True Beauty: Honor the God or Goddess in You

Extreme makeovers are all the rage these days, with botox injection parties, and reality shows. Plastic surgery is on the rise. Many people are trying to match the extraordinary measures actors and actresses go through to look perfect on the screen. These are shortcuts taken to try to create happiness with a scalpel, a diet, or an implant, and they don’t fulfill their promise. Beautiful people are not automatically happy people.

Diva-dom, god-ness, is just a way of expressing the goal of the human quest-to attain the highest expression of the beautiful being you are is not about sex, or perfection, and you can’t get there via technology. It’s a growth process, a transformation of self through awareness and learning. It’s about meaning, and being real. It’s an emotional and spiritual walk, and it requires faith fueled with liberal doses of loving kindness.

Every day, I have the delight and privilege of loving Richard, my husband, a real, human, fallible man. We’re about the same age, he’s losing hair, I’ve gained weight. But, after almost 20 years, we have fused our hearts and souls, if not our personalities. He clearly loves me, though I often frustrate him, and I am grateful for his presence in my life on a daily basis. Our sex life is lovely, thank you, even if it doesn’t match movie fantasies. We laugh together, we share the struggles of daily life together, and the thought that he might die before I do fills me with dread. All the buffed up male models in the world couldn’t replace my very own, live and kicking, formerly red-haired leprechaun. It took me 37 years to find him, and I’m not about to replace him with so-called “perfection”.

My friends and I are no more perfect. We can be cranky, we occasionally carelessly hurt each others’ feelings, they don’t always say the right thing. But, we are here for each other when we’re really needed, we do our best to be caring and kind, and we forgive each others’ imperfections.

Perfection, particularly media perfection, is highly overrated. Clients come to my psychotherapy office every day in considerable emotional pain because their lives aren’t “perfect” enough. They feel inadequate, dissatisfied, hopeless and frustrated because they can’t attain life as they see it on the big screen. I have to break the news that those people up there have problems in their real lives, too, and refocus my clients on accomplishing normal things that work for them..

All the face creams, cardio workouts, healthy diets, Prozac and meditation tapes in the world aren’t going to make their lives, their bodies, or their mental state much better. Life is not about remaining young and photogenic. It’s about growing your soul.

The only way I know to develop my soul is through feelings. Awe at natural phenomena (the star-lit heavens, a centuries-old redwood, the gorgeous flowers of the Mandevilla vine at my gate) stretches it, making me yearn and aspire. Human relationships bruise, batter and comfort it, teaching me resilience and humility. Love urges my soul to blossom and glow, compassion causes it to blur at the edges, and so I learn to accept others as they are.

The humans in my life are not the narcissistic, self-absorbed “beautiful people” of the screen. We’re ordinary, real, imperfect people, like you-the ones who really keep this country and the world going. Together, we work hard at life, trying to be our best selves, taking care of our families and each other, and striving to bring our personal ethics and aspirations alive in the world. We come from numerous backgrounds and religions, we don’t always approve of each other’s decisions, but we care for each other the best we can. We struggle to be less self-indulgent, more compassionate and understanding. We try to resist the fads, the manipulations of advertising, the con artists who prey on our weaknesses. We survive through government administrations we don’t agree with, through natural and unnatural disasters that take our loved ones and possessions, through fads and fancies that are often unhealthy. From each event, we learn, we stretch, we recover, we process the emotional aftermath, and we move on. These life events are the soul’s workout, and though we may groan and complain, we can feel the growth eventually.

Today, an elder of my church, a man in his late 70s, pretty physically battered and a bit stooped over, proved to be one of the most forward-thinking of the whole congregation. Life has beaten him up a bit, but it has not passed him by. His spirit glows radiantly. Have you ever seen an elderly person like that? One whose wisdom shows in his or her eyes, and whose love is not flamboyant, just there in a gentle query about your health, or a brief touch that calms and reassures. The spirit that shines from within them is true beauty, and it can’t be bought in a jar.

The miracle is, that each of us has the total capacity to achieve this perspective, this fullest embodiment of the highest expression of soul, even as our bodies wear out and crumble.

