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Finding Beauty in Our Imperfections

Releasing Perfection for a Better Life Through the Ancient Japanese Philosophy of Wabi-Sabi

In our world, we live fast-paced, sometimes highly stressful lives. Judgment and the desire of meeting society’s standard of perfection is something many of us may struggle with. Living by the teachings of the ancient Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi can change our perspective on life, helping us find the beauty and appreciation in imperfection.

“Even when petals have flaws, all you see is a beautiful flower.” -Adrianne Elizabeth

Wabi-Sabi is an elegant philosophy that promotes a more connected way of living. Living a lifestyle the Wabi-Sabi way, one is more connected to nature, and thus, better connected to our truest inner-selves. Wabi-Sabi allows us to search for the beauty in imperfection by accepting what is flawed, impermanent, and incomplete. Perfection is unattainable by accepting this philosophy into our lives. Impermanence becomes the elusive beauty of life.

What is Wabi?

The term, Wabi, refers to living in tune with nature, paring down to the essentials, so that each object and moment are appreciated in it’s fullness. Open your heart, appreciate simplicity, detach from materialism, and you will experience spiritual richness.

What is Sabi?

The term, Sabi, refers to the concern of the passage of time. The passage of growth, age, and decay manifests itself into the beauty of an object. Beauty lies from beneath the surfaces, underneath the cracks, imperfections, and wrinkles.

Together, Wabi-Sabi promotes the thought of, “Accept what is, stay in the present moment, and appreciate the simple impermanent stages of life.”

Freedom is found through acceptance of what is. Surrender to the gravity of the situation, giving gratitude to all that is. Nature is always changing, therefore it is not perfect, and nothing can be absolutely complete. Perfection is a state of completeness. So, why do we put our body through such shame in attempting to sculpt it to perfection, not eating enough, over exercising, or disregarding the importance of nourishment? The attempt to achieve a perfect body is just one blurring out the understanding of what perfection truly is. The desire of looking younger is very popular as well with the usage of many different anti-aging products. What’s forgotten about is ageing with the passage of time is beauty itself. With imperfection, we should not compromise it, we need to accept the imperfections because that is the true nature of life. Just as nature is, life is fragile and temporary, so allow yourself to accept what is and find the love in the imperfections.

In Japan, broken objects are repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. When you are feeling broken, remember this. 

“Put simply, Wabi-Sabi gives you permission to be yourself. It encourages you to do your best but not make yourself ill in pursuit of an unattainable goal of perfection. It gently motions you to relax, slow down and enjoy your life. And it shows you that beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places, making every day a doorway to delight.” -Beth Kempton

Resources: 

Itani, O. (2021, April 24). 5 teachings from the Japanese wabi-sabi philosophy that can drastically improve your life. OMAR ITANI. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.omaritani.com/blog/wabi-sabi-philosophy-teachings.

Jobson, C. (2017, October 19). Kintsugi: The art of broken pieces. Colossal. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/05/kintsugi-the-art-of-broken-pieces/.

Shaireproductions.com. (2012, September 27). Imperfect flower. Flickr. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/shaireproductions/8030295044.

Walther, A. (2021, January 14). What is Wabi Sabi? the elusive beauty of imperfection. Japan Objects. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://japanobjects.com/features/wabi-sabi.

5 Effective Coping Skills for Recovery

5 Effective Coping Skills for Recovery

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5 Effective Coping Skills to Assist Your Journey to Recovery

Recovery is a journey. Recovery takes time. Recovery is your journey that you live and control day to day. Throughout this time, life stressors that you may not be able to control come into play and you may feel as if they are acting as a halt in the direction you were headed throughout your recovery journey. Life stressors may include starting back up at school, starting a new job or leaving a current one, an increase in financial obligations, taking care of an elderly family member, moving to a new home, worrying about a touchy conversation you need to have with someone, or even relationship stress. Facing this stress, it feels quite easy to rely on disordered coping skills. However, these disordered coping skills can mentally and physically play a negative impact on recovery. With an eating disorder and partaking in disordered coping skills, one’s eating disorder symptoms could heighten. Practicing healthy coping skills with your eating disorder will aid to the longevity of your wellness and nourishment journey. 

