They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. So when you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see all the beauty you embody or do you begin to make a mental checklist of all the physical “fixes” you need in order to feel beautiful?
Thanks to mass media and advances in technology, we are bombarded by extreme standards of “beauty.” And those standards become more and more difficult to attain, particularly for women. It’s no wonder women are much more self-critical than men. Among women over 18, research states that at least 80% are unhappy with what they see when they look at themselves in the mirror and many don’t even see an accurate reflection.
Looking back, the mirror was a good friend when I was younger. I felt confident about my looks. I felt attractive and received validations from others. There were plenty of men to date. I knew my looks opened doors for me along the way.
But now that I have aged, the mirror has become an annoying relative I’d like to avoid. Sure, I use it to glance over the outfit I’m wearing or to apply my make-up. But ask me when was the last time I stood in front of the mirror stark naked? I have to admit, I now find myself looking to the side or to the floor as I approach the mirror doors on my closet to pull out something to wear.
Shifting Our Self Perception
My ability to see my beauty has been diminishing right along with the collagen in my skin. Subconsciously, it has held me back from actively dating and, ultimately, getting involved in a romantic relationship. And so what do I do? I quietly bury myself in my work. And, I hide behind the excuse of “I’m focusing on my inner self!”
Well there comes a time in everyone’s life where we can no longer hide behind our excuses … that is, if we are honest with ourselves and willing to be in our vulnerability.
Our board members have been quick to point this out to me on multiple occasions, and have encouraged me to change the reflection I choose to see in the mirror. One of the more poignant conversations was when Khaled used the metaphor of a ‘cocoon’ to describe my hiding and perception of self. He asks me to shift how I view this seemingly drab cocoon:
Khaled: Elena, we wish for you to know that you are beautiful. You have been cocooning for sometime, gathering your energy to furnish delicate and multicolored wings. But there comes a time for every butterfly to emerge.
Imagine if the butterflies never left their cocoon? The world [would be] devoid of their beauty, humans would not know of their existence.
We feel that you have perceived yourself as the drab cocoon that holds the butterfly within. But we wish for you to regard the cocoon with reverence for it allows all that is within to develop and become.
When you can see and appreciate the wondrous cocoon, seemingly plain to the naked eye, the warmth of your love envelopes the cocoon and the butterfly will emerge in all the delicacy that is as light as it is strong. Allowing wings to carry it upwards with as much as grace as effortlessness. This is you, Elena. We wish this for you, truly.
Do you view your physical appearance as a drab cocoon? Can you pivot this view and regard it with admiration, recognizing how it has allowed you to grow as a multi-dimensional—not just physical—being?
On another occasion when we were talking about my resistance to dating, I admitted to feeling uneasy about undressing before a man and my underlying fear that I wouldn’t be loved in all my ‘nakedness.’ Once again, my perception of self and appearance came into focus:
Khaled & Arad: We honour your nudity. We recognize your profound beauty. We see how you regard this, your gift of physicality, as a wilted flower.
Elena: [In a self deprecating fashion I interject…] More like an old shriveled up flower!
Khaled & Arad: False! The seed of self-love is planted within you. Deep rooted is the root system that draws all the knowledge and joy that surrounds. Hatching the hard shell of the seed. Splitting, cracking, ushering forth with great force a beautiful rose ever blooming, forcing through every dark and forgotten place within you, a luminescent, lush, lovely reminder of that which is indistinguishable, undiminished. You are an ascendant and breathing goddess. Why resist this, that which is already within you emerging?
Yes, “that which is indistinguishable and undiminished.” Whether it’s the beautiful butterfly or rose that emerges, what is important here is that we recognize we are so much more than the confines of our physical bodies. It is embracing the totality of who we are.
This more expansive view of self has helped me gain a deeper appreciation of who I am and what beauty really means.
Embodying Our Inner Beauty
I’ve read countless articles, as I’m sure you have, about embracing our inner beauty. Many even offer checklists and steps to cultivating self-love in our lives. But I find myself resorting back to old beliefs that have been ingrained in my subconscious mind for years. Do you?
Today, I wanted to offer a perspective from a different source, one that is not tied to, let’s just say, man’s limitations.
I wanted to offer some tangible way that we can better access and truly embody our inner beauty, our self-love, for embodiment is where change really happens. So Eryn and I posed this very question to our board: How can one look into the mirror and truly embrace their beauty?
Much to our surprise, Khaled stepped forward and offered two words: flexibility and joy.
But what does embracing flexibility and joy in our lives have to do with our perception and actualization of our beauty? Khaled explains this to us in depth and, as our board members often do, he uses a creative way to illustrate the meaning of his message.
I am including the entire transcript of this session so you can understand more fully the depth of perspective and delightfulness of the incredible communion we have with our board of spiritual guides. While there is much laughter and play here, ultimately, everything has a higher purpose.
[Khaled moves the planchette in very quick circular movements. He ‘scoots’ down to Eryn and then back to me.]
[We laugh at his playfulness. Khaled begins to move the planchette in a distinct rhythmic motion illustrated in this transcript as “^ ^ ^”. We enjoy following his rhythmic motions.]