Here’s a visualization to help you access the god or goddess within, your inner wise person:

Picture a person of seventy or more-just the kind of elder you admire, the one you would like to become. Financially secure, in good health, surrounded by people who care, good friends and family… active with lots of interests… Introduce yourself to this elder, and notice your names are the same… this is you, later in life… Make an agreement with this ideal older self that you will get advice about what decisions you need to make as life goes on, to live to a healthy and happy state of being. Continue your conversation as long as you wish, and ask what your elder’s secret is for living to such a lovely old age.

Once this contact is established, you can check out your decisions regularly by using this wise mentor within. For example, how does this inner counselor react to your life choices? At that advanced age, will you look back on what you’ve done and think it was worth it? Does your wise self approve? Does he or she think your choice will last? What is the difference between what’s important to you, and what this inner counselor regards as important?

All the experiences of your life, especially the difficult ones, have taught you valuable skills-using what you’ve learned in life to help yourself and others can create meaning out of pain. Buddhist teachers note that poisonous plants and venoms become healing medicines with careful processing. Every trial that you face has something to teach you and can become a source of wisdom-this inner counselor will help you access what you know.

It is a very effective tool to help you look at your own life and your decisions from a different and valuable perspective. The decisions you make today affect the rest of your life, and you are ultimately the only person to whom you are accountable and for whom you are responsible. Every new decision is truly a new life’s resolution.

Beauty Salon, Beauty Salon, Wherefore Art Thou Beauty Salon?

In the modern world people are more beauty conscious than ever. There is a continuous demand and search for good service providers in this arena. The business for the beauty salon is on the rise, and it is getting more and more difficult to find good salons as per your need. There are number of ways available for you to find a good beauty salon for you. Your choice may depend on many factors some of them may be quality of service provided, types of services provided, distance, cost, goodwill and repute of the salon etc. To find a good beauty salon of your choice, there are two major factors on which you should concentrate your search.

Finding a Beauty Salon

Your hunt for the beauty salon of your choice begins with the distance you want to cover to get the services you desire. For that you can get the help from the local business directories and news papers and magazines. Your daily visits to the workplace and markets do a great help in this regard. Now you will be left with a decent number of beauty salons to look in.

The Next step is to look for the services you want from the beauty salon. Most of the salons concentrate over only few popular services, and it is rare to find a salon which offers you all services under one roof. Your target would narrow down further.

Now it is time for consideration of the company’s reputation and good will; in order to find out about this you can go through the Better Business Bureau, which is a business that is dedicated solely to making sure the public is aware of the authenticity and status of companies. Beside that there are number of organizations to guide you in this regard.

You can get the help from your friends, family members and your neighborhood too, to get their opinions on the salons in your list, and this way you will get a precise opinions with regard to the salons. You will be able to gather not only the crucial information about the reputation and the quality of service provided by the salon, but you will be able to get precise ideas about the rates they usually charge to their customers and other bargains available for you.

Another option available is to go there personally once and have a talk with personnel that are working there, this would be ideal way to get the first hand knowledge about the friendliness of staff, as well as the services that they offer there, and other relevant facts like the pricing and all. You may get the chance to interact with the customers there get an idea about the quality of services offered. This would help you to see whether or not you like the place.

Always try to have patience during your research. Sometime it may be frustrating and confusing because there will be so many different salons (thank god you have already prepared your list). It is better to stay calm and get yourself focused on your target while you are checking out the different salons, because after all, one that you choose should the best and convenient for you in all aspects. You are going to be spending a lot of time there for relaxation and beauty purposes, and it should be a place where you can enjoy yourself during the stay.

This is why talking to the staff personally to get the assessment of the staff’s personality is important, because you will be there for a long duration of time, and you have the right enjoy the company of the people that are around you.

Beauty – Need to Re-Discover It?

The spirit of our times seems to no longer value beauty.

Prince Charles was talking to the Royal Institute of British Architects at the occasion of their 150th anniversary about the proposed extension of the National Gallery.

“What is proposed is like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved and elegant friend.” (Prince of Wales)

He had seen much British architecture as sterile and plain ugly.

Is this still true? And do we need to re-discover beauty around us?

