By Erica Matluck, ND, NP
Whomever said that “beauty is only skin deep” either completely misunderstood what it means to be beautiful or they were never in the presence of the kind of beauty we’re all striving for. Beauty is not something that can be seen- it must be felt- and this is why true beauty cannot be attained through products, cosmetics and services. While lifestyle habits, such as nutrition, sleep, hydration, stress management, and choosing products consciously may be part of a beauty routine, they are not everything. True beauty is holistic and requires a holistic approach.
We spend so much time, money and energy beautifying the physical body- but beauty is not a physical matter. Physical wellbeing contributes to beauty, but the physical attributes we strive for are fleeting, while the beauty of the holistic self is eternal. The holistic self is composed of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parts of oneself. And when beauty radiates from all four of these quadrants at once, it transforms everyone in its presence. This is true beauty.
Many of us are taught from a very young age how to make our bodies more beautiful. We have plenty of great products and services to support this quadrant of ourselves. But few of us are taught what it means to create beauty holistically. What makes the mind beautiful and why does it matter? What does a beautiful heart feel like? How does a beautiful spirit act? Perhaps no-one is asking these questions because they cannot be answered with a product, but this is the line of inquiry that leads to true beauty.
A beautiful mind uses thoughts to create beauty. We cannot create true beauty through negative thought forms, fear or judgmental opinions- so using the mind to create beauty means regular detoxification from the negativity bias we are all exposed to. In western culture, we are inundated by media that drives fear, anxiety, polarity and negativity. This influences our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves and the world. A beautiful mind knows that we are enough just as we are, and until we let go of the cultural conditioning limiting this understanding, we cannot create true, holistic beauty. The mind and body are not separate. They are directly connected via the nervous system, and this is why our thoughts impact our physical appearance. True beauty relies on the participation of the mind. Just as beautiful skin requires a clear complexion, a beautiful mind requires clarity of thought. This is why meditation is an essential practice in any beauty routine.
To be in the presence of true beauty is to experience the power of the heart. Beauty is the lens of love, and it allows us to live in love. The electrical amplitude and the magnetic field of the heart are stronger than that of the brain and can be measured quite a distance from the physical body. When we generate positive feelings, such as love, compassion and gratitude, it increases our heart rate variability (which correlates with favorable health outcomes), leading to greater coordination between the nervous system, endocrine system and immune system. This harmonizes the entire energetic field around us impacting all those we come into contact with. The feelings of love, compassion and gratitude are contagious and this is the experience of a beautiful heart. Emotions are simply chemical messengers in the body, and they only last 90 seconds- so if you want to create true beauty you must train yourself to generate positive emotions frequently.
Beauty is undoubtedly a spiritual matter. It is an experience of the divine because beauty is our natural state. The desire to become more beautiful simply reflects that we have forgotten what we really are. We are all nature. We are all source. We are all existence. We are all the creator. We are all beauty in human form. When we acknowledge that we are not separate from one another and that we are all part of the same whole, beauty is no longer an individual quality, but it belongs to all of us. When we embody this understanding, we radiate beauty in every direction. To generate beauty of spirit we do not have to do anything- because spiritual beauty is not about doing, it’s about being. This is not something you can integrate into your beauty routine. It is the embodied remembrance of oneness.
Here are a few practices to approach beauty from a holistic lens:
Detox your mind.
Become aware of your thoughts. When you notice yourself thinking negatively, judging others or yourself, pause and reframe your thoughts. Try replacing it with something more positive.
Change your language.
Notice every time you say (or think) “I can’t”, “I should”, “I’m trying to”, “I need to” , etc. and replace them with more self affirming statements.
Use your heart.
Close your eyes and imagine that your breath is moving in and out of your heart. Practice generating love, compassion and gratitude by imagining (1) someone you love and appreciate; (2) someone who is suffering that you have a genuine desire to help; and (3) 5 things or people you are grateful for in your life.
Spend 5-10 minutes daily practicing this.
Get into nature.
The best way to remember what you really are is experience the awe of nature. Go to the mountains and let the view move you to tears. Visit the seaside and take in the vastness of the ocean. Stargaze under the night’s sky and ponder the phrase “as above so below”.
Be intentional with your products.
When choosing products, research the ingredients and avoid anything with concern for toxicity. A general rule for me is, if a product isn’t safe for pregnant women, it is not safe for anyone! When choosing between two non-toxic options, try each one, pause and notice how they make you feel.