I have only recently discovered the gorgeous girls from Wabi Sabi Well and have been diving into all the goodness that you can find on their website.
Today I am bringing you my interview with Caitlin Nowland, one half of the beauty and brains behind this revolutionary mixture of yoga, meditation and personal training. I wanted to share Caitlin’s story with you as I love how raw and honest she is with sharing her own personal journey of self-healing with her body. We both hope you enjoy it as well. So let’s dive in …
For my readers who may not know you I’d love for you to start by telling us who you are, what you do and how you are making a big impact in the world right now?
I’m originally from the U.S. but I now live in Byron Bay, Australia with my husband Loren and our two little wildlings, Oliver and Isla and our dog Tui. Along with my business partner Brieann, I am co-creator of Wabi-Sabi Well– a comprehensive, holistic formula fusing metabolism-boosting movement, yoga, mindfulness, bioenergetic techniques, meditation and deep relaxation. The method integrates not just the physical, but also the emotional and spiritual elements to help you reconnect and return to a healthy state of balance, harmony and well being.
I’m really interested in knowing where the name Wabi Sabi Well came from. Can you share with us what Wabi Sabi means and how you integrate the philosophy behind it’s meaning into the work that you do?
Yes! The word wabi-sabi is steeped in meaning. Here’s the scoop. Back in the day, (we’re talking 16th century) a Japanese Tea Master named Sen no Rikyu tasked his son with tending to the garden. The boy undertook the assignment with zeal, cleaning up all of the debris in the garden, polishing each stone, raking the ground until it was flawless, tidy. Perfect. Rikyu stepped back and surveyed his son’s work. Rikyu approached a cherry tree and shook it so that a few bright blossoms spilled randomly, disheveling the perfectly manicured garden. This is the spirit of wabi-sabi. Striking a balance between immaculate perfection and the authenticity and natural beauty of imperfection.
Wabi stems from the root “wa” and refers to harmony, peace, tranquility and balance. Poetically, it means simple and in tune with nature. Sabi translates to “the bloom of time.” Wabi-sabi then, is the art of seeing beauty in impermanence and imperfection – in revering authenticity above all else.
Wabi-Sabi Well is our business name, but it also describes our philosophy and way of being in the world. It’s a willingness to accept things as they are and find wisdom in nature. It is an invitation to shift your focus from doing to being, from perfecting to embracing, from conflict to connection. It’s a clarion call to loosen your grip and reframe the way you see yourself and the world around you. We believe that it’s the secret to a lasting, harmonious relationship with yourself.
You have obviously discovered the key to your own physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. But I know that you have had quite a journey, particularly with your body, to get to the place you are at now. Can you share with us a little bit about your story and what drove you to dive deep into the world of health and wellness?
Like everyone, my backstory has a lot to do with the path that I’m on. Like so many girls, in my teenage years I struggled with an eating disorder and depression. Binging, purging, calculus level calorie counting, obsessively exercising, yep, yep, yep. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Midway through my freshman year in college, my grades were picture-perfect, my diet was calculated down to the square root of sweet f all and my body (and personality) had all but faded away. My family intervened and I withdrew from classes to seek help. Psychologists and psychiatrists and prescriptions helped bridge the gap, but one day I woke up and couldn’t tell how I felt. Through the fog of anti-depressants and mood regulators, I just couldn’t feel…anything.
I realised that in my case (and I GET that this isn’t the case for everyone) that I had to decide to be happy. I had to wake up and fight for it every day by making decisions and choices that contributed to happiness. I didn’t know how to do this, I didn’t have the tools. At all. But I decided I’d just figure it out. Unwinding negative patterns and obsessive behaviour? It ain’t easy, sister. I’m sure many of you know that all too well.
Simultaneously, in the space of 4 years I contracted mononucleosis, Epstein Barr virus, Dengue Fever and finally, Lyme Disease. These diseases literally brought me to my knees and changed my life forever. For the better. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true.
I was battered, bruised, broken and depleted on pretty much every level possible. I had some serious healing to do. As I slowly rebuilt my immune system over the next 10 years I happily committed to whatever it took – antibiotics, Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, vitamin injections, IVs, hot baths, ginger tea and wet socks, GI tests, Vitamin C flushes, elimination diets, you name it, I did it. Fully. Committed.
