For most of us, it is innate to find life lessons from what we do -  a hobby an adventure, or our daily routine. The desire to find what we can learn from doing something is always there. Since I started learning and practicing Ikebana, I try to connect the Ikebana techniques I learned to everyday life. However, it is not until recently that I become conscious of connecting the two. 

Sometime in mid-February, I started teaching Ikebana to a new student. She is eager to learn the Japanese flower art as a form of meditation and life journey.  As we discuss about the basic principles and techniques, she tries to reflect on them. Hence, we only not discuss about measurements of Shin, Soe, Hikae but we also talk about creating balance in real life. As she learns about space and elements, we also ponder on the importance of making time for things that make us happy.  Here are some of my personal life lessons which I learned over the years of practicing Ikebana.

Life Lessons and Ikebana


1. Always consider space as an important element.

When creating a flower arrangement, it is difficult to resist on putting as many flowers as we can. Thus, we sometimes end up having a big bulk of a thousand flowers in a small vase.  Similarly, we tend to fill our schedules with a variety of things every day. To the extent, that we are always in a non-stop rush and in a lot of stress.

In Ikebana, space is considered as an important element as much as the fresh materials. While arranging each stem, one must also be cautious in providing enough space around it. Why? Because each material is beautiful on its own. One must be able to see the beauty of the whole arrangement and at the same time be able to appreciate every single element in it.

Blue and Green for Ocean Day: Space and Water as Part of the Composition


2. Beauty and elegance do not need to be expensive.

With commercialism and popularism dominating our society nowadays, it is hard avoid the product bandwagon. Sometimes even if we cannot afford, we sacrifice our basic necessities just to buy a branded bag or pair of shoes.  For most of us, Ikebana is associated with elegance and beauty at a high cost. Simply put, an expensive hobby. However as I learn the different Ikebana styles and techniques, I also learn how to experiment with different materials. One does not always need to use pricey flowers and materials to come up with a beautiful arrangement.  I particularly got interested in using materials we use everyday at home and recyclable materials.

Repurposing Capiz Glass Coasters

3. Use the basics as your strong foundation.

At the start of studying Ikebana, one must first learn the measurements as well as the different placements of Shin, Soe, and Hikae. These are the three main stems when creating  basic Moribana and Nageire arrangements.  While it can be boring or daunting at some point, it is necessary to master these basics and use them as guide when creating freestyle arrangements. There are times in life when things can get too complicated. And the best thing to do is go back to the basics.

Learning the Basics: Shin: One of My Arrangements During My First Year as Ikebana Student

4.View things from different perspectives.

Back when I was doing flower arrangements in Manila, I always make it a point that all sides of my arrangement are the same. But with Ikebana,  I realised something different. Instead of striving to have everything exactly the same from all angles, I learned that creating different views of a single arrangement  gives more interest. Similar to life’s challenges, we need to look at the same thing from different perspective. With this, we can come up with different possible solutions and inspirations.

360-Degree Arrangement

5.When life is created, death will come.

I share the sentiments of others who feels sad when the flowers wither. I can relate to their desire of wanting to make their first Ikebana arrangement last for as long as possible. However one of core principles of  Ikebana is the Buddhist philosophy's Mujo. It means that nothing is maintained as you expect and that all is ephemeral. I guess that is one factor that makes Ikebana interesting. It is a reminder for us to be appreciative of people and things around us because they will not be there forever.

Cycle of Life: What Comes Down Must Come Up

I will try to add more on the list next time. For now, I hope you enjoy the photos as well as the life lessons. Happy weekend!