698th Week:  Embracing What’s Imperfect

There is a Japanese philosophy called “wabi sabi”, which is about accepting and embracing that which is imperfect or flawed.  Most of you have probably seen kintsugi pottery, where gold is used to fill cracks that appear in a piece of pottery—a bowl, cup, vase.  One person who wrote about this said that kintsugi is how one can acknowledge the fact that the pottery object earned those cracks through the process of living and that filling the cracks with gold honors the fact of that experience.

Something in this philosophy appeals to me a great deal.  Learning to approach and celebrate the “cracks” in things, for me, touches on the important and powerful reality of wholeness.  None of us gets through life without being confronted with our imperfections in any number of ways and the practice of kintsugi honors the fact that we are all inevitably imperfect, flawed in many ways. It also supports the reality that it is these imperfections that reflect our unique life experience and history.

Here’s a link with photos of kintsugi pottery.  As you look at these photos, keep in mind that kitsugi recognizes that everything has a history and, rather than avoiding looking at the effects of that history, kitsugi approaches and addresses it.  https://www.google.com/searchq=kintsugi+philosophy&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=4pdqjnWbWr2mPM%253A%252CSGJGs4xxO9-4fM%252C_&usg=__ghO7gSZbZRCRY1Szn3Ky4xlYq10%3D&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjdwpLD57bYAhVB7CYKHUXIBb8Q9QEIYjAJ#imgrc=4pdqjnWbWr2mPM:

For this week’s experiment, I invite you to spend some time with the imperfections you have discovered about yourself over the years.  You may have addressed flaws in yourself that you now know how to manage more skillfully.  Notice how your imperfections and the “scars” left from your life experience are essential parts of your uniqueness.  There is no one on the planet who can replace you, and being able to celebrate all the elements of your being allows you to embrace the unique wholeness of who you are.

Along with the practice of acknowledging and accepting what’s flawed in you, this practice requires also accessing self-compassion.  We know that self-compassion is an important element in experiencing well-being.  Offering yourself compassion, just as you would offer it to others, promotes a deeper sense of wholeness and lessens isolation.  Here’s a link to some of the work of Dr. Kristen Neff, who has done a great deal of research on self-compassion:  http://self-compassion.org/the-three-elements-of-self-compassion-2/

Remember that, as you explore your wholeness, in terms of kintsugi and self-compassion, it helps to bring along curiosity as your constant companion.  Curiosity opens us, whereas judgment, fear, self-criticism, self-hate constrict us and shut us off from the dynamic well-being we can experience when we embrace our wholeness.  Also, please remember to pat on the head any and all judgments that arise, allowing them to move through and move on.  Judging seems to be inevitable for many of us but, as Buddhist teacher and psychologist Jack Kornfield says, it’s our relationship to judgment that counts.  Learning to notice judgments as just the next thoughts moving through our stream of consciousness can offer greater ease as we explore our experience of dynamic wholeness.

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