Defining beauty

When we see something beautiful its beauty is subjectively felt. Yet, the concept of beauty and ugliness is elusive and difficult to put into words and define. Perhaps this is because of individual differences in our appreciation of it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one person finds beautiful, another merely sentimental. One, attractive, another repulsive.

Beauty has been said to be something to do with appreciating harmony, balance, rhythm. It captures our attention, satisfying and raising the mind.

It is not the objects depicted by art that defines whether something is beautiful or ugly. Instead it is how the object is dealt with that makes it possibly inspirational.

Spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg suggests that what arouses our feeling that a human face is beautiful is not the face itself, but the affection shining from it. It is the spiritual within the natural that stirs our affections, not the natural on its own.

“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives; the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.” (Audrey Hepburn)

Beauty can also occur even in suffering.

“Even in some of the most painful moments I’ve witnessed as a doctor, I find a sense of beauty… That our brains are wired to register another person’s pain, to want to be moved by it and do something about it, is profoundly heartening.” (Physician-poet Rafael Campo)

Creative art

Roger Scruton, philosopher, points out that between 1750 and 1930 the aim of art or music was beauty. People saw beauty as valuable as truth and goodness. Then in the 20th century it stopped being important. Then many artists aimed to disturb, shock and to break moral taboos. The earliest of these was Marcel Duchamp e.g. his installation of a urinal. It was not beauty, but originality and irony and other intellectual ideas that they focused on. This is what won the prizes no matter the moral cost.

The art world now believes that those who look for beauty in art, are just out of touch with modern realities. Since the world is disturbing, art should be disturbing too. Yet I would suggest that what is shocking first time round is uninspiring and hollow when repeated.

“If the world is so ugly, what’s the point of making it even uglier with ugly music?… I have tried to make it sound as beautiful as I can. Otherwise what’s the point… So if you want to hear how ugly the modern world is,… you can just switch on the television and listen to the news. But I think that most people go to concerts because they want to hear beautiful music. Music full of melodies that you can hum or sing. Music that speaks to the heart. Music that wants to make you want to smile or cry or dance. (Alma Deutscher, 12 year old concert violinist/pianist)

If there are still any artists creating beautiful objects of art, I suspect, like any good news in the newspapers, they are not getting the headlines.

Awakening to the spiritual

In addition to much of our contemporary art and built environment, can we also detect a grating unattractiveness – not to mention self-centeredness and offensiveness – now coming into the language and manners shown in our mass media? As though beauty has no longer any real place in our lives.

So when we find ourselves in the soup of negativity, do we give ourselves time to be open to beauty?

“What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare…

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare. (William Henry Davies)

Effect on us of cultural change

I’m wondering if by losing beauty we are also losing something else. Something I would describe as a deeper perception of what is good and innocent in life.

Scruton suggests that living without this deeper perception is like living in a spiritual desert. He argues that the artists of the past were aware that life was full of chaos and suffering. But they had a remedy for this and the remedy was beauty. He reckons that the beautiful work of art brings consolation in sorrow and affirmation in joy. It shows human life to be worth-while.

Beauty – A reminder of transcendent reality

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But is beauty only a subjective thing? Is there also an objective reality to it?

Perhaps we need to re-visit the wisdom of the ancients. According to Plato, beauty, like justice, and goodness, is an eternally existing entity. He said it eternally exists, regardless of changing social conceptions and circumstances. This would mean that beauty has existed even when there was no one around to notice it.

It takes millions of years for light to travel the vast distance to reach our telescopes. So we now see the beauty of the stars as they were before human beings existed.

I would say beauty is something, that at its heart, has the reality of innocence – the innocence of absolute Love Itself.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” (John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn)

Book Review of Eating For Beauty

Don’t let the title fool you-Eating for Beauty runs more than skin deep! For years, I’ve toyed with the idea of buying this book. The title intrigued me, but it also remained outside my category of “must-have books.” Beauty doesn’t rank up there with, say, health. Or does it?

