The other day I said offhandedly to Kate something about "feeling beautiful without a mirror". I totally forgot I said that until she reminded me. When she did, it hit me what a different and deeper definition of beauty that is than the one we're accustomed to. It felt revolutionary.
Several years ago, when I began to move toward positive body image, it incorporated a lot of complementing myself and building myself up when I felt insecure; looking in the mirror and telling myself I was beautiful. This is a perfectly good start on the road to loving our bodies and ourselves. But this is a limited sense of beauty, and only a beginning. When I think about the way I was feeling when I said that comment to Kate, it's entirely different than an appearance-based beauty. It was an embodied sense of beauty; a kind wholly non-reliant on the reflection in the mirror. It's a deep knowing of self, an appreciation of our holistic being. Our movements, sensations, and actions. It's a beauty non-reliant on the physical, non-reliant on whatever we happen to be wearing or how our hair looks that day.
This is the sense of beauty that I believe we should work toward. The way we feel in mundane moments, reaching out our hands to water a plant or open a window or lift a cup of tea. A beauty that is not fleeting, but rather a continuous sense that permeates our whole lives. And I find that the more I can feel this sense of beauty, the more I see this ever-present beauty in everyone I encounter. When we stop judging ourselves based on our transient appearance, we stop judging others as well. And that is a completely refreshing feeling.
I challenge all of you to tap into the sense of beauty with no mirror. We rely on mirrors too often to tell us how we're doing. The type of beauty I propose has nothing to do with this. We have mis-defined beauty for too long. I hate, for instance, that there is a "beauty" section in women's magazines that pertains to makeup and accessories and self-grooming. There's nothing wrong with playing with your appearance, but I don't believe this is beauty. It's fun, and it's self-expression, but beauty is not something you take off at the end of the day.
I recently read a wonderful quote in Meggan Watterson's recent book, "Reveal: A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked". She proposes a sense of embodiment "that allows you to let go of every notion about the body except that it's sacred." What if this was our new definition of beauty? A constant knowing of our body's inherent sacredness? This paradigm shift has already changed how I have felt in my body the past few days. By recognizing its sacredness, feeling its sacredness, wholly unrelated to mirrors, I appreciate it so much more.