The Luxury of Beauty: Within and Without
Wellness, as well as being about finding an optimal biology, is also about beauty.
There is a beauty when our bodies are moving smoothly, lightly, strongly, confidently, effortlessly, pain free, through the world.
There is a beauty when our minds navigate smoothly from subject to subject, task to task, creative idea to the next. Or simply ponder a thought, like an oyster rolling around a pearl until it glistens smoothly couched within the incandescent folds of contemplation.
There is a beauty when our dreams come alive, finally lit on fire, and breathing as reality in our daily lives.
How do we reach the sweet spot of this kind of beauty?
To find that simplicity. Elegance. Luxury, even, of the inner eye that sees from a place of beauty.
FINDING BEAUTY WITHIN
One of my clients said recently, “You are like a Marie Kondo for the mind, or psyche.” I absolutely loved this concept. Marie Kondo is this sweet delightful creature that kindly and firmly convinces people to let go of the things that don’t spark joy.
My client said, “You help me let go of the thoughts and feelings that don’t spark joy.” I loved this idea of helping people tidy up their inner spaces. Making space for more of life to fill you, and more of your authentic self to fill your life.
To clear space for beauty.
Beauty is defined as a combination of qualities that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the visual. It exalts the mind or spirit, and is found in symmetry (1,2).
On a deeper note, beauty appears to be linked to virtue, such that a person with a virtuous nature, is seen as more beautiful than one without (3). On a greater scale, beauty is experienced in nature, and is healing for the mind (4).
In our brains, a region called the medial orbitofrontal cortex, or mOFC, lights up when we perceive beauty (5).
So how do we create space for beauty in our minds?
One approach is to let go of those thoughts that no longer spark joy. The thoughts that we may cling to because they are familiar, comfortable, what we grew up with or what one of our favourite people said; yet for us now, these old thoughts aren’t really working anymore. They don’t create an experience of beauty.
It’s useful to have a coach or therapist point out these non-joy beliefs within our minds.
Sometimes, we can find them on our own.
If you have a non-joy thought or belief that keeps coming up, try this. Instead of fighting it, try accepting it. Try handling it like you would your old favourite band T-shirt, and thinking, “yeah, I remember when I used to love wearing this shirt. I loved that band. It was awesome to be so into the vibe of it. But now it’s not so much for me.”
Try looking at that old band shirt, or thought, as just a shirt. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not wrong or right, bad or good, it’s just a shirt. Become neutral about the shirt. Then see if you can let it go. It no longer sparks joy, so why would you keep it around?
To truly let it go, you need to let all the emotions towards the shirt be present, and then let these emotions become less and less important. Any feeling or emotion that is extreme, accept it, tolerate it, then let that go. Until, it really is, just a shirt. And you can let it go.
Different people prefer different ways to visualize letting go of the thoughts that hinder joy. You can imagine them floating away on a cloud. Or coming off of you like a poof of colour. Or put the thought into a sentence that fades away. Or in a balloon that disappears in the distance.
Be playful. Let that infinitely creative part of you, your psyche, find a fun way to let old thoughts go. And make space for beauty. For you.
There is a magic that happens when you make space. Within the emptiness, opportunities arise to experience the beauty inside you, and thus the beauty that you can create outside of you.
It is here, in this mind space, that you can begin to day dream. Day dreaming is shown to activate the default modal network, a widespread connectivity in the brain that may help to reset the brain.
The mind space you create when you empty the mind, becomes your Day Dream Room. Here you can rest your focus on the things that you love - the dreams of what you want to create and experience. The you that you want to become, and the you that you are. The beauty that you wish to sense, feel, smell, see, touch. The beauty that you wish to be.
If you find your self confused and unclear, then allow that. Perhaps there is a beauty in the lack of clarity. Allow the question of what beauty is to you, means to you, to exist.
Luxury is defined as the state of great comfort and extravagant living; a sumptuous environment. A condition of abundance or great ease. Something added to pleasure or comfort, but not necessary.
Luxury can transport us, provide an escape, or a panacea, from the strife or stress that we experience. This is the power of a luxurious architectural space or object. The artwork in the refinement of the experience of that luxury place or thing is what creates a state inside of us that we enjoy.
What is the state inside that a luxurious setting creates? A symmetry. A balance. A beauty that calms the mind and calls forth a non-verbal response from the heart, from the soul - an abstract feeling of transcendence, or peacefulness, or a sense of being uplifted.
So how do we create luxury within?
I have found, in the practice of a type of lucid daydreaming, or as my client also suggested, “lucid mindfulness”, that the psyche is the rich infinite source of a sumptuous abundance of images and experiences that replete the mind. Whether this is part of a mindfulness session, a meditation, a yoga nidra class, or a body mantra practice, this “lucid mindfulness” is a powerhouse of imagery that immerses the internal senses in a world of depth and meaning.
When we take the time to make space, and explore this mysterious realm of the psyche, we begin to find our dreams. Our truth. Our purpose. What we love. And from here, we can live more intentionally in our daily lives. We more easily see the opportunities that come our way as to how they further or hinder the realization of our dreams. Knowing our dreams, with clarity, with heart, allows us to navigate daily life towards a lived beauty.
Wishing you the best, always,
Dr. M ~
Litte A et al. 2011 Facial attractiveness: evolutionary based research. In: Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2011 Jun 12; 366(1571): 1638–1659.
Zaidel et al. 2005. Appearance of symmetry, beauty, and health in human faces. In: Brain Cogn 2005 Apr;57(3):261-3.
Mo et al. 2016. Natural Tendency towards Beauty in Humans: Evidence from Binocular Rivalry. In: PLoS One. 2016; 11(3): e0150147
Bloomfield. 2017. What makes nature-based interventions for mental health successful? In: BJPsych Int. 2017 Nov; 14(4): 82–85.
Ishizu & Zeki. 2011. Toward A Brain-Based Theory of Beauty In: PLoS One 6(7): e21852