- Notice an area of your life where you tend to go through the motions. Instead, choose to make beauty. Remember, this is a pure offering to Spirit. The ‘how’ is as important as anything. Wash the dishes in beauty. Make your bed in beauty. Have a conversation in beauty.
- Now notice a place in your life where you have attached to an ideal of beauty, either by chasing it or by rebelling against it. Take back your energy. Reclaim your birthright. Find a way to celebrate the form just as it is. Maybe you think you have a body part that you are unsatisfied with. You ache for your but to look like the one you see in magazines sometimes. Or maybe you wish your life was more glamorous or your work higher quality. Bring acceptance and celebration to these places in physical form. Let yourself step out from the veil of critique and receive the beauty and intelligence of this life. Even diseases have an organizing principle that is quite impressive.
- Practice acknowledging the beauty in others. This goes way beyond empty compliments. Let yourself get into a feeling place around the beauty you are witnessing and give an honest voice to it. And don’t limit it to humans! Let the Earth here your voice of appreciation. Speak to birds of their majesty. Hold the stones close to your heart when they shine in such a magnificent way.
One of the foundational teachings of Earth Medicine is the practice of Beauty. Earth Medicine is the body collective, practical wisdom of our ancestors. As much as anything, it is a path of simply reclaiming our basic humanity. All the practices of Earth Medicine are universal, found in some variation in all the deeply rooted traditions of human healing and spirituality. In reclaiming our basic humanity, we effortlessly heal ourselves and our community. The practice of Beauty is at the heart of this ancient form of healing. The ancestral wisdom of our forbearers lies in wait in our consciousness and within each of our cells. When we call on Earth Medicine and become Earth Keepers, we are simply waking up and reclaiming what is rightfully ours, because it is who we are. Beauty is who we are. In our time beauty, like so many things, has become distorted because it is held unconsciously. Beauty is seen as something that can be defined. Some bodies are accepted as beautiful, some not. Beauty is a moving target, determined and defined by those who have the monetary resources to claim a loud voice in the media and in consumer culture. Beauty is seen as something expensive, something you can cultivate through purchase. And it is tricky, sticky business. On one hand, we want beauty because it speaks to having an abundance of resources. On the other hand, beauty is often seen as appearing hand-in-hand with shallowness. Frequently women who meet the current standards of physical beauty are not taken seriously. Everyone knows a woman who is beautiful cannot also be smart, self-possessed and powerful. I was once told by a woman who came to my yoga class that she had tried to go to another yoga class but had to stop going because the other teacher wasn’t authentic. “I mean, she wears make-up!!” The woman exclaimed. The ‘beautiful woman’ is often portrayed in media as dumb and vain. Or, alternatively, if she happens to be smart, beautiful and also expresses sexuality, she is portrayed as dangerous, cunning and deceptive. Yet we want to be beautiful like the women in those social media ads and magazines, because they look powerful. They seem to have something we do not. Beauty also has a strong association with pain. The pain of the punitive ways we’ve tried to cajole our bodies, personalities, hair and households to conform to whatever the standard happens to be. The diets, the exercise routines, the self-help books. There is the pain of chronic over-functioning to have ‘balance’ and to have enough money to buy the things and the stuff that we have come to believe will make our existence more beautiful. And perhaps deepest of all is the pain of those who have not adequately had their inherent beauty reflected back to them, those who feel deep down inside that they are not and cannot be beautiful and thus cannot be of value. Think of all the energy that has been poured into this flawed equation. What might happen if we decided to, instead, devote that energy to a true celebration of the Beauty in all things and to express the inborn Beauty of being? What sort of healing power might that unleash into our bodies, relationships and world? I imagine a world where all spaces of treatment for imbalances of the body, mind and emotions were spaces created in Beauty and where the fundamental Beauty of the individual seeking treatment was first and foremost. I envision a time when those who have trespassed, causing hurt and harm, were trained to see Beauty in themselves, Beauty in those they had wronged and Beauty in each day. What kind of reconciliation might happen from that place? Walking in Beauty has nothing to do with living in an airy-fairy new-agey sort of way where we ignore the uncomfortable and wrong and just pretend it doesn’t happen. It is actually the opposite. It is the practice of bringing all of life into the light to be recognized and healed. It is a practice of incredible grounding that disavows the hiding, the shame and the lies that we tell when we feel we don’t measure up. Beauty has been divorced from its roots and cut from its living origin. It exists as a confusing enigma in our society. We frequently find ourselves trying to be just beautiful enough to be valued without being so beautiful as to threaten anyone or to draw attention from others that feels difficult to endure. Beauty feels like something that comes from outside, when someone else confirms it. It feels hard-won, difficult to attain and maintain. Much of this struggle comes from the reality that beauty is, indeed, a powerful form of energy. When we are rooted in true Beauty, all of this superficial nonsense and belief that normative beauty somehow determines our value simply falls away like the too-tight skin shed by the snake. Beauty, like love, is not something that can be given, earned, bartered or taken away. Love is who we are. Beauty is who we are. We can choose to express it or repress it. When we discontinue using beauty as a commodity or a way of wielding power over others everything changes. In the Shamanic teachings, we orient ourselves towards Beauty. But the creation or enactment of Beauty isn’t for personal gain or to make things pleasant. It is a sacred act of giving. We create Beauty because it is what we can offer to Spirit. It is the way we feed Spirit. And it is not so much creating Beauty where there was none, but honoring the Beauty that is inherent in all of life. This requires presence. It requires seeing beyond the superficial into the essence of things. It invites us to slow down and really tend to the life that is unfolding in front of us and within us, rather than being distracted by what’s coming later of what happened in the past. It is a sacred act of offering that reveals the true nature of life. When we walk in this way, even things that are very ugly or very unpleasant are experienced as Beautiful. True Beauty is not about adhering to socially sanctioned forms, it is about releasing and amplifying the wild intelligence that exists within all things. True Beauty does require a sacrifice. All healing does. When we orient ourselves towards true Beauty, we will no longer be able to walk in the trance of pursuing ideals. We will no longer be able to numb ourselves by chasing after some image we’ve created in our head about what it means to be ‘balanced’ or ‘calm’ or ‘organized’ or ‘fit’. Remember, Beauty is indeed one of the most raw and powerful energies that exists. And it is us. When we walk in the Beauty way we can no longer deny our own power or the inherent power of others. We will have to face our lives. We will have to feel the full weight of responsibility for that tremendous flow. We are up to this task. It is our birthright. Three ways to practice beauty today: