I often pick a book, and open it at a random page using my finger to pinpoint a paragraph. I then use it as a daily reflection.
Mid this last week, I re-opened ‘Wabi Sabi’ by Beth Kepmton, one of my favourite books of all time. It’s beautiful and the audio version is out of this world.
The words I read were: ‘We each had to pick a direction, and look first to the far-right distance, then the middle distance, then up close, to see how the same view changed, depending on what we focused on’. She was describing an exercise she untertook on a retreat to teach the power of perspective.
What is Wabi Sabi?
Wabi Sabi was introduced to me last year on a photography course. It combines two Japanese words, Wabi and Sabi – frequently used individually, but interestingly, they are rarely documented in relation to each other in Japanese literature.
It’s more of an intuitive concept, which is hard to put into words – and best understood by the right brain. It’s meaning is integrated, by watching and feeling into things. The writer of this book describes absorbing this philosophy by osmosis, whilst spending significant time in Japan.
Wabi Sabi gives as much importance to what is not said or present as to what is – and then honors in full technicolour glory the beauty of what is. As what is, is just as it should be.
It has parallels to the shamanic practice of ‘not-doing.’ A seemingly simple idea such as looking at the spaces between the leaves, rather than the leaves themselves. Or focusing on the details of an object until the object disappears. On a basic level, it exercises your mind in perspective change. But if you really want to bend your brain you can make things disappear.
We live in a metaphysical world, and things are only as they are, according to you, based on your filters, beliefs, judgements, and perspective. As Wayne Dyer said, ‘If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change’. You are the one in control.
Changing my Perspective
Changing perspective is a powerful tool. It occurs continuously, often unnoticed, but you can also direct it consciously. I experienced it vividly this week, primarily because I was focusing on it.
I had been ‘battling’ with my house – trying to perfect the décor and arrangement in preparation for hosting a lunch with friends. Having been through a deep energetic transition recently, everything in my environment needed updating. But as you probably have experienced, as you move or change one thing, everything else looks wrong or dirty or out of place. And a half-finished redecoration nightmare was not how I wanted to project my home to guests soon to be arriving. It was imperfect, and instead of appreciating the beauty it reflected of the place I am at, currently in this moment of time, I wanted to impatiently fix up and smooth everything out, indulging my perfectionistic tendencies. I hit roadblocks every step of the way and finally, I gave up. I accepted I couldn’t get it all done and focused instead on being calm and relaxed and good company. This is after all what they came for 😊
After a lovely lunch we went for a walk in nature. Breathing in the fresh air from the trees and being away from the computer, intense work projects and my mad DIY mission, the walk was very much needed, and I regained a sense of peace and clarity.
It was only by surrendering to the reality that everything is impermanent, imperfect and incomplete – and yet can still be beautiful and ‘perfect’ despite that – that I could then see the beauty in the progress I have made in recent weeks, instead of focusing on what still is left to do.
This is Wabi Sabi. Appreciating the perfection in imperfection based on our own response to it. If we look at what we have achieved, despite the harsh reality of limits on time and resources; as long as we are moving forwards, that’s good enough. And if you look back – to where you were a year ago, hopefully you can see you have progressed.
No one’s house, life, figure, relationship etc are ever ‘perfect’- well, that’s my perception. It’s based on your filters. For most people, these things are a continual work in progress. And I have personally learnt that progress, not perfection is the goal.
The external aspects of our lives are all evolving mirrors, that continuously reflect where we are at. Whilst fixing things that are broken, and freshening / rejuvenating any aspect of our home, relationship or life is highly beneficial energetically, it is the journey not the destination that counts. And don’t forget, we are often our own harshest critic.
The Process Continues
After my friends left, I was later wrapping a gift and searching for a card in my drawer to accompany it. I found one that had almost got binned. When I looked at it initially, as in its correct upright position – it symbolised a setting sun / closing / even decaying energy. However, when I turned it around, it suddenly became a tree with a ball of fire – projecting forwards. Wood feeds fire in the Feng Shui cycle of elements – and the image changed to one of positive forward motion. This reminded me of my unanswered perspective query and the perfection/imperfection loophole that the Wabi Sabi life philosophy can be utilised to 'solve' problems simply by reframing them. The card I am sending is now imperfectly written by traditional card writing rules, (AKA upside down), but it is perfect to send it like this – and now has the precisely the symbolism it requires.
The Importance of Simplicity
Another key element of Wabi Sabi is to honor the importance of simplicity, as a route to peace and contentment.
As I mentioned above, my week was jammed workwise, whilst my heart yearned for a bit of me-time and quiet, relaxed simplicity. I did a quick tarot reading, regarding work. I pulled the seven of cups. This card represents lots of opportunities – but you have to pick what is true to your heart. I didn’t, I carried on like a trouper. But I acknowledge that was a choice that I made, which is a step towards change. We can’t instantly change our core personality traits, but we can become more aware of them and more conscious. Acknowledgment and acceptance is step one.
I am very conscious - we have limited time on this planet. And I don’t believe in waiting to retire to live the life you want. Every second is a precious gift, and we have to be extremely discerning as to where we allow our energy to be spent. Putting boundaries around time is crucial and keeping focused on that one critical thing to do each day is the way to live a fully soulful live, which cycles back to simplicity. We can only achieve one or two key things in a day – three at a push. So we have to priotitise time accordingly. A friend said to me tonight, she's been inspired this week to follow her joy. That's the way to do it.
Using Mediation and a Change of Scene as Your Superpowers
Meditation at the start and end of each day, on key priorities (morning) and progress with these (evening) – is the one thing I find most helpful in staying aligned to staying on track. Even if not every day, checking in, making lists, vision boards and re-centering all add up to creating and living a more fulfilling life.
And getting out of your normal environment, even for a walk, will help you to see things from a fresh point of view.
We learnt a lot during lockdown about this, with the change in pace and reduced distractions. But it is so easy to revert back to old behaviours and patterns, as the tempo returns back to full speed ahead, if not faster. I believe there is not a need to make up for ‘lost time’. If reframed, true power is to integrate and manifest the gifts that that ‘cocoon’ gave us. The pandemic, as hard as it was for some people, was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
And just as I finish writing this, my friend and teacher, Dr Kurt Eburt messaged me. He must of felt me tuning in to him. One of my favourite quotes from him that I'll never forget is: 'Mind over matter - If you don't mind, it doesn't matter'. This is the simple, profound reality of life. It all boils down to how you look at it.
I, Rachel Manning - am a Feng Shu consultant, Astrologer and EFT Practitioner with 30 years experieince, based near Ipswich, Suffolk. If you need emotional support or help finding a new direction, I offer a free 30 minute online call to discuss you situation and how I can help. Appointments are available online and at my studio in Woolverstone, Suffolk. If you would like to arrange a no-obligation discussion, please call or text me on 07780 612625. Everything is strictly confidential.
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