For all of the time spent seeking and reaching for words for the perhaps unsayable, intangible, and constantly shifting versions of me, I’ve come to one true conclusion: none of it actually matters. All that you really should know is this: I am just like you. Human. Imperfect. Navigating this beautifully messy terrain of life. I’m part heartbeat, part head full of questions, part seeker and part doubt. There are things I am fully certain of however, such as my all encompassing love for my family, the sweet animal that rests at my feet as I type (his name is O.B.), the fact that I care deeply about life in its purest form, and also my undying belief that it’s our birthright to experience it as such. There was once a time when I didn’t feel this way – when chemically induced escapism, starvation, and other forms of broken behaviour ruled my life – a time I now refer to (with a smile) as “The Dark Ages.” And because i’ve been told, by more than one mentor, to share my story i will elaborate. If the paragraph above does not suffice and you’re craving a little more context, strap yourself in and enjoy this little trip through my timeline…
BWS (Before Wabi-Sabi) The Dark Ages
I grew up a scruffy, sensitive kid, with a lopsided view of my Self, my body and my place in the world. I saw things though a filter of chronic deficiency. In my mind, I was never enough, always an “other” and eternally out of place. Enter the fray of adolescent angst and – I felt defective, Cracked, Impossible flawed.
Like many self-loathing teens, I went looking for comfort, security, connection, that feeling of being ‘OK’ in all the wrong places. In promised-lands of quick-fix, pseudo-stability where I was soothed temporarily by a (synthetic) sense of belonging, I dabbled with addictions, depression and eating disorders. Starved, psoriasis-ridden ‘sad-panda’, ‘purger’, ‘pill-popper’, ‘pipe-smoker’… I played a cast of self-destructive characters. All the while presenting a clean-cut, Got-It-Together, counterfeit copy to the world.
“If you put shame in a petri dish it needs three things to grow exponentially. Secrecy, silence and judgment” – Brene Brown
To the outside world I was highly functional. Internally, I was anxious, depressed and shadowed by the guilt and self-judgement of living a double life.
The turning point
Sometimes change simply comes because we grow tired of holding up our heavy stories. I had a swag full of beautifully fucked up life experiences – was emotionally stranded, felt hollow and achingly alone. I longed for sparkle-rocket hyper-awareness, clarity and comfort (that didn’t come from a glass pipe, purge, or pill)
The false start
I set out (as most do) in the direction of the self-help section. I embarked on one self-improvement venture after another, diving into the Eastern, Esoteric and Mystic modalities and devouring teachings from white-collar academics to spiritual shamans and energy workers. I developed a deeper, more multi-dimensional appreciation of my ‘self.’ I broadened my intellectual comfort zones and savoured some good, wholesome wisdom. However, deep pockets of shame and guilt have a stubborn way of persisting. It took several years (and relapses into broken, unhealthy behaviour) for me to stumble upon Zen Buddhist teachings. Specifically, it was in the principles of Wabi-Sabi and Vipassana meditation that I found the tools and practices to finally stop running from pain, and instead turn towards it.
“Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.” – Rumi
The truth works in puzzles
You see, as cliché as it sounds, it was only when I stopped looking for external validation and started honouring my internal realities that things began to fall into place. All this time, I’d been hanging out in my head, trying to figure ‘it’ out. Throwing everything under the harsh light of analysis however, did me no good. It only perpetuated ‘I’m broken’ beliefs and I had me absolutely fixated on fixing. I developed a good vocabulary, yes, but as it turns out, we experience the divine in a visceral, heart-felt way, not an intellectual one.
Once more, with feeling
This was my crossroads – my crystal clarity – my wake up. I began cultivating a wabi mind and heart by swapping shame for self-compassion and judgement – for radical kindness. By living life through the senses I loosened my grip on perfectionism and started to bring awareness to all parts of me. The fragile ineffable sorrows held in the hands of my heart – I stopped covering them up and pretending they weren’t there. ‘Lonely’, ‘Broken’ ‘Tender’ ‘Needy’. I gave myself permission to be (and feel) them all.
Fill it with gold
“When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” – Billie Mobayed
We learn over time that our power is ultimately derived from our pain. When we consciously and proactively rework the dark to light, we are literally churning our broken pieces into gold. This is what I like to think of as wabi-sabi. It is Kintsugi for the soul. This is the seed of our becoming, and the most transformative and transcendent work of all. Our sources of shame we once hid become our beacons of light we can now share. We remember that the pieces of ourselves that were once damaged goods are actually wellsprings of beauty. This is the alchemy of acceptance. I finally began to live in a new, exciting paradigm. I learned unconditional acceptance, embraced the wabi-sabi mindset, and found love, in more ways than one (salute to the sublimely synchronistic).
Which brings me to now – here with you
It’s time for a revolution; a revolution that expands a life to be fully lived and free. This is now me, sounding the clarion call to dig a little deeper – to move a little closer to our inside worlds. Because once we’ve tasted this type of life, we never want to break the contract we’ve been given that binds to our very souls. Wabi-Sabi Well is a devotional reminder as well as a method. It is a map, a guide, and a GPS for the soul. It is a tried and true template for transformation, driven by my own inward travels. I’m here to say, that I’ve never felt as tremendously, beautifully alive and so, feel a responsibility to help others realize the same. And that’s what it’s all about. If I can turn the dark places I’ve been to gold, then all is well.
Personal bits and pieces
I live with my forever-love Josh, in a yurt in the hinterland of Byron Bay. The property is perched lightly on the land. A veritable power point with sacred ley lines crossing through and constellations of Black Obsidian (crystal) underfoot. (One guess where our fur boy, O.B. got his name?) It’s disgustingly cliché, the quintessential, postcard-perfect Australian vista. You know, Eucalyptus and koalas in the backyard. I’m not even kidding! When I’m not helping people with their well-being you’ll find me sipping kombucha and laying in the dunes pretending to be a cloud.
Bits of paper (a.k.a professional bio)
Brieann is a certified Personal Trainer, Yoga, Mindfulness & Pilates Instructor, with over 15 years experience in the fitness industry. She conducts one-on-one sessions locally in Byron Bay and globally via Skype. She also takes group sessions at Byron Private Rehab – an integrative holistic residential treatment centre providing specialised support services for individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction, trauma, eating disorders and relationship issues. She is holds certifications in Thai Massage, Lomi Lomi Massage and Reiki and seamlessly weaves these offerings into her sessions.
Brieann holds a degree in Creative Industries (majoring in Journalism). She has been described as “a gifted wordsmith and poet.” As author Tara Bliss said, “I swear her prose is almost capable of changing DNA – it’s that beautiful.” You can read her work in Yoga Journal, over on her blog and in her upcoming book.
Dear friends, thanks for wandering so far through these words. Pop by and say hello sometime – on the blog, Instagram, Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Brieann DL