All posts filed under: Sabi

Stones at the Sea Edge

The Quality of Light

My father was a master of illusion. Early in his career he was a photoengraver. He etched images in copper plates to run on mechanical presses. Later he worked the large camera in a newspaper’s composing room. He was an expert at creating half-tones, those images newspapers use that are made up of variously spaced and sized dots. Given enough distance from the surface, you don’t see the dots, and your brain’s pattern recognition system creates a meaningful image. Dad enjoyed the process, the technical challenges, and the end result. He was a stickler for quality, frustrated at younger workers who didn’t want to learn the subtler nuances of the craft, didn’t see the point of excellence in daily details. On Friday evenings when I was in junior high, I would stay downtown and wander from pinball arcade to Chinese restaurant to street corner with friends and then around 11:30 I would head to the newspaper office to get a ride home with Dad. If I got there early I sat on a stool inside …

Coming Out as an Empath

The same sensitivity and awareness that causes increased pain, also empowers empaths to know deeper and richer levels of solitude, sabi, and mono no aware. They see all kinds of beauty and they tend to see it everywhere. They feel deep connections in nature, and with others. Their heart it touched every day.  I intuitively knew that if I numbed my pain, I would also numb my joy.

Back Pain and TMS

TMS, or Tension Myoneural Syndrome, is a theory that explains the kind of pain that persists for long periods despite the absence of clear physical damage or injury. It is most often associated with back, neck, and intestinal pain, but has been applied to a wide variety of conditions including itching, tinnitus, and fibromyalgia. Even when physical abnormalities such as a bulging disk seems to present a likely cause, the strategies taught by Dr. John Sarno and others are effective at reducing and often eliminating the pain. One of the best explanations of TMS is in this video by Dr. Howard Schubiner: Dr. Schubiner and Dr. Sarno focus on education as a means to help people see the “true” cause of their pain, and then take steps to eliminate it. After first reading Crooked and Everyone has Back Pain, I read Dr. Sarno’s book, The Mindbody Prescription: Healing the Body, Healing the Pain. Towards the end of the book Dr. Sarno lays out the formula for exposing and confounding the brain’s covert plan of distraction-by-pain, by exploring the emotional issues underlying …

Ice on Water

Non Dual Thinking

When I wrote about why sabi was important, I touched on it’s role in fostering non-dual thinking. Non-dual thinking is a bit of a buzz word in certain Integral and “Progressive Christian” circles. Two of my favorite writers, Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault, have been speaking about it for many years, and I’ve heard some interviews in which advocates for non-duality claim to see a perspective even beyond non-duality. But for now, I think it is fair to say that most of us need to first experience the shift to non-dual thinking. But why? Non-dual thinking grows almost unconsciously over many years of conflict, confusion, healing, broadening, loving, and forgiving reality. – The Center for Action and Contemplation. Dualing Thoughts Most thinking involves a process we call categorization. The word category comes from the Greek word, kategoria which literally means accusation. In it’s verb form kategorein means “to speak against; to accuse, assert, predicate.” Going even deeper we discover that the root kata means “down to”  or “against.” Aristotle used the word to refer to …

Sabi is the Bedrock of Zen

John G. Rudy in his book, “Wordsworth and the Zen Mind” says sabi is the bedrock of Zen enlightenment. Here is the full quote: Chief among the moods of Zen – and the one that, for all practical purpose, forms the bedrock of Zen enlightenment – is sabi, the spirit of non-attachment or freedom. – John G. Rudy This matter-of-fact assertion by a scholar deeply immersed in the poetic work of the English Romantics seems at first to be slightly provocative. Provocative for me because I’m not sure if I would say that sabi is the spirit of non-attachment. Sabi is Paradoxical As I explored here, I see sabi as a paradoxical state or mood; a combination of loneliness and satisfaction, or perhaps even sadness and contentment. These elements are popularly considered both negative and positive respectively – thus the paradox. How is this possible to be contented and lonely at the same time? I think if we can answer that question we will glimpse the mechanism at the heart of sabi’s essential “spirit.” Sabi is Internal Before …

Trees in the Mist

A Long Missed Shift

There have been NO MUSHROOMS in Nanaimo so far this fall. With failing hope on my walk today I wandered from time to time off the trail, poking mournfully at the ground with my walking stick. Eventually I gave up and decided to just enjoy the walk. As I came around one curve in the path I stopped and looked at this scene: Something in the way the branches filled up the space with horizontal lines, the autumn light, late in the day, and the deep reassuring stillness caused a sort of mental pop in my head. I felt it like a knot un-knotting. Pop, un-knot. I was suddenly full of a warm shy contentment angling up towards joy at the edges. I smiled. It has been a very long time since such a feeling has come to me. I carried on down the trail, swinging my stick and breathing in the green smelling air, lungs not big enough to take in as much as I would like, shoulders not broad enough to throw back …

The Welcoming Prayer

Sadness, loneliness, depression — feelings most of us don’t welcome. Speakers like Tony Robbins and Sharon Pope as well as a growing number of Psychologists say that suppressing or avoiding feelings is not good for us. Experiments show that suppression of emotions leads to increased sympathetic activation of the cardiovascular system and worse memory for social information such as names or facts about individuals seen on slides 1. There are also authoritative references that link cancer to a “type C personality.” Type C personalities are known for their tendency to “suppress wants, needs and desires.” 2. The implication being that suppressing these things increases the risk of cancer. Dr. Gabor Mate explains that the type C personality does not predestine a person to get a disease. Instead the type C personality predisposes a person to certain ways of thinking that increase stress. It’s like a kind of internal stress magnifier. Since our ways of thinking can be changed, there are ways we can reduce our risk. The Welcoming Prayer is one of them. The Welcoming …

Continuing To Be Still In The Stream

Originally Posted 19 July 2015 Updated 04 November 2017 Shortly after the publication of my first book on wabi sabi in 2004 I created a website called stillinthesteam.com. I maintained a full site with contests, articles, and news, for 10 years, then transferred my domain name here in July of 2015. I want to shift my focus from the wider wabi sabi ideal, to the application of sabi in everyday life. I still believe that the the phrase “still in the stream” captures the paradox and joy I’m following, and also searching for. When I started my 100 lakes project it was a way to more deeply explore sabi through a practice known as Kanjaku. The 100 lakes blog was largely a series of travelogs with the occasional post of my philosophical musings. Over the years I launched new blogs to try to chronicle some of the inner journey I have been on, but as is often the case for me, and those with similar personalities to mine, I don’t seem to make much progress …