 

Here are 5 effective and healthy coping skills to handle those stressful bumps in the road that life may present in your path while you are on the road to your recovery:

 

  1. Did someone say Self-Care? Make yourself your own priority! Wash your face, brush out your hair, put on a face mask, and hop in that bath tub! Light your favorite candle. Enjoy Mother-Earth and the sunshine she has to offer by taking a walk outside and enjoying some fresh air. Listen to the soothing sound of the rain hitting your windows and meditate for 10 minutes. Get cozy and read a new book. Tidy up your living space, rearrange your closet or organize your dresser. Cook yourself one of your favorite meals or bring out your favorite family relative’s cookie recipe! Allow yourself 7-8 hours of sleep, being well-rested will aid in avoiding triggers.

2. Start a new hobby or activity, or return to one you truly enjoyed in the past. Run to Michael’s, grab a canvas and paint something beautiful, get creative! Start a new DIY project for something that would look great in your home, or something you can give to someone as a gift! Inquire through social media or online for a local book club if you enjoy a great read with people that share the same passion as you. Gather friends and family for a once-a-week game night, such as bowling, roller skating. You could even form a kickball team! Find your passion!

3. Journal it out! Keep a journal handy to write about your day. Write about your daily thoughts, emotions, something encouraging someone said to you that day, three things that you are thankful for.

 4. Recognize the way that you speak to yourself. Whether it be about your body, the food that you eat, or your actions. Write down the negative thought, and for every negative thought, on a separate piece of paper (let’s say a sticky-note) write down three positive thoughts about yourself. Now, throw away that negative thought and remove it from your mind-space as it falls into the trash, crumbled up and left behind. Take that sticky note with your three positive thoughts about yourself and place that on your mirror. Leave it there! Look at yourself in the mirror and read these positive thoughts out loud. Remind yourself how awesome you are. Speak these thoughts into existence to yourself and they will become a part of you! Self doubt and self blame will not cure your eating disorder. Uplift yourself. 

5. Reach out and lean on the community you have built around yourself of friends, family, loved ones, and others going through their own road to recovery. Associate yourself with those that you can trust. These people can help carry you throughout your journey when times don’t feel as easy or fair as they should to you. Allow them and involve them in your healthy coping mechanisms. You will be able to rely on these people when you allow them in, giving them your trust and them giving you theirs!

 

 

Sources:

3 tips for coping with triggers in Eating disorder recovery. National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, February 21). https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/3-tips-coping-triggers-eating-disorder-recovery. 

About eating disorders. Eating Disorder Foundation.org. (n.d.). https://eatingdisorderfoundation.org/learn-more/about-eating-disorders/coping/. 

To cope with stress, Try Learning Something new. Harvard Business Review. (2019, November 26). https://hbr.org/2018/09/to-cope-with-stress-try-learning-something-new. 

 

If only I had the time…..

If only I had the time…..

Let's Take Advantage

There are so many things that I would do if I only had the time. Guess what? We do!

We can use this time that we have right now to create positive change in our lives. How will you take advantage of being in quarantine. 

Here are a few of the things I came up with. 

1. Journal

2. Pay attention to our feelings

3. Spend time outdoors

4. Create structure in our lives.

5. Be rested

6. Meal Preparation

7. Read a good book

8. Start a new hobby 

9. Learn something new

10. Create a gentle yoga routine

11. Ask for support

12. Listen to inspiring podcasts

13. Take a deep breathe

14. Create a gratitude journal

15. Order a self-help workbook

16. Pray

 

 

Parents as Role Models Around Food and Body Image

Parents as Role Models Around Food and Body Image

  1. Why is it important for parents to model healthy eating?

Social psychologists have long explored how social experiences shape our cognitions and behavior. This type of learning, known as observational learning, provides children with the opportunity to watch a “model” (aka parent, sibling or authority figure) as they react to events in their environment. Observational learning is one of the most natural types of learning that we have available to us. The idea is we watch what the model does in a given scenario and then process that scenario or schema as desirable or undesirable; ultimately our behaviors are shaped by watching how others interact with their environment. We mimic and mirror what we see and have learned is valuable to our family system.

