Nurturing Your Inner Garden - Roxana Roshon, Naturotherapist, Ph.D.

Wabi-sabi: Embracing Our Imperfections

Posted February 28, 2020

Got your interest with that title, didn’t I?


Several months ago, Steve and I heard the term “wabi-sabi” (pronounced whah-bee saw-bee) on our car radio. I have been fascinated by it ever since. This exotic word captures our attention. Possibly originating from China and Zen Buddhism, this practice was embraced by the Japanese and recently popularized. Historically, being able to find beauty in the less than perfect was considered one of the keys to enlightenment. Through this Japanese phrase, we are encouraged to celebrate the beauty within and recognize our imperfections. One version of this Japanese legend tells of a young man, Sen no Rikyu, who was learning the Way of Tea. He was tasked with cleaning up the garden. Once the garden was immaculate, he shook a cherry tree to add a few blossoms randomly sprinkled over the ground.  

Wabi-sabi celebrates cracks and flaws in everything. It reminds us that we, and all our belongings, are transient. Wabi-sabi requires a quiet mind and appreciation of defects. “Kintsugi” is a Japanese art form in which cracked pottery is repaired with gold infused resin to accentuate the blemishes. This transformative thought pattern can be combined with an improv exercise so that we celebrate our perceived failures and resist moving into self-judgement. It’s about finding value in our uniqueness, plus understanding that perfection corresponds to having nothing left to learn

My nurturing and compassionate sides are embracing this gentle way of recognizing my human flaws. I’ve spent way too long looking at my imperfections, bringing in self-doubts, and allowing them to slow down my progress. If you also have uncertainties about yourself and your life, gently shake a nearby tree (pr a tree in your mind’s eye) and add some spring blossoms to your inner landscape.

Celebrating My Imperfections,