Thank you for all of the comments for the previous post, “Why Do you Call it Sashiko?“. I learned a lot from your insights. Many comments encouraged me to keep my journey. Don’t worry. I will not change anything to share the Sashiko we enjoy.
To be honest, the original discussion was a confusing & heartbreaking one that I didn’t expect. I moved on, thanks to many heartwarming and constructive advise. Yet, however, for the purpose of improving my understanding of both Japanese and non-Japanese culture, I cannot stop thinking of the possible missing link that I couldn’t realize. Some part of me says that I could have communicated better within these 3 Budda’s smile phases (not after the 3 strikes). I know it sounds crazy to you, but hey, I am a Japanese after all, who naturally feel shame on things to worry if they may have embarrassed themselves or not.
I have been thinking and thinking, though days and nights, I may have found the missing link.
Mindful Reading and Quick Reading.
The missing link is the word I came up with: “Mindful Reading“
* (I apologize if I am using someone’s word. I do change the name if it is not appropriate.)
“Why do you call it Sashiko?”
From this sentence, when you read it at first glance, what do (did) you think (feel)? I sincerely hope that you understood my intention of “a pure question out of curiosity” with reading the before & after contexts instead of the “Atsushi – accusing – you” comment, like “how can you call it Sashiko”. There was no intention to accuse anyone and anything they do. I simply wanted to know what is the motivation and reasons (why) they call their stitching Sashiko, only because they did not try to understand the Japanese culture or characteristic.
Over reading their comments many times, I came to one hypothesis: what if they read the sentence, “why do you call it Sashiko?” (by without getting the context) as an accusation? then, the question itself triggered their defensiveness? Moreover, what if, in the Western (American) culture, it is not okay to ask about the personal motivation or reasons, although it is okay (or even recommended) to ask the technical or knowledge-based questions?
What I received as their offensive comments are not still okay because I provided enough polite explanation (contexts) of why I pointed out the concern. Many comments I had received from the previous post assured me that my English was not a significant problem. However, I thought, this hypothesis may a good start to find the missing link that has been bothering me. This realization leads me to the keyword: Mindful Reading.
Before explaining about the Mindful Reading and Quick reading in contrast, as a side note, I would like to share the comment I receive in the post I asked: “why do you call it Sashiko?” I received a comment saying: “I use the word for the Instagram hashtag.” I liked how pure it is. I am NOT offended by this comment at all. Since my goal is to share the Sashiko AND Japanese culture, I asked him if it is possible to try to understand Japanese culture. He generously says “Yes”.
This “Yes” is all I wanted from the original discussion. I asked the person in the original discussion to practice Sashiko (move hands for some amount of time) first instead of asking many questions, then ask thoughtful questions. Asking the questions is not the problem. Asking questions without thinking of someone’s time (the possibility of troubling someone) is one of the “non-appreciated” action in courtesy of Japan. If the person says “I am doing Sashiko”, I wanted them to try to understand this courtesy of Japan.
Unfortunately, the discussion didn’t go that way. So I started wondering why they call their stitching Sashiko. I honestly and sincerely didn’t understand why – which I still don’t. I can only guess the other reasons such as “because it looks pretty” or “I just saw it”. Anything is acceptable. Only thing I don’t understand is why they do not provide me their response… (Well, I got one answer that she thinks what she does is more like an embroidery – then I replied her that I had no problem then if she thinks what she does is an embroidery).
I kept thinking and thinking, then I realize that reading is a subjective action. It reflects how the person usually perceives reality and react to the events. The contexts and my polite explanation didn’t matter because they acted as their unconscious behavior.
Well. That’s why I would like to share the importance of the Sashiko as the process, not only the result or practical techniques.
Sashiko as a mindful stitching.
I see many people enjoy Sashiko as the mindful stitching. Although I am not sure if the Sashiko was developed as the way to be mindful, like meditation, I feel the same for the Sashiko as the mindful stitching. In fact, I enjoy the meditative characteristic of Sashiko stitching, and it influences my other daily activities. Sashiko helps us to be mindful in other activities.
So, I would like to share the concept of Mindful Reading.
I would like to use the word of Quick Reading in contrast to the Mindful Reading. Mindful Reading may be described in other terms such as careful reading, slow reading, or as my favorite, a dialogue to the author. Quick Reading may be described in other terms such as efficient reading, speed (fast) reading, or personal preference based reading.
In this my personal description, Quick Reading is the key to be successful in this world. I personally enjoy the Speed-Reading (Photographic Reading?) in Japanese, and I used to read at least a book per day. I enjoyed the amount of knowledge and information I could accumulate in my brain – I felt that I was reaching to the success (that I defined – pretty much money and wealth) every-time I read. I still enjoy it when I make a research on specific subject.
Ever since I started practicing Sashiko as my life mission, I naturally withdraw myself from doing the Quick Reading. It is interesting to realize this difference after 5 years of my reading habit transformation. Again, I still do the Quick Reading when I choose. However, in daily life, I try to be mindful when I read someone’s writing. (This may be significantly affected by the Inter-cultural marriage life. It isn’t easy sometimes. hahaha.)