Elena: What song are you singing?
Khaled: ‘I love it when we’re cruising’ together.’
[Eryn recognizes the Smoky Robinson song.]
Khaled: Groovy, no?
[Eryn and I are continuously amazed by Khaled’s sense of humor and connection to all things in our physical life. As we later discovered, these playful, ‘groovy’ movements were to further illustrate his message about ‘self-beauty.’]
Elena: Are we going to go out dancing tonight? You’re just wanting to dance Khaled!
Khaled: Aren’t you?!
Elena: I don’t know if I could keep up with you!
Eryn: [singing the words] ‘I love it when we’re groov’n together…’
Khaled: Indeed we do. [After a few more moves, Khaled continues…] No more monkey business—or shall we say—funky business?! In this we illustrate two points of beauty as we can so define it—flexibility and joy!
Elena: Wow. We wouldn’t immediately think that joy and flexibility have anything to do with beauty…can you draw a line between these two points?
Khaled: Of course, my goddess! Flexibility: a poor man’s articulation for the state of allowance and openness that is available to change, adapt, evolve—it is responsive, connected, and fluid. This is goddess energy, distinctly feminine energy and creative.
Eryn: So this is a way for one to truly embrace their beauty? To look at themselves in the mirror and see their own self beauty?
Khaled: Flexibility by its very nature is not rigid. It circumvents rigid conformity, it embraces lightness and humour. [As such, it] naturally circumvents judgment and self criticism.
Elena: Okay, I can see that.
Khaled: Joy: this is the embodiment of the light that is innate in all. It is the greeting and embrace of other and self with gratitude and acknowledgement. So bright is the joy within that living it obscures all innocuous detail and illuminates that which is true and sincere within and in others.
Eryn: So it’s when you’re embracing that, when you are able to live and embody this state of joy, you acknowledge beauty of self and in others.
Khaled: And what is this marriage of aspects?
Elena: Joy and flexibility? Umm…not sure.
Khaled: S ^^^ w ^^^ a ^^^ y. [He spells the word “sway” in this rhythmic movement] Yes. In one’s sway is the spoken and unspoken acknowledgment of one’s true embodied spirit, which is true beauty and self love.
Elena: That’s beautiful. Thank you Khaled.
Khaled: In this way, the sway that is your united joy and flexibility, you yourself are contented to sing—’‘I love it when we’re cruising together’—whether or not and regardless of the viewership of others.
[Eryn and I begin to sing …’I love it when we’re cruisn’ together!’]
Elena: We’ll have to download that song.
Khaled: And we can sway to it.
Elena: Yes, absolutely!
Khaled: At this time we leave you both with this…the profound, vast and unlimited potential to embrace yourselves in the stark truth of your beauty. A beauty that is unbound from limited man’s potent restrictions—as was earlier said—it is okay to be free. Your beauty is known in this place and is without, in defiance of, standards and limitations and definitions. In surrender [of] your referee, you connect to all that is—all that can ever be and ever was—surrender, dear ones, to the exquisite rarity of your soul and sing ‘I love it when we’re cruisin’ together!’
Y ^^^ o ^^^ u ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ a ^^^ r ^^^ e ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ l ^^^ o ^^^ v ^^^ e ^^^ d.
[He cruises off the board to the word ‘Goodbye.’]
Exploring The Feminine Energy
Take a moment to consider your flexibility. In what ways can you improve your flexibility and move through your life with more fluidity and lightness? How can you explore this feminine energy further?
As I embrace more flexibility in my life, I naturally move into a softer place, one that has less judgment of others and myself. It’s okay when my friends or family change plans. I adapt. It’s fine that my home isn’t in a perfect state at all times. Who really notices these things other than myself, so why do I drive myself crazy? And when work projects don’t go exactly the way I expect, I’m forced to be more creative in finding a solution. Yes, I become more creative, more fluid and lighter.
Embracing the Truth of Your Beauty
Now, take a moment to consider how you acknowledge yourself and others. Do you look beyond your ‘cocoon’ to see that you are so much more? How can you acknowledge the light within you more fully? How can you embrace more gratitude for all that you are?
The more I embody my joy—my light within—the less critical I become. I no longer focus on the details of what I perceived as my physical imperfections, for this is not my true reflection and these supposed ‘imperfections’ were defined as such by whom? The media? Man’s limited view?
As I acknowledge this truer aspect of me, I also begin to see others in this way and can more easily acknowledge their light. I find this becomes infectious. When acknowledging the inner beauty of others, it raises my perception of my own beauty.
It’s so rewarding to be free from the limited concepts of beauty that is espoused in our media. Yes, to defy these definitions and standards. Seeing my truest essence through the eyes of ‘spirit’—the ‘exquisite rarity of my soul,’ frees me and allows me to expand and grow. In this levity of heart, I find myself embracing the truth of my beauty and as I look at my reflection in the mirror—united with my joy and flexibility—I am now contented to sing to myself….‘I love it when we’re cruisin’ together!’