Raw food guru David “Avocado” Wolfe explains how physical beauty reflects the health of our inner organs. The idea that our skin reveals the condition of our colon is not exactly news, but David goes beyond theories and tells us why. He explains absorption, acid-alkaline balance, and free radicals in understandable terms. He then identifies certain “beauty minerals,” what they do, and why people tend to run low on them.

A list of the most beautifying foods includes more than superficial descriptions of anti-oxidants. David also cites chemical analyses, including which elements appear most strongly in any given item. Where not obvious, he suggests ways of eating these beauty foods, and sometimes he offers delightful historical uses. I find the book a valuable aid to share with students since it gives people an understanding of the “why.” The scientific, methodical approach, coupled with lovely Kirlian photography, helps readers to reach his conclusions with ease.

Besides theory and practical advice, David offers recipes and supplements. Yes, you can buy most things from his websites, and yes, that can get annoying in some books that read more like extensive product catalogs. Eating for Beauty provides so much background, though, that it leaves readers convinced of the value of those products.

Because David gives tips for inviting beauty into our lives on all levels, the book provides far more than a 186-page sales pitch. He talks about:

* Breathing, yoga, and laughter.

* The ancient Greeks’ connection of physical and spiritual beauty.

* The healing powers of organic produce items available at most grocery stores.

* How to use grapefruit to get rid of cellulite.

* How to produce more hydrochloric acid for better digestion.

* Fresh juices to banish dark circles or improve the singing voice.

I found this book a surprisingly fun and informative read, and it has already become a much-used reference book. Even if you think you’re looking for “more than beauty,” give this book a chance. With its encyclopedic scope, you’re sure to find something of lasting value.

There Is No Beauty Without Struggle

In the course of our life, we have to agree that there is no beauty without struggle. No one likes to hear the story of someone who got everything easily. People want to listen to the stories of men and women who, while born in the valley of struggle, endured pain and turned their battles into a gift.

So, how can you get stronger? What can you do transform struggle into beauty? Do you want people to look up to you? Or do you want people just to feel sorry for you?

Today or tomorrow, you might feel frustrated. Maybe your dreams are not a concrete reality yet. Your life or career may somehow have taken a wrong turn. But to change that, the first thing you have to do is to search within yourself. So, I will tell you a quick story about my unusual path of change and transformation from battles to beauty over the years.

If I relate this tale, it is because it is relevant to the subject of struggle, change, and beauty. The story begins as I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be and do something different than anyone else. But I just could not figure out what it was.

A Period Of Wandering and Struggle

Even to this day, all kinds of subjects interest me. In school, I liked biology. But growing up with horses, I naturally drifted into working with them. Then one day, after a few years, I was draft in the Soviet navy for three long years. I was sent away far from everything I cherished, near the Arctic pole.

At first, this news was like a punch in the stomach. But in the months that followed, I realized that I loved animals but entered a career that just did not suit me. It was merely a way to make a living and travel. This realization initiated a period of wandering and struggle in my life.

After my duty in the navy, I defected while in the USA, traveled all across North America and Europe, and worked at every conceivable job. I was a waiter in Florida, became a security guard in Belgium, worked as a zookeeper in Colorado, then change to be an assistant surgeon for a veterinarian. Then I entered the Hollywood film business where I worked as a figurant and stuntman, to then convert as a chauffeur in Russia.

The Beauty of It All

I also worked as a shoe salesman in Texas, served as a customer representative for a sightseeing tour in Austria. In between, I even wandered back to my native Ukraine where I operated as a chauffeur and bodyguard for escort girls, among other odd jobs. In these long years of wandering, struggle, and beauty, I had totaled over thirty different positions.

So, here I was 50 years old and unable to settle for anything. Yes, I had moments of doubt, but I did not feel lost. Instead, I was searching and exploring, and I was hungry for experiences. During all that time, I also loved writing. That year, while in Belgium, for yet another job, a friend gave me a book.

Suddenly, in reading it, every struggle and everything in my disjointed past seemed to click into place, like magic. The beauty of it all was the result of all of those various experiences. And so, the horses, the veterinarian, the zoo, the film industry, and oddly enough, even the escort job gave me the skills to create my future and get stronger.

