When we think of beauty, we may think of a glamorous movie star, someone that is perfectly groomed with expertly applied makeup and a body that is chiseled by extensive exercise. To me, that is not beauty but a manufactured imaged. Though it is pretty and attractive, it is just an illusion. And that is OK, since the actor is portraying a role based on an expectation for the work that they do. An actor, especially one that plays leading characters in a movie or show, often is required by the industry and fans to look a particular way. Now some actors, even with this agenda, may also be beautiful… but being physically pretty or attractive is not what beauty is all about.
Often, we confuse beauty with style, asymmetry or a manicured application. But beauty is beyond these things. Beauty is a vibration. For instance, I ask you to take a moment and close your eyes and think of Mother Teresa. Imagine not just what she looked like, but also the work she did helping the poor and disadvantage, the kindness she showed, the words of grace she spoke and the love that radiated from her being. Do you see her in your head? Do you feel her in your heart, her essence, her light? Good. Now, I ask you again to think of just Mother Teresa’s appearance. My guess is that now, you are seeing beauty. She magically seems ethereal and beautiful and someone that you would want to be near.
This is because Beauty Is an Expression of Love.
Yes… that is what true beauty is. It is the energy that radiates from love. This is why when we see a rainbow and we look up at it and we are mesmerized by the vibrancy of the colors after the rain and we feel the air that is misty and cleansing. We feel uplifted. That rainbow opened up our hearts and we saw beauty. Or, when we see a piece of art that we just can’t take our eyes off of because something stirs deep inside of us. Is it the love that the artist felt as she painted the painting? Was she channeling beauty into each brush stroke, as she gingerly let the paint glide onto the canvas creating a splash of color that if you looked closely, seems messy but when you take a step back, you feel the energy of her joy, her life and or her soul?
The secret is, that we are all beautiful. It doesn’t matter what we physically look like. Our height, our weight, our skin color, our hair style, our clothing… none of that is what determines beauty. I am sure you have heard the old adage, “Beauty is only skin deep.” We know that means that physical beauty is superficial and that true beauty is from emotional and spiritual qualities that shape our character. However, we are bombarded with images, media and often our own self talk contradicting the true meaning of beauty. What happens is that we tend to forget about being beautiful and instead focus on our outward appearance and image. So, how do we change this perception and embrace beauty?
We need to allow ourselves to be beautiful.
Since beauty is an expression of Love, we first need to love ourselves. I know, you may be thinking, I need to change this or change that and then I would love myself. This is how I use to be and I sometimes I still fall into that trap. You see, I have struggled with weight most of my life and as a kid, I was teased extensively about my freckles and my turned-up nose. But I am going to tell you… you do not need to change anything about you. You are already perfect. You are already beautiful. You were created by divine energy. Beauty is already living inside of you. It just needs to be awakened. To let your true essence shine, just like Mother Teresa’s spirit radiated in your mind, you will need to allow yourself to accept, feel and receive love.
Well, you may be thinking, that is easier said then done. The thing is, in our culture, we often talk about what or who we love but rarely discuss about loving ourselves. We have this fear of being narcissistic or conceited or some other term that actually doesn’t describe self-love but instead describes fear, separation and low self-esteem. People who truly love themselves, who recognize that it is just as important to receive love as it is to give love, radiate. People want to be near them. This is because their inner beauty is shining through.
So, how do you go about tapping into your own beauty? There are many ways to this, from prayer and meditation, self-reflection, mantras, commitment and sheer will. However, the following exercise is what has worked for me.
First, find a quiet place where you can be alone for a minimum of 5 minutes. You can lay down on your bed, sit in a chair or stand- just whatever is comfortable for you. I actually did the exercise I am about to lay out for you this morning in shower. Once you are in your space, then take a couple of slow deep breaths just to feel relaxed. I usually breathe in through my nose and count to 5 or 6 and then release the air with my mouth open with the same count I used taking in the air. Do this a minimum of three times… lately, I have been needing to do the breathing more than three times, and that is ok. You will know when you are relaxed. This should not be a chore and you will find after the second or third deep breath that you can easily do this step without counting or thinking about it. You will know intuitively when you are relaxed enough for the next step.
