When we think of beauty, we may think of a glamorous movie star, perfectly groomed with expertly applied makeup and a body chiseled by extensive exercise. To me, that is not beauty but a manufactured image. 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 their work. 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. Some actors, even with this plan, 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, 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 disadvantaged, 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. I guess that now, you are seeing beauty. She magically seems ethereal, beautiful, and someone 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 look up at it, we are mesmerized by the vibrancy of the colors after the rain and feel the misty and cleansing air. We feel uplifted. That rainbow opened up our hearts, and we saw beauty. Or when we see a piece of art that we can’t take our eyes off because something stirs deep inside us. Is it the love that the artist felt as she painted the painting? Was she channeling beauty into each brushstroke as she gingerly let the paint glide onto the canvas creating a splash of color that seems messy if you looked closely, 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, weight, skin color, hairstyle, and clothing… none of that determines beauty. You have heard the adage, “Beauty is only skin deep.” We know that physical beauty is superficial and true beauty is from emotional and spiritual qualities that shape our character. However, we are bombarded with images and media, and often our self-talk contradicts beauty's true meaning. 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. You may think I need to change this or that, and then I would love myself. This is how I used to be; sometimes, I still fall into that trap. 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 yourself. 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 than done. In our culture, we often discuss what or who we love but rarely discuss loving ourselves. We fear being selfish or vain or some other term that doesn’t describe self-love but instead describes anxiety, separation, and low self-esteem. People who genuinely love themselves, who recognize that it is just as important to receive love as it is, 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 beauty? There are many ways to do 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 lie on your bed, sit in a chair, or stand- whatever is comfortable. I did the exercise I am about to lay out for you this morning in the shower. Once you are in your space, take a couple of slow deep breaths to feel relaxed. I usually breathe in through my nose, count to 5 or 6 and then release the air with my mouth open with the exact count I took in the stand. Do this a minimum of three times… lately, I have needed to do the breathing more than three times, which is ok. You will know when you are relaxed. This should not be a chore; 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, 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 particular 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 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 counterclockwise 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, then going the other direction back again. You know what feels right for you. Let the circle of energy expand to the width of your chest, where the bottom of the process is just past your ribs, and the top 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 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 repeatedly, and as you say each word, 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 process you’ve created. The love is filling your heart, and as it keeps coming in, you will feel love permeate your whole body as each cell inside you receives that love. It is like pouring water into a funnel, and then the water goes into a massive 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 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 tears. This is how we discard the things we no longer need to hold in our hearts. The more you do this, the less uncomfortable it will feel. Even if you 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.
After completing these steps, you will want to end with your mantra on beauty before going about your day. This mantra should be something 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 works for me, but I have also just stated things like… “I am beautiful” or “My beauty radiates 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 ten years before I committed to it and saw results. It wasn’t until strangers came up to me and told me that I was beautiful that I felt confident in doing this exercise of love and beauty. The first couple of times, someone complimented me on my beauty; it seemed weird and out of the left field. 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 remember 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 genuinely love yourself. You may already be there or have another routine that puts you in that state of self-love where you emit beauty. Regardless, know that you are loved and you are beautiful. Believe. And. Be Beautiful.
About the author: Theresa Touhey owns Nature Reflections, an online jewelry store specializing in handcrafted Angel Callers and Harmony Ball 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.