, accepting and understanding of things that are different from what we are used to.
The Influence of Wabi Sabi in other fields
The principles of Wabi Sabi can be applied to most aspects of life. The practice of mindfulness, for example, is closely related to the Wabi Sabi approach. Mindfulness encourages us to focus on the present moment, to let go of judgment, and to accept things as they are. We can learn to appreciate the beauty in everyday life and find contentment in the simple things.
Additionally, the principles of Wabi Sabi can be applied in art and design, where the focus is on simplicity, naturalness, and authenticity. This can be seen in the use of natural materials and earthy colours, as well as the incorporation of elements that reflect the passage of time, such as patina and wear.
In a world that values perfection and consumption, Wabi Sabi offers a refreshing perspective. It encourages accepting the nature of our earthly existence, accepting our impermanence. To age means to live, to learn, to be courageous. Aging is the blossoming of a flower from a bud, the transformation from a cocoon to butterfly, the changing of seasons. Through embracing aging, we find liberation and a beauty that runs deeper than perfection. Here’s how you can incorporate this wise Japanese philosophy into your life.
Practice Wabi Sabi in Your Life
- Practice Authenticity
- Can you think of the people you can just be yourself around? Imagine if you could be yourself all of the time; in your career, in all of your relationships. This is how life is meant to be! Start by noticing the places you are not authentic and releasing the limiting beliefs that have made you believe it has to be this way.
- Repair, don’t replace
- Embedded in the meaning of Sabi is the ‘artful mending of damage’ to fix broken products when we can rather than simply replacing; building a culture on sustainability rather than mass consumption. We can practice conscious consumerism by supporting companies that honour the earth and repurposing our possessions. We can opt to shop with mindful small businesses and choose natural products as much as possible.
- Simplify your Space
- Remove clutter, embrace open spaces and the beauty of nature and imperfection throughout your home. Rather than buying a new bouquet of flowers, you could bring fallen pieces of nature into your home in new ways.
- Spend Time in Nature
- At our core, we are one with nature, we are a part of the earth. Spending time in nature reminds us of who we really are and recalibrates our frequency to one of well-being and the body’s natural healing and recovery state.
- Pro Aging
- Honour, care for, and learn from those older than you. Value, appreciate and celebrate your own aging and aging all around you–in yourself, in a family member, in a tree; see it is a sign of living, of learning and deep wisdom and beauty.
- Release Overachieving
- To be constantly striving means to never enjoy life in the present moment. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. We all need rest, and space to just be without any agenda, goal or intention. Slow down, rest, and enjoy the abundance to be found in open space.
- Practice Gratitude
- In a culture focused on always wanting more and achieving more, practice gratitude for what is here right now. Gratitude breeds more gratitude and reasons to be grateful.
Why Perfect isn’t an Ideal
Instead of searching for an elusive state of perfection, embrace life as a never-ending adventure. Each day is another opportunity to learn something new, take one step closer towards our most authentic self and strive for personal growth. After all, we were put on this Earth to live vibrant lives – let’s make the most out of every moment!
Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your health, seek immediate medical attention.