What is inner Beauty? How do I recognize it in others? How do I recognize it in myself? How does one cultivate inner beauty, especially when there are questions about what it is and how to recognize it?
There is a show called Trial and Error–John Lithgow’s most recent comedy. In each episode, one character reveals a syndrome or condition that she has. She has revealed that she “suffers” from the inability to recognize faces, dyslexia, foreign language syndrome, and Stendahl syndrome. “Suffers” is a bit of a misnomer, however, because she is a happy, cheerful person, who is always smiling.
Stendahl syndrome is a condition where someone shows symptoms like dizziness, fainting, or uncontrollable weeping, in the presence of beautiful things.
I do not have Stendahl syndrome, but I did experience such a moment once. I was on NJ Transit, out of Newark, and a mom was sitting across the aisle and down a couple seats from me with her two kids, who were maybe 6 and 8. Watching the kids interact: playing, teasing, hanging on each other, I could think of nothing but how beautiful they were. As I kept watching them and seeing the beauty of these children, I could not help it, but I just cried. I felt really silly sitting there on public transportation with tears streaming out of my eyes. But they were so beautiful I could not help it.
Beauty has the ability to move someone, sometimes to tears. I think that this movement is one of the things that characterizes beauty. Does something move you? That movement is a feeling, sometimes uncontrollable, maybe that is why it feels elusive and foreign. People today like to be in control; anything that feels out of control (like an emotion, much less an uncontrollable emotion, or anything that has the ability to move someone uncontrollably) is to be dismissed, overcome, or suppressed in today’s “modern” world.
I think this is a clue to the answer to my question, “how do I recognize it?” It’s not like I want to be moved to tears uncontrollably whenever I see something beautiful, but I do want to be attuned to that movement within me.
I believe that following the course of this Journey, I will learn this attunement; I will be able to feel the movement that beauty initiates, and I will be able to associate the movement with certain inner and outer experiences, thus cultivating more of a conscious “gut feeling” about what beauty is, and how I create it in my life.
Looking for Beauty: It’s spring in New Jersey, there is beauty everywhere: tulips, daffodils, hydrangea, new fresh green buds on the trees, lots of bird activity, little animals all about. At the restaurant where I ate lunch today, there was a wall of wood, with moss and a succulent garden growing up (down?) the wall–beautiful!
I also looked for beauty in my friends and family. I look for their unique light. I look into their heart. I see something indescribable when I look. I believe that this, too, will teach me to attune to the inner beauty of others as well as myself.
Intentionally creating something Beautiful. Well, I am getting the hang of this one, still. I did create beautiful things today (conversations, relationships, interactions with friends and family), but I can’t say that I did it with the intention of doing it. But I am not sure. I knew I was doing it at the time, but I hadn’t thought about it in advance. The whole point of this is to make a decision to create something beautiful, then do it. Well, I still have some time “today”, but perhaps not before I post this. I may have to follow up on this tomorrow, and before I go to sleep, I will decide to make something beautiful. Just so.
Connecting with my Beautiful Self. This takes just a moment. You can do it right now–I just did. Bring your attention to your heart. See your uniqueness. It’s there! Inside you! Feel it. See it. Your beautiful self. It only takes an instant. Smile at yourself, at your beauty. Yeah, that’s it. You’re beautiful.
How are you doing with beauty? Any insights you’d like to share? Any wisdom? Like I said a couple days ago, I think that most people have a better sense of beauty than I do. Of course…I could be wrong, but if you are one of those people, or if you just see something I do not, let me know! Peace, you beautiful thing, you.