Wabi Sabi. The ancient Japanese tradition of discovering beauty in imperfection is experiencing something of a renaissance. In a world where we’re constantly striving to achieve perfection we show you how to embrace your inner wabi sabi and recognise the complex, imperfect beauty that is you (just as you are). In this post we examine;

  • What is Wabi Sabi?
  • Where did it come from?
  • Wabi Sabi & wellness
  • How can you embrace the concept in your own life?
  • Wabi Sabi quotes

What is Wabi Sabi?

You may have already heard of Wabi Sabi and wondered what it is. For the last few months it has been creeping into everything from interior design, fashion and lifestyle choices. Translations of Wabi Sabi are complex as the meaning has evolved over time with ‘wabi’ originating in 15th century China, referring to the ‘rustic simplicity’ of living alone or living remotely in nature. The concept made its way to Japan evolving further still with associations to the tranquility Japanese tea ceremonies. Old, handmade, cracked or chipped cups were used, admired for their imperfection, beauty and lack of symmetry. More recently translations refer to ‘fresh’, ‘elegant’ or ‘quietness.’ Wabi translates as ‘beauty in imperfection.’ Wabi Sabi embodies the acceptance of this intransience. It is the art of imperfection.

Where did Wabi Sabi come from?

The root of the concept of wabi sabi lay in Zen Buddhism, with an emphasis based upon the Buddhist concept of the three marks of imperfection, acknowledging the beauty and worth of impermanence, intransigence and imperfection.

Wabi Sabi caught our attention because ultimately, it’s all about embracing imperfection rather than striving for the impossible goal of the perfect life. We think that’s not a bad worldview to adhere to, especially in a world dominated by social media and the need to constantly present your flawless ‘best self’. We’re bombarded by the pressure to be more, have more, achieve more, want more. It’s exhausting keeping the mask in place. Wabi wabi provides us with an opportunity to be more authentic, embrace the imperfections and flaws inherent in being human.

Wabi Sabi and Wellness

We know from happiness studies that self referential processing (that’s comparing yourself to others) hurts us along with those we’re taking a sneaky sidewards glance at. While we’re busy looking at other people and wishing for more, or feeling relieved that things aren’t that bad for us, we’re very rarely enjoying being in the present. All this fuelled by our constant connection to tech and addiction to social media leaves us feeling depleted. Wabi Sabi is the perfect antidote.

How can you embrace Wabi Sabi?

Wabi Sabi is about simplicity, authenticity, the acceptance of imperfection.

  •  Self Acceptance

You can breathe a sigh of relief. It’s a well kept secret that none of us are perfect. It’s ok to ditch the photoshopped veneer of social media and accept yourself just as you are. Learn to be kind to yourself. Practice mindful non judgement. Notice when you’re doing it and recognise that redundant self talk. Stop criticising yourself and drop the judgement. Disrupt you inner narrative by re-wiring those default habitual patterns. If you’ve been fixating on a particular flaw, reframe that focus and and notice how what you see as flaws make you unique.

  • Mindfulness

Dial down the stress in your life by living more mindfully. Consider living more simply by only buying what you need and decluttering the excess crap that you’ve been hoarding. Bring mindfulness to your everyday actions. If you’re eating go tech free, switch off your TV, forget your phone and truly appreciate the food in front of you, savouring every mouthful. If you’re walking in nature notice the natural world around you; the trees, the colours, the aroma of grass. Take in all that is around you. Use all of your senses to connect with nature, a key concept in wabi sabi.

  • Impermanence

Wabi sabi is a reminder that nothing is permanent. If you beat up on yourself when you fail, take a step back and reframe it, remember, failure is how we learn. Adopt a growth mindset and look for learning information. Ask yourself what you can learn from the experience and how can you approach the same situation differently next time, Not only will you be building your growth mindset neurons and increasing your neuroplasticity, you’ll also be developing resilience and grit.

Wabi Sabi Quotes

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in Leonard Cohen

Simplicity os the ultimate sophistication Leonardo Da Vinci

If you look for perfection you will never be satisfied Leo Tolstoy

Nothing lasts. nothing is finished. Nothing is perfect. Anonymous

A certain type of perfection can only be realised through limitless accumulation of the imperfect Haruki Murakami


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