But what I struggled with was slowing down. I derived my sense of happiness and self worth through what I could control and what I could achieve. Throwing myself into work, smashing sales targets, never turning off, having my iPhone permanently attached to my hand, multitasking like my life depended on it, hair always perfectly coiffed, cultivating Barbi feet by wearing high heels (always), networking, hosting fundraisers, overdoing the whole social butterfly thing… It’s an attitude and a canon of behaviour that our society champions. Dream, believe… but mostly, bust your butt and achieve. Because you’re simply not enough just as you are. So despite all my healthy eating, supplements, treatments, et al., the Lyme Disease resurfaced. Something was missing from my heal-thyself strategy.
Ironically, the last piece of the puzzle wasn’t to do with my physical body in a direct sense. The last piece of the puzzle was a major mental shift. Getting out of the Type-A, achievement addicted, adrenal state. Transitioning from always DOING – always feeding my need to achieve (and temporarily soothing my sense of “I am not enough”) – to just BEING. Simply slowing down sealed the deal for my body and mind to realign and get back on track. Which has in turn, allowed me to manifest a truly fulfilling life.
What would you say the hardest part of your journey was and what work did you need to do to overcome this?
Slowing down, stressing less, trusting more. It’s an ongoing commitment, an ongoing learning curve. Like all chronic over-achievers, I still have to be super conscious of staying in the slow lane on a day to day basis. For me meditation is absolutely key.
What do you believe the ‘key’ to healing is?
Finding the underlying cause of your pain. You have to feel it to heal it. As author Rhonda Britten puts it, “the feeling you’re afraid to feel is running your life.” I believe that the antidote to any negative feeling is to feel it completely, acknowledge it, invite it in for tea. Hold space, raise the curtain and give the feeling the mic. Listen and watch as it begins to loosen, open up and eventually dissolve. Once we can begin to identify these stories and feelings we’ve locked away and bring them into the light and look them in the eye we’re on the way to healing. This may sound like I’m speaking specifically to emotional pain but I believe that our physical pain is inextricably linked to our emotions and history.
If you could give my readers, who may be just starting out on their own healing journey, one piece of advice what would it be?
Just one! That’s tough. I’m going to cheat and give three small pieces:
1. Be holistic in your approach. Nothing is isolated, everything is connected.
2. Get a second opinion, and/or seek out help from healers that will empower your and help you address your illness or pain holistically.
3. Just. Start. Don’t get overwhelmed and give up. Start small. Listen to your intuition and pick something that feels both promising and manageable.
What truly inspires you in both your life and your work?
The inspiration in doing this work is two-fold. First, the inner work. Wabi-Sabi well was essentially born out of necessity- and it has continued to grow and evolve that way. This work is representative of a personal evolution- well two personal evolutions really! Brieann’s and mine. It’s directly born out of our own learnings, experimentations and explorations into what really works for us. So our process of creating and sharing Wabi-Sabi Well is inextricably linked to our own growth and learning. It’s a constant evolution and I do it because I love it. Because I can’t not do it. I feel compelled, cellularly. I’m naturally curious and I hunger to learn more, to expand, to evolve. So I do it because to me, our individual journeys of evolution are the most profound acts of creation. The evolution the Self is an adventure that is rich with possibility and that prospect totally ignites me.
The second point of inspiration is bringing the work out into the world and sharing our creations. It’s an honour and an incredible privilege. I want Wabi-Sabi Well to be a resource for people to tap into and it’s incredibly inspiring and affirming when people write to us to share the impact that Wabi-Sabi Well has had on them- that spurs us on to keep rolling.
And if my readers would love to connect with you and support you in the work you do, where is the best place for them to start?
Thank you! Brieann and I would love to connect with your readers. Our website is wabisabiwell.com and it’s loaded with articles, workout videos, meditations, recipes, ritual guides and more. We’ve also just launched our online Shop, which is really exciting- our workouts and meditations are available to purchase so you can download and keep them. If you’re looking for a more personalised experience you can also book in for private online personal training sessions with Brieann or have us design an affordable at-home Total Transformation program for you. You can also find us over on Instagram and Facebook.
Caitlin and I both hope you loved this interview. We would love it if you could leave us a comment below and let us know what was your favourite take-away piece from what Caitlin has shared with you today. And if you know of anyone who you think would love to know more about Caitlin and Wabi Sabi Well then please feel free to share this interview with them.
Mama, student of life, undocumented yogi, and wellbeing whizz, Caitlin Nowland lives in beautiful Byron Bay, Australia with her husband Loren and their two little wildlings, Oliver and Isla. Caitlin is co-creator of Wabi-Sabi Well.