The Moral of the Story

All of that experience gave me a vast storehouse of ideas that I could draw upon on. Even those indifferent, seemingly random jobs exposed me to every type of cultures, mentalities, and beliefs. And also the languages I learned while traveling taught me things.

All of these experiences added up to rich layers of knowledge and practice that altered me from the inside out. In my own bizarre and intuitive way, I gave myself the perfect education for what I am to do in my lifetime.

Now the moral of this story is that you might tend to fixate on what you can see with your eyes. As humans, it is the most animal part of our nature. When you look at the changes and transformations in other people’s lives, you see the beauty and good luck that someone had in being at the right place at the right time and disregard the struggle they endured.

Struggle Transforms into Beauty

You see the success that brings the money and the attention. In other words, you see the visible signs of opportunity and prosperity. You compare to the struggle in your own life, but you are grasping at an illusion. What allows for such dramatic changes are the things that occur on the inside of a person and are completely invisible.

So, the beauty is the slow accumulation of knowledge and skills, the incremental improvements in work habits and the ability to withstand criticism. Any change in people’s fortune is merely the visible manifestation of all of that deep preparation over time.

The answer, the key to the ability to transform struggle into beauty is insanely simple. You have to reverse your approach. Stop fixating on what other people are saying, doing or thinking. And end the focus on the money, the connections, or the outward appearance of things.

The Beauty is Looking Inward

Instead look inward! Focus on the smaller internal changes that lay the groundwork for a much larger shift in fortune. It is the difference between grasping at an illusion and immersing yourself in reality. And reality is what will liberate and transform you. Here is how this would work in your own life.

Primal Inclinations

Consider the fact that you are fundamentally unique and one of a kind. Look at the beauty of your DNA, the particular configuration of your brain, and your life’s experiences. In early childhood, this uniqueness manifested itself by the fact that you felt particularly drawn to specific subjects and activities. It is what the book “Mastery” calls primal inclinations.

You cannot rationally explain why you feel so drawn to music, or to words, or to particular questions about the world around you, or any other field.

As you get older, you often lose contact with these inclinations. The struggle comes when you listen to relatives who urge you to follow a particular career path. Or when teachers influence you, or by people that tell you what you are good and bad at. You listen to friends who tell you what is cool and not. At a certain point, you can almost become a stranger to yourself.

Reflect on Beauty and Struggle

And so, you enter career paths that are not suitable for you, emotionally and intellectually. The beauty of your life’s task, your true calling, or your purpose as I call it, is to return to those inclinations and in that uniqueness that marked you at birth.

And whatever age you find yourself, as I did, you must reflect back on those earliest inclinations. You must look at those subjects in the present that continues to spark that intense childlike curiosity in you.

And recap on the struggle of those subjects and activities that you have been forced to do over the past years. Based on these reflections, you determine a direction you must take. So, you have a loose but overall framework which you can explore to find the angles and positions that suit you best.

No Beauty without Struggle

You need to listen carefully to yourself, to your internal radar. For me, it was animal entertainment and Hollywood that did not feel right. And so, you move on slowly narrowing your path, all the while accumulating skills.

Yet, most people do not want struggle, but simple, direct straight lined paths to the perfect position and into success. But instead, you must welcome wrong turns and mistakes. They make you aware of your flaws. And they widen your experiences; they toughen you up and bring the beauty you desire.

If you come to this process at a later age, you must cultivate a new set of skills, just as I did. Get abilities that suits this change and direction you will be taking and find a way to blend them with your previous skills.

No Reward without Challenge

As the slightest opportunity comes your way, you will now exploit it. In fact, you will still struggle but will also attract new opportunities to you because people will sense how prepared you are. So, the way to transform yourself is through your work.

Of course, you might believe that that the beauty of self-transformation comes through a spiritual journey, therapy, a guru who tells you what to do, social experiences or even drugs. But it is not true because most of these are ways of running away from yourself. Instead, follow your inclinations, and you can become who you really are instead of trying to be someone else.

Efforts, challenges and hard times offer you much more value than any other time in your life. You cannot grow or get stronger without struggle and resistance. So be grateful for the beauty of it and work on yourself to ensure that your future gets more pleasure than pain and regrets.