I would like to recommend the beauty of Mindful Reading for those who would like to practice the Sashiko. I am not saying you should learn how to meditate and sit down on the floor when you read. It is just about being mindful (that you are there with the book) while you read. You may question yourself if you are reading what the author intended to write. You may ask a question to the author in mind, and the author may describe it later on in their writing. Mindful Reading makes a beautiful dialogue between you and the book (or blog, writing, or even a memo on the post-it).
Does it sound difficult for you to practice? Don’t worry. there is an easy way to practice Mindful Reading. “Breath slowly intentionally & fully” when you read. The slow breathing will remind you that you are there to read.
We (the human being) used to search for the information by reading books or records. Now, we choose the information because of the Internet – too much information available. The more information is required to be successful, then it leads to the necessity of increasing the speed in reading. For efficiency and productivity, in such a busy day, Quick Reading is a must-have skill to be “better”.
However, with Sashiko as mindful stitching, I here sincerely hope to share the beauty of Mindful Reading. I occasionally feel that I am talking to the author when I read – even when I read the novel. It gives me so much appreciation and insight.
With the Internet and speed-oriented society. some of the writing does not deserve the Mindful Reading. You may end up with wasting your time with Mind Reading by reading some trashy writing. It is okay as the learning opportunity. However, for those who practice Mindful Reading, I am pretty sure you can distinguish the writing worthwhile for the Mindful Reading. One exception would be the writing in another language and from other culture. The author may be writing in the non-mother language. In that case, the Mindful Reading will provide more insight from. As my personal impression, the writer has to be pretty mindful when they write sentences in the non-mother language 🙂
SNS is a bit difficult place to do Mindful Reading, again, because not many writers are in the status of mindfulness. However, defining that “All of the writing in SNS are not worthwhile for Mindful Reading” is also not in a category of being mindful… I assume.
We all make mistakes
As my conclusion, the original discussion missed the concept of Mindful Reading. I asked them to read my comments several times, and they said they did. They indeed did read my writing, but not Mindful Reading. Therefore I felt confused by 2 different types of feedbacks – many feedbacks of saying I have nothing wrong, and a few saying that I am rude. This confusion may be explained by the categorization of Mindful Reading and Quick Reading.
*When I write this kind of article, some of you may feel that you did Quick Reading and feel sorry for not doing the Mindful Reading for my writing. Well, do not be sorry because the feeling you had for me is already a dialogue between me and you. It is Mindful Reading. Also, the person with only Quick Reading ability wouldn’t be reading the whole article – because it is too long and the sub-heading tells “another story”. (It is interesting if you get my trick here.)
I welcome any feedbacks
It would be so helpful to share your insight here. Some say that I do not welcome any questions and feedback, but I do. Criticism and questions are both welcome as well. If you ask a question, please think through first so if you are not troubling my time more than necessary (Courtesy of Japan). If you make a criticism, please provide the concrete reasoning and examples backing up your criticism. I got some comment (on FB) that I am rude at some posts, but they never provided me the actual posts I shared… so I cannot even self-reflect and prepare for an apology because I don’t know what they are referring to.)
I also learned that some may think that I am trying to be an authority in Sashiko. I have a favor to ask for this – please try to understand that I am just a man who happens to be good at Sashiko. It is perfectly fine when someone gives me the title of Artist, but I really don’t consider myself as the artist or Sashiko master.
I write a lot of my philosophy on Instagram. It would be nice to follow, and when you have time, please check the post I made already there.
[Side note] I want you to listen…?
I have been happily married for about 9 years with a western woman. It is a marriage, so we have numbers of arguments and discussion, and I always learn something from them (by admitting that I was wrong. lol. just kidding.)
One of the significant learning was that: when she says, “Hey, I want you to listen”, then start talking about her day, it does not mean that she is asking for my reply nor advise. She just wants me to listen.
In Japanese culture, this doesn’t happen often because not many married couples talk like we do in the western culture (in my understanding – of course, depends on the couple). The wife doesn’t ask him to listen much. She doesn’t even expect him to listen even though she may keep talking to him.
I did the same once – pretending that I was listening to my wife. It was a bad idea. So I changed my understanding that I need to listen carefully when she ask me to listen. So I nod and say some exclamation words as naturally as possible (it wasn’t my strength). I shared my caring and I did care what she said. However, in my cultural understanding, caring required some participation – so when we got into the fight by me commenting on what she wanted me to listen, it was total confusion.
This is an example of how “cultural difference” can affect communication. Being mindful is a great way to mend the troubles. I accept to change myself in any situations because I choose to marry a western woman and live in America. Since we are talking about Sashiko, the Japanese stitching form developed in the Japanese culture, I would like to ask anyone who enjoys Sashiko to “try” to understand the Japanese mindset bt being mindful what they are reading, listening, and enjoying.
Again, when I said, “why do you call it Sashiko?”, I asked from the out of pure curiosity. It is still the same. I am very curious why the person call their stitching Sashiko (if they do not try to understand the Japanese culture). If your answer is “because I like Sashiko and would like to (try to) understand Japanese culture”, I am here with you. If not, I would like to know why you call it Sashiko so I can learn from you and move closer to you.
I hope this article cleared some of the confusion. It certainly did to me like “Aha!” moment.