Wabi-sabi…celebrating imperfection

Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” Richard Powell

Of the many translations of wabi-sabi that I have read, the following is my favourite.

Wabi…a rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, that can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, an understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance of the object.

Sabi…the beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs.

Around 700 years ago, particularly among the Japanese nobility, understanding imperfection was honored as tantamount to the first step to satori, or enlightenment. In today’s Japan, the meaning of wabi-sabi is often condensed to “wisdom in natural simplicity”. In art books, it is typically defined as “flawed beauty”.

When I am forest bathing with a group and we stop to share what the forest has revealed to us, I often hear stories of noticing the exquisite beauty of the scars, decaying limbs, and twisted imperfection in the trees around that surround us.

Wabi-sabi describes a means whereby we can learn to live life through the senses and better engage in life as it happens, rather than be caught up in unnecessary thoughts. The idea is that being surrounded by natural, changing, unique objects helps us connect to our real world and escape potentially stressful distractions.

Wabi-sabi is where we find the most basic, natural objects interesting, fascinating and beautiful. Fading autumn leaves would be an example. Wabi-sabi can change our perception of the world to the extent that a chip or crack in a vase makes it more interesting and softens our heart, to view the beauty of its imperfection through empathetic eyes.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Healing Power of Trees

environment forest grass leaves
Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Forest Therapy, also known as forest bathing, is an ancient technique practiced by cultures all over the world. In Japan, where it is used as part of their healthcare system, it is known as shinrin-yoku. Forest Therapy, by any name, is all about slowing down and being mindful of your surroundings to the receive the healing magic of the forest.

When practicing Forest Therapy we first create a firm intention to leave our inner chatter behind. By combining mindful breathing with the presence of trees, we tune into our senses to make a deep connection to nature. Not only does this feel amazing but research has shown that time spent forest bathing can lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce production of the stress hormone cortisol and boost the immune system.

Trees naturally give off phytoncides, or wood essential oils, to protect themselves from germs and insects. When inhaled these oils have a beneficial impact on our nervous system. Our forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes. “Forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better –  inhaling phytoncides seems to actually improve immune-system function” concluded a study of forest bathing by researchers from Japan’s Chiba University.

Forest bathing can soothe our minds and soothe our bodies – all we need to do is get out there and enjoy it!

leelah

leelah”

adjective [lee-lah] 

definition: playful; lighthearted; joyous.

 

A youthful mind is playful and lighthearted. It laughs easily, genuinely and with abandon.

Play and recreation go hand in hand. Play is literally an opportunity to recreate…why not recreate yourself? When you play with abandon, you enter into the present moment. You let go of the past and forget about the future.

The ego, on the other hand, is serious. It is solely concerned with power, control, and approval. When you relinquish your need to control, withhold and manipulate, and simply allow the universe and life to unfold, you create a natural state of ease, which predisposes you to lightheartedness and laughter.

Laughter is the best medicine for body and mind. Scientific studies have shown that laughter can strengthen the immune system and ease depression.

Laughter is a symptom of spirituality. Laughter is the flow of love coursing through your body. It heals. Laughter is the nectar of present moment awareness.

Play and enjoy. It will keep you young in body, mind, heart, and soul.

leelah goat yoga

Everything in natures resonates with the force of the Divine spirit. When we practice Mindful Yoga in the presence of these adorable little goats, staying fully present through breath and mindful movement, a natural integration with their playful, joyous spirit evolves.

Every animal has it’s own movements and postures. Adopting the guise and movements of an animal is a way of awakening to it’s essence and the spirit manifesting through it. The door opens to a deeply healing experience.

As we shape shift in this way, we stretch and strengthen our imagination. We begin to master the art of observation, looking for what we can learn from these open, loving beings.

For example, their knowledge of how to climb and jump teaches us how to trust in our ability to land on our own feet. The flexibility of their skeletal system teaches us to stretch and reach for new goals. The goat energy of balance and sure-footedness can help us regain perspective and life balance when difficulties pull us back.

Above all they remind us how good it feels to let loose, laugh, and have fun. All animals love to play…and so do we!

P.S. leelah is the Sanskrit word for playful!