Seeing The Beauty Within You

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free” Michaelangelo

After a particularly difficult yoga teacher training I vowed to never be part of that group again. So it was to my own surprise that I considered doing one more course with them years later. Why was it then that I had a change of heart? The reason is so astoundingly simple, the teacher taking the course was the one person that had come to me and shown me love, he had greeted me with a smile, and had talked and acted around me as if I was a Buddha in disguise. Nothing that had gone on during the week had affected his vision of me, to him I was worthy and noble and beautiful just like every other one of the participants.

We all have people in our life that have transmitted this to love to us. These are the ones who have stood by our side and loved us regardless of circumstance. This act of treating people like they are beautiful, and worthy is the first principle of Buddhist psychology. If we look at those around us as if they noble then we are likely to encourage them to feel and act that way also. If we take time out to see that bright side of people, rather than their misdoings then it can have a contagious effect. This is the purpose of the word Namaste. It means I see and honor what is holy in you. When we greet each other with this word we are saying we accept you as light, bright beautiful and noble.

Isn’t that what it is like when we fall in love? We see the perfection in that person. When we do  it gets shone right back at us like a flashlight of love. However after some time we might start to see some cracks or flaws and stop seeing their beauty and nobility. We may start to get drawn into those imperfections, forgetting what it was we even liked about that person to start with.

Shifting our vision to see the Buddha within is a new way of living. Whatever someone is going through or however someone is acting or speaking, it asks us to go beyond the cracks or bumps and witness their underlying personal goodness.  It encourages us to remember the wholeness and the love within that person.

Practice for this week: Choose someone in your home or workplace and view them with new eyes, eyes of respect and acknowledgement of the good within them. Go beyond the marble stony outer to the true beauty within.

Junk in the Trunk

As I sat on my overstuffed suitcase attempting to zip it up I contemplated if I really needed those hotel shampoos, soaps and moisturizers. Maybe I should take them out? Or maybe I should leave them ‘just in case’. Zipping up now became a two person job, one to push and one to zip. I was totally overweight.

During yoga teaching I often refer to the body as a suitcase, the hips to stuff our frustration, the shoulders to stuff our anger, the mind to accumulate junk from the past and the heart  a cage of accumulated betrayal and shame. When we don’t know how to deal with what confronts us in this world we do what any good person would do and that is to shove it in the top drawer with the socks, band aids, pens that don’t work and bits of string we have no need for.

I gave my class homework this week to clear out a place in their life where they had ‘accumulated’ stuff they don’t need. Just so for one moment they could taste the freedom of letting go of what no longer serves them. We spend our life in accumulation until we reach the point where we have kind of forgotten the purpose of our original desire. Still we insist on plugging the holes of our existence with material things. It feels for an instant that if you want something enough and manage to obtain it, you can find peace and happiness, and this is true, definitely, in that one moment you obtain it. Soon you will be home with your shiny new watch, or you will have gotten that lunch, girl, house, job, car. Definitely you are happy! Then watch as it fades. The item get’s scratched, the new lover has flaws, the house doesn’t get the sun, your new boss isn’t what you expected. So you start the search again. This can be a lifelong hobby.

It’s quite likely you have more than you  need already and what you desire, what you truly want, is already with you. If you take a moment now to think ‘what is it that I truly want is this life?’ you may surprise yourself to find that is would be something like this, peace, a feeling of belonging and connectedness, a feeling of being loved and of loving, or a desire to be more present to what you have now and to those around you.  At the top of you list may well be Love. I want to be loved.

Practice for today. As you move through this life there are only three things that matter at the end of our journey. Have you lived fully? Have you loved well? Have you learned to let go? These three things are the glue of our existence, measuring each step along our way. Today rid yourself of any accumulated thought, feeling, or object. Fill that space something that really matters.