Friday, March 13, 2015

Beauty is as Beauty Does

We’ve been talking about qualities of Lakshmi, and second only to abundance, the quality she is most known for is beauty, and her beauty has “an unmistakable set of qualities.  It is sweet, ripe, symmetrical and pleasing…cultivated, nourished and polished.” (Awakening Shakti, Sally Kempton). Think Kate Middleton rather than Sophia Vergara.

We often think of beauty as external because it is experienced through the senses.  But the beauty that Lakshmi represents is a quality that arises from a state of being, the physical representation is just a “result”.  For example a beautiful flower is the result of all the forces of nature coming aligning to make it so.  When everything doesn’t come together in this exact particular way there is less fullness and radiance, and the flower is small, droopy, maybe brown around the edges. It is the same with people - we have all met people that aren’t striking physically yet exude a radiant brilliance because of who they are.   And vice versa.

In Awakening Shakti Sally Kempton writes “Lakshmi’s gift are enhanced through a certain effort and craft.” In our case, when we practice yoga with mindfulness and good alignment we invoke Lakshmi. Last week we talked about sufficiency, and beauty is one of the “effects” of feeling your own innate “enough-ness”.  When you have the inner experience of abundance and beauty you know Lakshmi is with you, expressing herself as you.

I love that line from the movie Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.” – it’s so true, as proven by teenagers throughout time (just kidding!). You can really replace pretty much any quality instead of “stupid”, and for this week’s practice I changed it to “Beauty is as beauty does”.  In an alignment based yoga practice, action is more important than form.  What we do is so much more important than how we look.  Beauty is expressed by the heart's desire to connect with our deepest essence, and when that connection is made, to radiate the light that we connect to from the core of our being and express it with every action, whether it’s a yoga pose or a corporate speech, baking a cake or paving a road.  It can be brought to every single thing we do.  

I shared a story in class this week of being in class with a wonderful teacher a few years back.  He was demonstrating Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, which he taught and showed masterfully.  When he sent us off to do the pose, a woman in the front of the class was practicing a much deeper form of the pose, which was also very beautiful.  The teacher pointed to her and called out across the room “I want you all to know that that is what I feel like in this pose.”  We all laughed, but it was such a beautiful lesson of this concept.  We work towards the pose, we do the best we can possibly do in that moment and then we just let it shine – we don’t let it be diminished by whatever else might be going on around us.  That is real beauty. 

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Beauty "happens" when you are most authentically yourself, when you are expressing without reservation who you really are, bringing forth the unique qualities that make you inherently, beautifully you.  When you cultivate a beautiful practice, whether it’s on the mat or the way you interact with people, or even do your job with the highest artistry, you connect with all the pleasing and graceful qualities of Lakshmi and bring her charm and brilliancy to everything you do.   

May we all let the inherent beauty inside ourselves reveal itself with every act, with every breath, in all we do.