The Beauty Way

Let the Beauty We Love

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
— A Year with Rumi, Harper Collins (2006)

In the current state of affairs, it is all too easy to wake up empty and frightened. To wake up this way is often also an experience of people experiencing mental illness. The past four years I have lived and breathed social work, learning in school about mental health and social justice. The learnings have made me even more aware of the issues facing humanity, while creating a certain kind of rigid mind set needed to manage the academic work in order to attain a degree. I’ve also stayed up nights and woke up mornings reading one troubling news story after another. This combination has caused anxiety, and at time bouts of depression, making it difficult to, as Rumi says, take down a musical instrument. Taking down a musical instrument is a metaphor, which invites us to seek the beauty, even in the struggle. Continuing this article, I will share two experiences where I lived Rumi’s words. The article will conclude with suggestions of how you, the reader, can find your beauty in the struggle. So come along toward the Beauty Way...

 Photo: Alex Kohnstamm // Fashion: Meghanlee Phillips // Makeup: Casey Pearson // Model: Leah Schwelling //  The Volk  Fall 2017

Photo: Alex Kohnstamm // Fashion: Meghanlee Phillips // Makeup: Casey Pearson // Model: Leah Schwelling // The Volk Fall 2017

3/8/18: Today, my musical instrument is a sunny spot on my carpet. Laying down, sun upon my face, soothing music playing, I experience a familiar presence.  This presence is the space inside of me that is aware and calm. It is the opposite of tightness and control where I am pulled by the demands of my life and the pressures of this world. Here, I experience stillness and I am reminded of who I really am. Today, this space called to me. I heard the call, stopped the busyness, aligned my face with the sun and found beauty.
 
3/9/18: Today, my musical instrument is a song from a spring bird. It wakes me from sleep. Listening to its song I have no desire to go back to sleep. Its song awakens me to my recent transformation. I reflect on the changes I have made: the way I communicate is less reactive and more curious. I engage and interact more with others, surprising the part of me that is used to hiding and isolating. There are more changes, but these are enough to show me transformation continues to occur. The changes activate naturally, which tells me they are the result of deep, often difficult work. This morning I heard a bird sing. It said: it is spring. You have endured another dark winter. Acknowledge the work you have done. Experience who you have become. Let your new transformed self emerge and bring you to a new dawn. Don’t go back to sleep.

These two moments occurred as nudges from something deep inside. Because I listened to their calls, I caught remindful glimpses of what is always present beneath the surface of life’s everyday struggles. As I said earlier, it is easy to get caught in the struggle. It is fed to us daily, from the outside and the inside. I believe it is important to be aware of the struggle and I also believe it is important to allow ourselves to move deeper in to the beauty and the wisdom beneath it. To move into this beauty way is not about resisting what we often define as negative thinking or negative emotions and instead thinking and feeling positive. It is about slowing down and creating space because in the space we do not have to force or resist anything. In the space we do find beauty.  

 
DitsyDaisy-2.jpg

Different ways we can slow down and create space:

  • Take a mindful walk: engage the senses by noticing what is around you, by feeling the wind or the sun on your face, by hearing the birds sing or the noise from your feet hitting the ground.
     
  • Journal writing: take a few minutes at the end of your day to reflect. What experiences did you have? What was difficult? What felt good? Did you learn anything? If so, what? In the busyness of our days, we often miss the lessons and subtle nudges urging us to move deeper within ourselves. Journal writing is a wonderful way to access your deeper experiences.
     
  • Download any number of applications that offer guided meditations and do them. Many allow you to choose how long. Even one minute of closing your eyes and taking deep breaths can restore calm to your nervous system.
     
  • When watching the news, as Mr. Roger’s mom told him: look for the helpers. Recently, during another shooting, James Shaw Jr. put his life on the line and wrestled with the shooter and took his gun. There are those who create horror and those who help ease the horror. Both are always present.
  • Seek your musical instrument, daily if possible. As Rumi said, there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. Poetry, gardening, drawing, music, hiking— just to name a few. Let the beauty you love be what you do


IMG_5535.JPG

I would love to hear from you— what questions about mental health or issues would you like to discuss? Let’s make this an ongoing conversation! 

Nikki DiVirgilio is a recent graduate from graduate school majoring in Social Work.  She writes about self-care and personal discovery on her blog:  https://thesoulreporter.wordpress.com. She can be contacted through her blog at: https://thesoulreporter.wordpress.com/contact/