Once you are relaxed, then the next step is to think about your heart in the middle of your chest. Visualize where it is at and then focus on that spot. Don’t worry about technicalities… you don’t need to know exactly where the organ heart is at since you are going to focus on the “feeling” part of your heart… you know, that place that gets tight when you are stressed or flutters when that special person touches your hand or that warmness you feel when you hold a baby or a puppy. Yes, that spot. Now, feel the energy in the center of that spot. This may take a several seconds or even a minute or two if you are not in the routine of thinking about this part of you. Once you feel the center of your heart begin to imagine the energy of your heart swirling in a circle. At first, this circle may be small, maybe only an inch or two wide. This energy swirls in either a clockwise or counter clockwise path. It doesn’t matter which, you will know what is right for you. You can even imagine it going in one direction for several rotations and then going the other direction and then back again. You know what feels right for you. Now, let the circle of energy expand to the width of your chest, where the bottom of the circle is just past your ribs and the top of it is by your throat. Feel the energy of the circle as it expands and swirls.
After you feel comfortable with the swirling heart energy, and it seems to swirl on its own without you having to concentrate or think about it, your heart is now open. This is the state where you can start programming your heart for love. As the circle continues to swirl, in your head or out loud, say the following:
I RECEIVE LOVE
I ACCEPT LOVE
I AM LOVE
Say these three phrases over and over again and as you say each phrase, visualize the love coming to you from everyone and everything, all that is or God or whatever gives that feeling of connection. As that love comes to you, visualize that circle of energy accepting the love and that the love now swirls with the circle you’ve created. The love is filling your heart and as it keeps coming in, you will feel love permeate throughout your whole body as each cell inside of you receives that love. It is like pouring water into a funnel and then water goes into a huge vessel. The water is the love, your heart is the funnel and your body is the vessel. You become love.
At first, doing this exercise in love may seem strange and you may even get emotional doing this practice. If you cry, that is OK. Sometimes when our hearts are closed for a long time and we start to open up, we will release with tears. This is the way we discard the things we no longer need to hold in our hearts. I promise, the more you do this, the less uncomfortable it will feel. Even if you do shed a few tears, you may experience different emotions including peace and joy. But if you do not feel lighter after the first couple of times doing the practice, that is OK. If this type of practice is new to you, it may take a while for the uneasiness to dissipate and the peaceful, loving and blissful feelings to take over.
When you have completed these steps, but before you go about your day, you will want to end with your own mantra on beauty. This mantra should be something that you are comfortable with, something that you could say to yourself throughout the day, with or without doing the above practice first. For me, I say the following…” I am a beautiful, light being from the divine.” This is what works for me, but I have also just stated things like… “I am beautiful” or “My beauty radiates out to the world.” It is OK if you do not believe the mantra at first. Most of us are used to negative self-talk but tend to shy away from positive affirmations. I would say that I did some form of this practice very sporadically over a 10-year period before I committed to it and saw results. In fact, it wasn’t until strangers coming up to me and telling me that I was beautiful that I felt confident in doing this exercise of love and beauty. The first couple of times that someone complimented me on my beauty, it seemed so weird and out of left field to me. My face and body language gave away my doubt because they would say things like “I am not trying to hit on you, there is just something about you that is so beautiful” or they would say, “you just have this glow about you that I felt I had to tell you that you are beautiful.” Eventually, I just happily accepted the compliments and smiled.
Please keep in mind, that the steps I have laid out work for me. However, it is not the only way to be beautiful. Remember, Beauty is an Expression of Love. This expression happens when you truly love yourself. You may already be there or you may have another routine that puts you in that state of self-love where you emit beauty. Regardless, just know that you are love and you are beautiful. Believe. And. Be Beautiful.
About the author: Theresa Touhey is the owner of Nature Reflections, an online jewelry store that specializes in nature-inspired and handcrafted jewelry. She is also an artist, a writer, a grandmother, a caregiver to a rescued Havanese dog and a nature lover. She has practiced various forms of meditation and yoga for over 30 years.