Ikebana, Slow Down, Be Creative and Connect to Nature: By Ilse Beunen
Ikebana is often translated as Japanese Flower Arranging, but I have mixed feelings about that translation. Ikebana is so much more flower arranging.
The ancient Japanese art form, ikebana, reconnects you to nature and yourself; it brings you into the moment while your creativity gives flowers and branches a second life.
For me, ikebana is a means to slow down, be creative and connect to nature. My mission is to inspire, educate, and empower people to connect with nature and express themselves through the creative art of ikebana.
Slowing down: Ikebana is a form of meditation; For some ikebana schools and teachers, this aspect is more important than others. Nevertheless, once you start arranging branches and flowers, you cannot think of anything else; you are getting into a zone and relax. If you are an ikebana artist, you don't need convincing, but for the skeptics, several scientific studies have linked ikebana to mental health and relaxation. One study found a significantly slower breathing rate when people with high anxiety watched pictures of ikebana.
Be Creative: Most ikebana schools have a curriculum with strict rules for inclinations and the length of the branches. This teaches you to look at the material and choose your material, and as you don't have to worry about the design, you can connect with your material. These arrangements also teach aesthetic rules, rules you will need for more advanced works. After mastering the preset arrangements, one can wander off into freestyle arrangements. Still taking with you the basic rules you have learned.
Connect to nature: I hear it all the time from my students. After a couple of months of doing ikebana, they all start to look differently at nature. While walking in the park, they recognize crooked branches and exciting lines in branches and flowers. After a while, you also start to appreciate the beauty in the imperfection, often called wabi-sabi. We prefer to work with crooked stems and irregular shapes and learn to make straight or uninteresting stems and branches more dynamic looking.
Ikebana has many faces; there is a genre for everybody. You can compare it to music. Some like classical music, others like country music, and some are into heavy metal. Ikebana is similar. Ikebana started as an offering in temples but evolved into an art form where one can make arrangements without green material.
I am trained in Sogetsu, one of the younger ikebana schools. More about the history and the different ikebana schools in one of our next blog posts.