I spent this last weekend with my Ayurveda teacher and business mentor at her annual summer retreat. It was over the pass in Alta, Wyoming. Around 30 women from across North America gathered together to see what was possible in three days. To meet face to face after connecting virtually through cables and bytes. A fourth day was devoted to my Mastermind group of six, led by our mentor Cate Stillman. As we held space for one another throughout the weekend many concepts, ideas, and thoughts were examined and broken apart. The one that had the biggest impact on me was the concept of beauty; inner and outer beauty. We talked about how when beauty is joined with truth and goodness it creates the evolutionary potential to expand. We discussed that when you let go of that which holds you back in life you are then free to take the next step, and this is when you begin to have impact on those around you.
When making changes in life, whether habits, thought patterns, or ways of being, resistance pops up and tries to keep us safe by leaving things the way they’ve always been. It’s familiar, we’ve lived it before and we know what will happen. Stepping outside of the familiarity is where the danger lies. What might happen? What might go wrong? We have no idea, we are only left with our imagination. My favorite book on this subject is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
During the retreat we gathered together with a purpose, with a desire to deepen the conversation around awakening to our fullest potential. With the support of the group I looked within at my own beliefs, my thought patterns, as well as where I wanted to go, and in this search many challenges surfaced. My challenges, which I often refer to as my resistance, came out and cause me to hold back, wanting to keep me safe in my old way of being. The resistance begins before I can see the shift, the new habit or pattern, and in feeling this resistance while not seeing the results it is easy to give up. When I am wanting to be somewhere I’m not, all I can see is the end result. My mind fixated on where I want to be rather than what steps I need to take to get there. When I want to forgo the process I know I need to slow down. During this time as the resistance arises, the friction builds. There is a rub, an irritation, something annoying that’s bothering me.
When I allow myself to stay with the feeling, with the rub, it creates heat, in yoga we call this tapas. This heat or fire can burn away or clarify what is really at heart. Not staying held back or trapped in my old pattern, my old belief, but allowing the old, the unnecessary to fall away, to make space, to make room for the new. Nature abhors a vacuum, new space will soon be filled, but this time, (here is the work) with conscious patterns, habits, and thoughts.
I believe that we are all made up of energy. In Ayurveda it is taught that like increases like and opposites decrease. Within this teaching when energy is moving in a particular direction it gains momentum, traction. To stop moving in that direction and change in 180°, can be very challenging. Think about a large barge that has so much weight and energy moving forward, to make a shift will require huge amounts of energy and time. Often it feels easier to stay on the path, doing the comfortable and what feels the most familiar.
At the retreat there was a discussion about lining up your internal beauty with your external beauty. We talked about the potential of who we can become, and while exploring this potential we must look at the balance of good, truth, and beauty. In this triad beauty has often been downplayed.
What would be the consequence of downplaying goodness in society? How about truth? I’m not sure I want to live in a world that doesn’t have those attributes.
But when you look around planet earth there is so much natural beauty, how can it not be included? What are the consequences of not having beauty in our world?
The idea of beauty has come and gone for me over the years. There have been times in my life that I have made an effort to care for my outer beauty and other phases that I haven’t given it much thought. When I lived in San Diego I took Graphic Design classes and loved dressing up for class. Using my creativity to put together an outfit to outwardly reflect how I felt inside. One of my teachers, Candice Lopez, often used to comment on my outfits and the inspiration I would spark. When I moved to Jackson there wasn’t as many occasions to dress up and I’ve slowly slipped back into a rut of not taking the time or care to put forth the effort. At first I told myself this is so I would fit in better and not stand out, so that I would feel more comfortable. But over the weekend I realized it wasn’t just so I would feel more comfortable, it was also so others around me would feel more comfortable.
I have been spending time cleaning up my inner body and thoughts, and I have been neglecting my outer body. By not expressing myself creatively with joy as I decide what to wear, I am not expressing my truth. I am allowing my thoughts to subconsciously tell myself I don’t look good, I’m not worth it to dress how I want. I’ve created a chasm between this inner and outer version of myself.
Through the discussion this weekend I realized I have been hiding out behind this story for a while. Allowing it to pull my energy in a direction that is not aligned with how I want to see and feel about myself. As a female there is often cultural and religious shame in the area of beauty. There is so much judgement, objectification, and rejection all based on how you look on the outside. I have often felt and have been told that it is selfish and shallow to spend time making myself feel beautiful. I have judged other women based on how much time it looked like they took, or mentioned it took to get ready. As I struggle and notice the resistance arise around cultivating my outer beauty I reflect back on the impact it’s had on my lack of confidence.
When I show up just having thrown on what was most comfortable at home, I feel uncomfortable around others who have taken time on themselves. When I tell myself it doesn’t matter how I look, I tell myself it doesn’t matter how I feel. I am not saying this as a way to judge myself or others, but I say this as I look at the lies I have told myself over the years. That I am not important or valuable enough to care for. I don’t believe your value can be derived from anyone else, it has to come from within. For if you don’t believe this yourself it doesn’t really matter what anyone else says. As I begin to care and love myself for who I am today, I can begin to express that love by taking care of the only person I truly can, myself.