No, it’s not the contact details of that oddly-smelling dude from the bar last weekend who you assured you’d text after one too many cocktails. (iki-guy, get it? ….). I recently stumbled upon this picture of a venn diagram centred around the word ‘ikigai’ in an article on elephantjournal.com, and through a bit more research, was truly uplifted by what I read.
‘Ikigai’ is a Japanese word which translates to ‘the reason for being’ or a ‘reason to wake up each morning’. Aside from the obvious excitement at the prospect of that first cup of coffee or tiny ray of premature sunshine on the way to work in the morning, ‘ikigai’ is used in Japan to represent a healthy passion for that which allows us to feel fulfilled, satisfied, and valued.
Through assessing the connections between existing aspects of our own lives and those which we wish to or think could be included, it allows us to access a sense of accomplishment by helping to lay out a simpler path to put into practice the talents and potential we all hold.
It has been described as the outcome of “allowing the self’s possibilities to blossom’, – essentially what happens when we weed out the unhelpful and hindering thoughts, practices, and day-to-day negative activities which may have embedded themselves amongst the delicate bulbs of potential planted within us. It allows us to focus more on the task at hand, lessening distraction from your long-term goals or whatever passing sparkly thing proves just too tempting and intriguing to ignore.
But what has this got to do with yoga?
By breaking down the reality of each important element in our lives, the concept of ‘ikigai’ allows us to accurately consider exactly how and where our passions, talents, and desires may or may not be of benefit to us, and, like yoga, help to encourage and motivate us down a path directed towards correcting this.
It’s important to realise that this path itself will not have any one definite end – ‘ikigai’ supports the yogic concept of ‘enjoying the journey’; allowing the focus to shift from the end goal to the current process and current moment of simply getting there.
The passions and potential we acknowledge through finding our ‘ikigai’ is just the first necessary step on the long road to achieving a sense of contentment, and one which takes some self-reflection and meditation to acknowledge.
It’s important also to remember that sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is to actually sit down and admit to ourselves what it is we really want. Once you’ve recognised and accepted these natural instincts and talents, and truly devote the energy and attention required to help them manifest as reality, they become surprisingly easier and easier to access and therefore maintain this connection.
‘Ikigai’ is not an end goal, target number, weight, destination, or job title. It is not a world phenomenon or cure for disease, platinum selling-single, or award-winning movie.
‘Ikigai’ is something you can access anywhere, anytime, to bring you back to your current situation and accept yourself as you are. Although you might not be exactly where you’d like to be right now, the brilliance of ‘ikigai’ lies in the awareness that every moment you live now is contributing to a future sense of contentment that you will ultimately find if you continue living in the moment.
It is a strategic method to recognise that which defines us and all positive aspects of our lives, in order for us to begin incorporating them into our days to orchestrate a more enjoyable experience of our time here. If nothing else, it’s a way to motivate ourselves and encourage growth.
That’s it’s, really!
For more from Jenny see Upward Facing Blog