Beauty is inherently spiritual, although that certainly isn’t what is being reflected in the imagery of beauty being sold to us. The beauty we see in our culture today exists on the lowest rung of Diotima’s ladder and has undertones (not to mention overtones) of pornography, violence, sexism, and misogyny. People have been railing against how women are being portrayed in the media and in advertising for years yet, still, nothing has changed. In fact, according to Jean Kilbourne, gender expert for women’s rights who has been at the forefront of this dialogue for forty years, nothing has changed. In fact, she has said that it has actually gotten worse.
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We’ve all heard the maxim “As above, so below,” but what does it really mean? I believe that when we boil it down, it means this: There is the entire universe outside of us and there is an entire universe within us. Today, we are hyperfocused on the external universe we explore it, study it, categorize it, dissect it, analyze it, innovate it, design it, interrelate in it, theorize about it, contemplate it, love it, disrespect it, are in awe of it, and so on and so on, ad infinitum. But what about the inner universe? This is the new frontier. The fact that yoga and meditation have infiltrated the Western mind is a happy sign that we are ready to explore this new frontier.
Our recent discoveries about the plasticity and neurodiversity of the brain, the explosion of interest in neuroscience, and our increased comfort level with exploring virtual worlds through our smartphones and tablets (metaphorically “leaving” one reality to explore another) are all telltale signs that we are poised and ready to take this deep dive into the vast universe of the self. We’re ready to focus on designing our interior life just as we design our exterior life.
If we pay closer attention to the design of our inner life to our thoughts and emotions, to feeding our soul, and taking care of our body so that it can operate optimally then we may be able to align our internal and external realities to be matched, complete, and whole. Our mind, body, and soul do not operate separately; they operate as a whole. What affects one part has an effect on the other parts, for better or for worse. How we orient ourself internally is what will be reflected back to us externally. The world is like a mirror reflecting what is going on internally. If you are seeing things in that mirror that do not feel right, that means there is work to be done by you.
We will use these rituals to help us to get the work done. When we are busy and distracted all of
the time, it’s because we don’t want to do the work, because we are avoiding the real work. This is where we come back to that idea of having the courage to slow down so that we are able to create a true reflection of beauty. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know all of this knowledge is within you. You have just been buried in biases and distractions and procrastinations and a lack of self-trust. This busyness is a compulsion; it is a fear of facing the unknown authentic self because the home has been neglected for so long that there is an emptiness, a horror vacui that is difficult to wrestle with and to come to terms with. There really is no other way but to face that emptiness and wrestle with it.
Rituals help us wake up and breathe life into the dusty, forgotten, overlooked, neglected areas of our internal self. They shed light through our dusty windows, and bring warmth to the interior rooms. They help us to remember our knowledge, our wisdom, our beauty. Rituals are remembering in motion. The only catch? Remembering isn’t always easy. As you wake up, you will come to understand the abuses, the compromises, and the passive-aggressive relationship you have been having with yourself. It will hurt you, and as your old self dies, you will experience grief. Let it come, don’t fight it. Use the rituals to help you through it. The rituals are designed to help you become radically compassionate with yourself so you will become radically compassionate with others. Once you make this renewed commitment to truly love and respect yourself, there is no turning back.