An edited version of this article was published in Science of Mind magazine – September 2016 issue with the title 7 ways to True Beauty. You can find the magazine at any Barnes & Noble location in the United States or can subscribe online.
PDF version – som_sept2016_swati_singh_beauty_tips
“People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder” – Salma Hayek
In an era where beauty is defined by capitalists and filtered by the commercialization of make-up products, retouching software and facebook likes, the above statement from Salma Hayek is not only powerful and insightful but it makes one think if we are victims of a larger conspiracy. Are we ignoring the true beauty that is within?
I won’t repeat the same old adage “outer beauty is just skin deep” and other such quotes. I understand when you are constantly conscious of the way you look; such quotes are good for nothing. How can I empathize? Well, I have been bullied for being skinny. It might be in my genes or my stars but in a land where voluptuous assets are supposed to be the norm, I was constantly reminded of how I do not look ‘good’. The whole ‘Fat is flattering’ campaign used to make me feel cringe inside my shell. Well, curvy bodies were justifying themselves and I was unable to look for my defense. The whole hatred towards skinny people was making me feel worse about myself. I stopped looking in mirrors. Even binging on midnight cravings was not helping me gain extra pounds. This bullying continued subtly at the working place too. I grew accustomed to it. Few years after, when a European photographer offered me to model for his project, I was stunned. According to his country, I belonged to the ‘perfect’ statistics. That day made me realize, it is the perception of beauty which is incorrect. One country has ‘fairness’ as a criterion; another country goes for the artificial tan. The concept itself is an illusion! One might like rose more, doesn’t make lily any less beautiful. It is all a hoax created by us. There is nothing less or more beautiful. Each one of us is a unique creation. It took me a while to understand how outer beauty can be enhanced by working on the inner beauty. Although I politely declined the offer, I thanked him for making me realize one of the most crucial lessons in life.
Let’s dig deeper first to understand why we run after the illusion of perfection? What is perfection? Is it given by Chanel, Armani, Prada, Loreal, Mac or the perfect vital statistics? Are you expecting a no as an answer because I am asking cliché question? I might answer it with a yes. Yes, because wearing all these brands might give you the confidence that you are looking good. When you wear them and step inside a party, you get an impression that people are appreciating you and you “feel good”. What about the time when you went to a gathering and did not feel that? What is making you conscious is not anyone else but you. The energy field you are weaving around you is through your thoughts and that is what is reflecting back to you.
From the very beginning, we were told to be a ‘good boy’ or a ‘good girl’ – to be appreciated and accepted by others. The desire to be accepted and appreciated kept on growing in many different tangents. To show how happy we are, how good looking we are, how nicely we dress up became an obligation.
There is nothing wrong in taking care of oneself. Our soul has taken the armor of this body. It certainly needs to be hale and hearty. Grooming yourself for the purpose of maintaining hygiene and cleanliness is essential. Exercising and eating healthy is also important for keeping both mind and body fit. The only thing we don’t require is being anxious and fretting over our looks, shape and size. As long as you are healthy, all else is just a varied form of our silhouettes.
Lessons learned –
1. Accept uniqueness – Our fingerprint is unique, even the strand of our hair is unique; we are sent to be inimitable in this world. We are exclusive. Let’s celebrate our individuality by being happy by being what we are.
2.Stop comparisons – When we accept the uniqueness of our personality, there is no need to compare ourselves with anyone. How can an apple be compared with an orange? Both are delicious. Or you can go back to the example of rose and lily.
3.Mid night cravings – Cravings can pop up anytime. Check your feelings first. All such unsolicited cravings are because of some emotional deficiency inside us. Usually, we feel low or bored or upset or guilty and eating makes us think we can distract from those feelings. Well, it doesn’t. Talk to yourself. Figure out what is the incident which is building emotional distress within you. Talk to a friend. See a movie which makes you laugh. Have a warm aromatic bath instead. If none of the above sorts it, treat with homemade flavored water whenever craving knocks your door.
4.Never feel Guilty for eating – Even if you couldn’t stop yourself from indulging in a delicious calorie-packed cake or a two-minute junk food, never reprimand yourself for it. Guilt won’t make it any better. Determination can. Maybe one more round of jogging next day or a detoxifying routine.
Let us now embark on a different journey. How about spiritual grooming? We spend hours on beauty treatments and wardrobe. Let us spend the equal time on grooming our spirit and soul. Have you seen the monks and sisters living in monasteries or ashrams? You will find their skin to be glowing and radiant. You will never guess their age right. It is because of the lifestyle they follow and the care they take to keep their souls prim and proper. How can we do that in our busy life? The way we go to a gym for health or visit salon for our outer appearances, let us put a regime for our soul.
1.Warm up – Bring out your pens and sticky notes. Write what you would like to hear. I will give you few examples. “You are beautiful – inside out”; “It is going to be such a beautiful day for me”; “You are a strong woman”; “I love my life”. Mix them all. Go near your washroom mirror before going to bed. Switch off the lights. Take out one of the slip without reading it and paste it on the mirror. Go off to sleep. Start your mornings with a message from you to you. Always keep on renewing the statements. It is like making a fortune cookie for you by you. And it works!
2.Lift spirits – The inner glow comes from the positive thoughts we carry. You must have seen acne breakouts or wrinkles or dull skin if you went through a rough patch in your life. Sure, it is difficult to have positive thoughts all the time although we can try our best. Worries are always unnecessary. Let it come, we will see. You have faced challenges before too in your life; you will counter the current one too. Have faith in your abilities. Miracles happen when we believe in one.
3.Essential Nutrients – Eat healthily, eat organic. If you can, grow a vegetable garden. If you cannot, make every effort to avoid chemicals and junk in your food. Eat right – heavier breakfasts, lighter dinners.
4.Tone kindness without a reason – Let us not be kind because we want to add brownie points in the balance sheet of Karma. That is not how it works. Practice kindness without desiring anything in return. When our soul feels nourished because it was able to help in all its capacity, the happiness transpires throughout our veins. Skin and body will also thank us for that.
5.Stretch Love Muscles – We all encounter bad experiences in our lives. Each experience, over time, forced us to make walls around us. We close our hearts towards many things around us even though we don’t intend to. Open your heart to the emotion of love. Love the beautiful nature, love animals and love yourself. Do what you love. Create something of your own. Scribble, doodle, paint, write, dance. It can be as simple as collecting pinecones. I collect feathers.
6.Learn New – Be in a constant process of learning. It can be anything from a guitar, gardening, yoga or surfing. Each activity gives us an opportunity to learn deeper about life and know us better. Challenge your own limits and surpass them.
7.Relax – In midst of all this, find time to relax. You need not take a break to go off to a peaceful island every time; you can go for a mindful walk. Peace is within you. You just need to embrace it. Sit in silence every morning for at least seven minutes. No excuses.
When your soul is nourished, your body, too, will bloom. Be beautiful, internally.
May the splendor of your beauty radiate from your aura, always!