Updated 01 January 2022
“Still in the Stream” describes a state of low agitation that is maintained even as the turbulent flow of life surrounds us. My goal is to develop and strengthen this state as a home-base to return to and rest in as needed. Some traditions describe it as equanimity. Recently I heard Dr. Aimie Apigian call it “calm aliveness.” It is a robust inner composure that provides stability and clarity.
That is the ideal. Am I there yet? No, I can’t say that I have developed that home-base yet. I still spend a lot of time in a state of agitation and anxiety, and also a fair bit of time in a shut down depressed state. In the language of Polyvagal Theory I want to strengthen and encourage my ventral vagal responses, and reduce my hyper vigilance to threat and repeated activation of my sympathetic and dorsal vagal systems.
In this I have have made some progress but many factors are involved. These include my highly sensitive nature, my past traumas, and my deeply held defensive beliefs.
If you are on the same journey as me, if you are seeking a more resilient and robust state of equanimity in your own life, you are indeed very welcome here. My posts outline some things that have helped me, and my ongoing writing is related to my discoveries, growing understanding, and testing of various practices to aid the development of resiliency and equanimity.
Please check out my blog posts for this content and let me know in the comments if you find something of value, have a similar experience, or have recommendations for me.
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15 thoughts on “Welcome”
Richard, thank you very much for your research! I was inspired by the book “Wabi Sabi – the path of simplicity.” It is a pity that in Russia it is the only book that can help start the search for ways of Wabi Sabi in my own life. Now I want to read this site! Please continue your research! If possible, I’d love to chat with you!
Hi Yuriy, I just found your comment after being pre-occupied by other things for about a year. I’m currently writing a book, so the research of sabi, wabi sabi, and all things related continues. Your URL looks defunct. Are you still around?
Richard, good day! I was not hoping to get an answer! Thank you!
This is my mail email@example.com. I’m always available for this contact.
Hello Richard, I am so pleased to have stumbled over some rocks in the stream and found myself face-to-face with your blog site. I read your two Wabi Sabi books often, as part of my daily meditations. I give them to others regularly. (have to find them used online)
I’m very excited that you are continuing to write books. We need them down here in the States more than ever! Carry on! Charlene
Hi Charlene, I am very touched to hear that you are regularly reading my wabi sabi books. You must have an interesting journey to be so thoughtful and deliberate about wabi sabi. I have been watching the events, political and otherwise, in the States of late and it has guided my own reflections. Cultivating openness and an acceptance of impermanence is part of the solution to carrying on during such times. I hope you find what you need in the midst of all this!
Hi. I am writing an article on concpets like hygge, lagom, etc, and wabi sabi. Could you please send me a simple definition that I can quote? And also a few lines on why you became interested in this. My deadline is tomorrow! I can send you a pdf and link for your records. I would also need a simple portrait of you in high resolution.
Forgot to say this is for El Mercurio, the most important newspaper in Chile, South America
Hi Sofia, Sorry to have missed your deadline. I seem to have a problem getting notifications of comments, even though I have checked to make sure the settings are right in my control panel. Your request is a difficult one. defining wabi sabi is something I’m not sure I can do reliably as my understanding changes the more I experience it. If you still are interested, the definitions in the glossary of this site are pretty good: https://stillinthestream.com/glossary/
You might enjoy Harold Bloom’s *The Daemon Knows: Literature and the American Sublime* (not sure exact title)
I do like your blog
I’ve read Wabi-Sabi Simple and curious about the wabi sabi versus tech slick lists you and Leonard Koren have compiled. There are few differences between your two lists but I am struck by the absence of the degradability-maintenance pair from your list. I have my own grasp of the challenge deploying or interpreting that pair. There is an opportunity to associate maintenance and degradability both with wabi sabi and probably a belief that the modern or tech slick purport to escape both. Still I’d be curious to know why you left it off your list and know I ought reread Koren.
Also, in Wabi Sabi for Writers you have a list of wabi sabi fiction and I might propose the novels of Nicholson Baker, especially 1) Room Temperature and 2) Box of Matches if there is ever a revised edition of your book.
Great work on both books. I appreciate the depth and breadth with which you reflect upon Wabi Sabi.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment. The short answer to your question is that I am not sure I see degradability and maintenance as fitting on either list. Perhaps you have thought more deeply on this and can point me in the right direction. To me, all things degrade, but not all degraded things are wabi sabi. Recently, I have been collecting old cameras and lenses. They are definitely highly technical objects. I started collecting them to use, but recently I have been appreciating the aesthetic qualities of some of these older cameras. Like many new cameras, these old ones are beautiful in the iki sense. Sophisticated, understated, cleverly engineered, and beguilingly complex and simple at the same time. But some cameras, like the old Yashika I just bought for $20 with it’s worn leather case, are also wabi sabi. This old Yashika has been well maintained and cared for, yet there is variability in the colour of the metal, dents and dings, and fading in the lettering and it smells of cigar smoke. You can just feel something from it, a mellow beauty. The old tools inherited from my grandfather are the same, especially the chisels and square. They are still very functional, and have been maintained, but they are definitely wabi sabi, due in part to the build up of stains and the deepening of colours with age.
I recently visited a tea farm and will be writing a blog post about it. The owners embrace wabi sabi and reflect it in their tea and their tea utensils. It struck me as Victor was discussing the way tea is halted in the fermentation process in order to capture the desired flavours, and in talking about how the best tea comes after a hard winter when the bushes are stressed, that this is the dynamic of life pushing against harshness, of human involvement in “making” wabi sabi products. It goes to the philosophical question of if anything exists if there is no observer to witness it.
Wabi sabi is, in this sense, a judgement about the value of a thing before it has ceased to be valuable. Old tea leaves eventually becomes unusable, but for a period of time they continue to improve and improve. I have a 17 year old Oolong that is so smooth and subtle it reinforces my belief that age has the great power to improve things. I keep this Oolong carefully sealed in a moisture resistant container, maintaining it’s quality.
I look forward to hearing your take on the degradation/maintenance diad.
Regarding Nicholson Baker, I read Box of Matches and found it too… something. I didn’t feel much while reading it. So I’m not sure. That was a number of years ago so I could re-try it.
I just read your book, Wabi Sabi Simple and wanted to write to let you know how much I enjoyed it and how much it inspired me. Thank you for sharing it with the world, your work is appreciated.
Hey Amber, thanks for the lovely comment, it really means a lot to hear that. Thank you for taking the time and I hope your inspiration guides you to creativity and contentment.