Food is a fundamental aspect of the human experience, we all need nutrients to survive and thrive. Unfortunately in today’s society, we have become hyper aware of image and perfection as a symbol for worthiness, resulting fad diets, preoccupation with weight / image, and a generalized sense of dissatisfaction with ourselves in comparison to a perceived ideal. Despite the negative impacts societal pressures can have on an individual’s image or self-esteem, there are many ways parents can buffer the effects of these pressures, not the least of which is healthy modeling. What does this mean? In short it’s teaching your kids to develop a healthy relationship with food by setting a positive example.

Our kids are watching us all the time (we aren’t as sneaky as we think we are), they see us reading labels and being conscious which is great! It’s a great opportunity for us to teach our children about food, nutrition, and healthy eating. Conversely, they see us cringing at calories, judging ourselves and our bodies in the mirror, and they sense the importance of image. We can be a gateway to a healthy lifestyle or we can inadvertently tell our kids that food is the enemy and image is everything. It’s easy to think this learning would have to be overt, that a dance teacher who pinches her students back would obviously result in an unhealthy relationship with food. But it can, and often does, happen far more subtlety, watching mom choose a salad time and again instead of getting what she really wants because she has attached a value to the food as bad. As with most things, moderation is key, it’s not so much what you are eating or feeding your family as it is the relationship with the food and experiences.

  1. What language should parents use/not use, around kids, to prevent unhealthy eating beliefs and behaviors?

Try to avoid making comparisons or comments, especially image oriented ones. For example don’t say,”Oh, Molly is so small, and I am just fat” or “Your friend Jen is so small and cute” “Comparisons like this aren’t helpful in promoting a positive self-image.

Kids going through growth spurts often grow out before they grow up. When your kids are in these spurts, don’t poke at them or their chubby cheeks. In general, try not to use all or nothing statements. That ice cream will make you fat, or those cookies are going to go straight to my hips. No one has ever died from a scoop of ice cream, just like if you eat a cookie or a few cookies, it doesn’t mean you are no longer loveable because your skinny jeans got a little snug. Kids don’t always have the gift of discernment, that’s another reason healthy modeling is so important. We get to teach them that food can be a wonderful and connecting experience. If you wouldn’t want someone saying it to you, then you probably shouldn’t say it to your child, they’re people too, just younger and more impressionable.

  1. How do our kids (unknowingly) teach us how to eat healthy?

Our bodies have natural triggers that tell us when we are hungry and when we are full. People don’t have to be taught when to eat or not, it’s a natural process that occurs and that we can become mindful of as we develop. Children haven’t yet learned to ignore their inner cues and will often adhere to appropriate portions when they are allowed to choose. Kids listen to their bodies, if they have cravings they typically fulfill them and move on with what they are doing. They don’t assign value or judgement to foods which means they are naturally more healthy in regard to portion control and enjoying the eating experience.

  1. How can we achieve health while feeling care free in the process?

Barring an allergy, one scoop, or cup, or plate of anything is not going to leave an indelible mark on our psyche or bodies. Remaining mindful as you eat and making food preparation a process and an act of love for yourselves and others can be a great way to bring joy and peace to a moment. If you struggle with your relationship with food, affirmations can be a great way to break the negative thought pattern. It may feel artificial at first, but keep saying the words, internalize that sense of peace with the food and the process of being healthy. Exercise can be a great way to mitigate depressive symptoms, as the endorphins released during and after a workout boost mood. Additionally, this can be a great way to channel your energy by doing something positive and active with your body, see what you are capable of, know that you are a blessing and that your body is a gift.

By Ashley Steelman, MSW

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