After a decade of working in finance for large corporations,Vicky Tsai yearned for simplicity and authenticity in her life.“I was burned out from working in the corporate world and was looking for a more evolved approach to life,” she says. She found that in the form of a chance encounter with a modern-day geisha while on a business trip to Japan and the discovery of a 200-year-old text containing the secrets of their beauty rituals — which ultimately became the inspiration for her skincare line Tatcha.
“What I learned from the geisha is that less is more,” says Vicky. “Before I began traveling to Kyoto, it often felt rushed and preoccupied, but so often it meant lots of activity with little movement.”
Vicky began spending time at the Buddhist temple in the heart of the oldest green tea garden in Japan with one of the monks. “On my last visit, we spoke about small changes that can create a big difference. I found myself incorporating his suggestions into my daily rituals,” she says.
Here, she shares eight ways to infuse some of that Japanese zen into your life:
1 | Ban Nou: Ban means 10,000 and Nou means talent, possibility and capability. Put them together and you have a phrase that embodies the idea that things should have a thousand different uses. Apply that to your life and your self care routine and you will streamline, declutter and simplify. When it came to developing Tatcha I wanted to make sure it was really multifunctional, or ban nou. Each formula was created with efficacious ingredients to create a multi-tasking product without sacrificing a feeling of luxury and ritual.
2 | Wabi-sabi is the understanding that beauty exists in the imperfect. Too often these days we see skincare products promising to erase your imperfections, fine lines, freckles, and/or change your complexion or the shape of your face. Wabi-sabi reminds us to embrace our imperfections and remember that they are beautiful and part of what makes each of us unique.
3 | Ichi-go ichi-e translates to one time, one meeting and reminds us to be present in this moment and really appreciate it. There are so many things we do every day that become throwaway gestures but can easily be turned into a more mindful experience. You can rush through washing your face at the end of the day, or you can turn it into a moment of self-care — enjoying the scent and feel of the product, the act of massaging it onto your skin. Feel the day and everything that has accumulated melt away to bring you back to your most natural self.
4 | Omakase: Entrust to others. You might know this word from your local sushi bar where it means to put yourself in the hands of the chef and eat whatever they present. In a world where it often feels like you have to do everything yourself, Omakase is a reminder to surround yourself with people you can trust and lean on in times of need. It allows yourself to relax and let go… so go ahead and book that facial or reiki treatment!
5 | Kaizen is all about making continuous improvements. In the western world today we seek out aggressive treatments — think harsh peels, laser treatments, grueling cleanses and bootcamps — in the pursuit of instant change. Kaizen reminds us that a consistent, measured approach to life, skincare, diet and wellness is a wiser path.
6 | She kankan translates to stop, breathe, relax and slow down a little. Rushing through life means you miss out on truly pleasurable moments. Until very recently, I had to brush my daughter Alea’s hair for her because she couldn’t reach around her head. We don’t rush through brushing her hair but rather use that time in the morning before school, and at night after a bath, to connect. I love seeing her in the mirror, eyes closed, with a half-smile on her face.
7 | Nyu nan shin means to have a soft and flexible mind and being open to doing things differently. Just as stretching becomes easier when we relax into it, spiritual growth is also only possible when we open our minds to new concepts. Try something outside your comfort zone like a daily meditation or a tea ceremony and see what new perspective it brings to your life.
8 | Chisoku means to know satisfaction. It can be easy to lose yourself in a cycle of more: more products, more appointments, more work. You are the only one who can say “enough is enough.” Life is about balance, not extremes, so stop and find satisfaction with what you have and what you have accomplished that day.