On beauty

Does beauty offer refuge from all the upsetting news we hear daily? From our own pains and sorrows?

The Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, in me says: yes. It certainly does for me.

Last week, I presented in an online event my experience how beauty I find every day all around me brings enchantment to my soul and healing to my body. I was delighted that the audience joyfully received my sharing. Let me also share a few of these thoughts on this subject with you, dear reader.

My simple approach is about one way I deal with the many curveballs life throws at me. It’s my way of staying centered, to achieve balance in my life—balance between all that angers me or brings me down and all that gives me joy and meaning.

You see, I do not seek to evade or be protected from the harsher realities of life. I just don’t want these more painful realities to overwhelm me. I want to stay in love with life.

My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The pina and the colada. 

Ellen DeGeneres (Seriously… I’m Kidding)

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I did not go into denial. Rather, I embraced my condition entirely and committed to staying fully present so I could team up with my medical caretakers to determine a course of treatment that was best for me, my body. I carved out time for self-care by putting other activities on pause.

Vernon Howard, a spiritual teacher who emphasized the need for self-awareness, encapsulated the overarching principle of my process when he said,

The miracle of self-healing occurs when the inner patient yields to the inner physician.

What that means to me is that our wellness and our healing are, to a large extent, up to us. As we pay closer attention to our inner workings—in our body, in our mind, in our emotions—we become more aware of our needs and can take the right actions to activate our natural healing forces.

To heal, we can do more than just submit to the medical procedures. If you’ve read my other posts, you know I take an evidence-based approach. I listen to my doctors’ suggestions, do the research, then decide what treatments to allow. I’ve already undergone surgery, chemo, adjuvant therapy, and radiation, and I continue taking hormonal therapy pills.

But along the way, I knew the medical route was not all there was to my healing. I also paid attention to nutrition, exercise, and sleep. To stay in a good emotional state, I sought hugs, humor, and… beauty.

When so much feels uncertain, feeling safe is important to me. Whatever else is going on in my life, the threats, the pressures, the pains, when I take a moment to focus on beauty, it creates a safe space in my heart, in my body, in my mind… that leads to less fear, less fight or flight, and that alone is healing.

Bruce Lipton, former professor of medicine at Stanford University and bestselling author of The Biology of Belief, found that

The moment you change your perception is the moment you rewrite the chemistry of your body.

That’s an important finding, because it puts at least some control in our hands.

Seeking ordinary beauty helps me not only find calm amid storms; it also reveals the pathway to wonder and discovery.

Wonder is the desire for knowledge.

Thomas Aquinas

My sense of wonder and curiosity is strong. I can confidently say that I’ve been on a lifelong learning path.

The emerging science of wonder corroborates how our experiences of beauty can strengthen us amid hardship and protect us from hardening up or becoming cynical.

Even when there are no external pressures, I believe that present-moment awareness of beauty keeps my life open to the unlimited energy inside me, no matter what my physical condition is.

Beauty awakens the soul to act.

A few of my photos of things I find beautiful.

I intentionally turn to beauty to ground me…

  • when I get bad news or something upsetting happens
  • when I sense I’ve spent too much time in my head, thinking, problem-solving, trouble-shooting
  • when I’m ruminating about the past or worried about the future
  • when I feel pain in my body
  • when I’m restless or bored
  • when I feel deep discontent, confused, or energy-depleted
  • when I need to reconnect with my purpose
  • when I feel I just need to get away from it all

Any of that sound familiar?

Of course, I also keep my eyes open for charm and enchantment just for its own sake. Our recent marvelous road trip through the Cordillera mountains of northern Philippines was just that.

Today I’ve shared my reasons for seeking beauty in my life and the times I do so. In a future (probably next) post, I’ll write about the various places, near and far, I search for beauty, and my simple way to help me focus on it.

When you look at a flower with an appreciative heart and get lost in the magical beauty, you really get a vacation from the everyday stressful life.

Debasish Mridha

Does beauty play a role in your life? And if not, what do you do to keep a balance between all that enchants and disenchants? How do you stay in love with life?

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  • Awesome entry, Francisca. Your thoughts uplift me and remind me of the many ways in which you and I and all-worldly and other-worldy are connected. I too have (re)discovered how the moments of beauty are always there for the taking; we choose whether to take the time to let them in. Birdsong, loud/soft music (the genre of which always varies depending on the moment but more and more has roots in indigenous rhythm and melody), silence, movement (observing and participating, especially dancing around my spaces!), smells both fragrant and not (!) – particularly as I sporadically recover from not being able to smell much for several years, textures, thoughts, readings…I am a lucky being to be able to experience any or all of these. Beauty in many forms.

    • Connected, indeed, Jenniekins. We are not only fortunate to experience beauty in its endless forms, we are wise to choose to do so. 🌸🙏🌸

  • Beauty comes in many forms, and it is nice to have a reminder because it is out there–we just need to open our awareness and see it, imbibe of it, to benefit from it, not allow it to be buried from our sight. Thanks for sharing these thoughts–and the many beautiful experiences we have had together over the years.

  • This. Was. Beautiful. Oh how I wish the world would embrace this approach to addressing all the good and the bad.

    Marvellous lessons in this ❤️

  • Absolutely Francisca, right on my page. Beauty in the smell of the first rose that blooms, the singing of the birds and the wonder of experiencing with greater awareness the beauty at every moment. The joy of picking daisies, appreciative that this tiny flower has so many healing properties.
    Rachel l. Carson , The Sense of Wonder 1956… “to renew your own delight in the mysteries of earth, sea and sky”

    • Of course on your page, Alison! 😊 Your insightful book, “Daring to Feel: Awaken the Healer Within” addresses self-healing straight on, and beauty, in nature especially, is a big part of it. 🌸🙏🌸

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