The great weather this summer has allowed me to really indulge my passion for spending as much time as possible outdoors, from early morning yoga overlooking the estuary, camping in beautiful craggy Cornwall to trying my hand at the wonderfully meditative pursuit of SUP (aka paddle boarding).
Being removed from my digital devices during these times has also provided me with the all-important head space I so often crave, enabling time for reflection and the opportunity to focus on the here and now.
I have often written about the importance of mindfulness or awareness practice in my own life and, for me, the most challenging aspect of it all is to practice without judgment, with acceptance of all that is.
In being mindful or aware, we learn to notice how we react in a situation, which at the same time can raise all kinds of negative thoughts and judgments about ourselves. However, the true gift is that, in that moment of awareness, we have a choice – the choice of how we respond rather than react.
Finding myself in a spiral of self-criticism recently, I came across an article on the Japanese principle wabi-sabi (said to be the most essential of life’s principles in Japanese culture).
Emerging in the 15th century as a reaction to the importance of lavishness, ornamentation, and riches, wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection.
This definition beautifully sums up how our mindfulness practice can bring about inner peace without judgment if we just allow ourselves to fully accept and appreciate who we are, as a result of everything (including perceived flaws) that has taken place in our lives.
“Bringing wabi-sabi into your life doesn’t require money, training, or special skills. It takes a mind quiet enough to appreciate muted beauty, courage not to fear bareness, willingness to accept things as they are—without ornamentation. It depends on the ability to slow down, to shift the balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting.” Robyn Griggs Lawrence, Natural Home
My husband has been a life-long fan of the work of Leonard Cohen, who sadly died just a month after I wrote this article. Now, I have to be honest, I’m a latecomer and it wasn’t until I took him to a Leonard Cohen concert for his birthday that I discovered the wonderful poetry and words of wisdom he conveys in his lyrics. I find these beautiful, simple words from his song “Anthem” very moving:
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
Of course there is no need to strive for perfection. He’s reminding us to get over ourselves, give ourselves a break and ultimately, enjoy the light that gets through the cracks as that’s where the creativity is, the real essence of who we are, if we are only prepared to let it in.
[*This article was first published in the November issue of the wonderful Om Yoga Magazine*]
With wellbeing wishes,