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Kintsugi: Metaphor for Healing and Resilience

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Blue Kintsugi bowl with gold fill surrounded by an oriental border

What is Kintsugi?

Kintsugi, which translates as "golden joinery," is rooted in the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which embraces imperfection. The story goes, a 15th-century military ruler, Ashikaga Yoshimasa* sent his favorite tea bowl back to China to be repaired. When it returned, he was disappointed with the finished result and asked a local craftsman to find a more aesthetically pleasing method of repair. The new solution emphasised the cracks in the bowl highlighting them with precious metal lacquers, rather than trying conceal them, and Kintsugi was born! Over time, the craft became so popular that people started deliberately breaking their ceramics, simply so they could repair them using the bold gold, silver or platinum lacquer to emphasizing the beauty of imperfection and embracing the ceramics history.

Kintsugi: Metaphor for Healing and Resilience

This ancient technique of Kintsugi offers a powerful metaphor for the healing process. When we begin our healing journey we break open, like the pottery. It can be a specific life event or that we are just hurting enough to make changes or perhaps simply motivated enough to improve. Healing these pain points is the lacquered gold that reconnects the pottery (reconnects the self) in a new, stronger way and often in a more beautiful configuration. Rather than disguising cracks or breakages or wishing them to go away, Kintsugi highlights these flaws in the same way that when we heal our very cracks, hurts and pains they are our avenue to becoming whole, unified and possessing a greater fluidity in our life force. As an alternative healer, I have often engaged with clients who want to "be fixed," want their brokenness to magically go away but it is exactly the embracing, the pillowing of the pain with the presence of breath, the being together with our hurts that remediates us to wellness. Like our healing, Kintsugi not only makes the

pottery complete again but also transforms it into a unique piece, that is different, more beautiful with additional capacities and strengths to weather life's storms.

Kintsugi truly is a metaphor for healing and resilience. Kintsugi symbolizes resilience, transformation, and the acceptance of scars as a testament to one's journey. The parallel between the art of Kintsugi and the healing process is striking, as both emphasize embracing imperfections, transformation and supplieness, honoring the journey and finding beauty in the flaws of imperfection.

Healing and RSVP Everyday

The steps of healing through the lens of Kintsugi are similar to my RSVP Everyday program:

  • Recognizing the broken pieces, the parts of ourselves that are constricted and bound

  • Stopping and resting in that recognition for a moment , feeling

  • Verifying and acknowledging the incongruencies in what is true for us and reconstructing the parts in a newly defined sense of self that is whole, flowing and representative of our true self

  • and having Passionate Compassion for ourselves and our ability to embrace and accept ourselves through the difficulties in our transformations.

  • Everyday, because healing is a journey not an event

The art of Kintsugi beautifully mirrors the complex and multifaceted process of healing. As we navigate our growth orientation, we can draw inspiration from this ancient practice to find beauty in healing our imperfections, resilience in our struggles, and strength in our transformation. Like Kintsugi art, we too can become more valuable and radiant through the mending of our brokenness, emerging with a renewed sense of self, greater energy and a deeper, broader, richer relationship with both ourselves and the world.

Need assistance mending your emotional wounds? Eileen is an alternative healer who has completed 15 vision quests enabling her to be a clear and effective conduit for your personal growth. She has worked with somatic breathwork practices for the last 9 years and is a certified Unified Mindfulness Coach Contact

* Ashikaga Yoshimasa was the 8th shogun of the Ashikaga Shogunate who reigned from 1449-1473 during the Maromachi period in Japan.

15th century painting of Ashikaga Yoshimasa
Ashikaga Yoshimasa

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