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09.21.23 | Community

Understanding the Japanese Philosophy of Nagomi

Words have the power to evoke profound feelings, emotions and connections. Much like the warmth captured by Hygge, or the humanistic beliefs shared in Ubuntu, there are countless philosophies from across the globe that make life more vibrant for all. Today, we’re diving into an ancient philosophy that embodies everything calm – Nagomi. 

What it means

Nagomi, pronounced “na-go-mi”, is derived from the Japanese verb “nagomu”, which means to calm down or to be comforted. At its heart, Nagomi is all about finding a sense of calm, peace, and tranquility within oneself, and by extension, with the world around. It signifies a harmonious balance between the inner self and the outer environment.

This philosophy emphasizes the importance of feelings over thoughts, promoting the idea that our emotions often harbor deeper truths about our well-being than our minds. For the Japanese, Nagomi is not just a fleeting feeling but an art of living that involves deeply respecting oneself and others and finding serenity even in the presence of chaos.

How you can practice Nagomi 

Much like Hygge’s invitation to enjoy the cozy and comfortable, Nagomi encourages us to cultivate moments of introspection and inner calm in our lives. Here’s a few ways you can incorporate Nagomi into your daily routine:

  • Nature Walks: Japan has always held a deep reverence for nature. Take a quiet walk in nature, in a garden, forest or along the beach. Breathe in the fresh air, observe the colors and textures and let nature’s symphony soothe your soul.
  • Mindful Breathing: Spend a few minutes each day focusing on your breath. Deep, conscious breathing can instantly bring a feeling of calmness and clarity. 
  • Traditional Arts: Engage in traditional Japanese arts like flower arranging or tea ceremonies. These activities require patience and concentration, allowing you to be fully present in the moment. 
  • Minimalist Living: Embrace simplicity in life. Declutter your living spaces and keep only what is truly essential. The external calm will reflect internally. 
  • Connection: Like Ubuntu’s focus on human connection, Nagomi also values the serenity that comes from harmonious relationships. Regularly engage in meaningful conversations and activities with loved ones, cultivating a space of mutual respect and understanding. 

At Sage, we believe that life’s beauty lies in its intricacies. From the vibrant moments of togetherness that Hygge brings to the profound interconnection embodied by Ubuntu, and now, the tranquil harmony of Nagomi, there’s a world of philosophies awaiting to enrich our lives. Embrace them, and find your own path to a vibrant life.

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12.08.20 | Arts & Culture

Understanding the South African Philosophy of Ubuntu

Words from other cultures often encapsulate grand ideas that our own language simply struggles to communicate so succinctly, just like the Japanese concept of tsundoku, which describes having more books than one could ever read. Similarly, the Nguni Bantu term ubuntu is hard to even translate into English, though roughly it means “humanity.” Today, we’re exploring ubuntu and all that the word encompasses.

What It Means

The word ubuntu combines the root ntʊ̀, or “person/human being” with the abstract-noun-forming prefix ubu-, which is why the word is sometimes translated to mean “humanity” or, more extensively, “humanity towards others” and “I am because we are.” The Zulu phrase “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu” literally means that a person is a person through other people. Ubuntu encapsulates ideas of human kindness, mutual caring, connection, community and oneness. 

The word dates back as early as 1846 in South Africa, though first became popular during the period of decolonization in the mid 20th century. Ubuntu at that time was described as a form of African humanist philosophy, a moral compass for how we should behave towards one another. 

How Ubuntu Has Been Used

In the late 20th century, Desmond Tutu further popularized the term and brought it to Western audiences. He described it by saying, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours.” In truly ubuntu, or humanistic form, Tutu advocated that a democratic South Africa could reconcile from apartheid through restorative justice. Both oppressor and oppressed needed to have their humanity restored, to return to ubuntu and a more just, mutualistically caring society, together.

Nelson Mandela himself famously described ubuntu saying, “A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but it will have various aspects.” Mandela embodied ubuntu by leading South Africa out of apartheid with compassion and understanding, rather than vengeance. 

We could all benefit from incorporating ubuntu into our vocabulary and philosophy. At Sage Collective, we believe in the power of humanity, community and kindness — and we celebrate all that ubuntu embodies.

A group of dark human figures are gathered, and their silhouettes are reflected on the ground below them
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