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Zen and the Art of Hairdressing

March 19, 2021

Zen and the Art of Hairdressing

I’ve always felt there was something very Zen about hairdressing.

It’s one of the few jobs/practices that so absorbs the head, heart and hands – the intellectual, emotional, and physical. When fully engaged there's a strong meditative and spiritual dimension, as with most great arts.

Through our deep practice we transform not only our clients but ourselves too. To that extent our business is very much our Dojo. ‘Do’ comes from the Japanese word for ‘way’ as in Aikido, Judo, Chado (tea ceremony) or Kado (flower arranging).  ‘Jo’ from the word for ‘place’.

So Dojo is the place of the way, whatever your way is. It’s a place where people discipline themselves in the practice of their way, and in so doing become better people leading to a spiritual enlightenment or at least a raised level of consciousness.

Our Beaumont Street salon is a Dojo for our 50 strong working community. And our practice with hair, supported by the apprentice/master relationship, seems at odds with a qualification obsessed society.

In the commercial world productivity is everything. Either you can do the work and get a client to return to you repeatedly or you can’t. To that end a business entrepreneur isn’t really interested in how many certificates you have, we need producers. Degrees and qualifications are more important in organisations that don’t obviously produce anything.

Universities, many large corporations, the Government etc. are not so clearly output orientated. Often, no one knows if an individual or department is doing anything useful or not. How can they choose or promote employees without referring to certificates and qualifications?

As our society becomes further bureaucratised and distanced from the marketplace of commercial transactions, new measures are needed to make centralised judgements on people’s abilities. Hence the plethora of qualifications, which in vocational industries like our own, are replacing deep and sound practical ability.

We need to be careful about bureaucratic bodies taking over hairdressing. It is a professional art and practice, the success of which comes from a deep physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual level. It cannot be judged simply from certificates and qualifications.

 Michael Van Clarke





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