Well this isn’t quite the musing I intended to open the Happy Soul Blog with, but sometimes you just need to throw the plan in the recycling bin (throwing out the window would be littering guys and so 1998), and say what’s on your mind or, more importantly, in your heart.
Plus, it seems fitting, that in a week when we look to Patanjali’s first Niyama - Sauca or Purification - for inspiration, I should share my own struggles with purifying my mind.
Like all good stories, my tale starts on a beach in India.
Cue chiming music and hazy waves
Having spent the previous month discovering everything I could live without (more on this in future blogs - which would have come before this blog, if logic had won the fight instead of that pesky passion), I decided to continue this purification upon my return to London. Now, whilst this list wasn’t long, it did include some things that had previously felt vital to my lifestyle e.g. coffee, late nights, lists (don’t even!), alcohol, Netflix, social media, animal products and make-up. I mean, just imagine….
Anyway, it is the last offender on the list I wish to discuss here.
I’ve never worn much make-up, just enough to disguise those tired eyes and hide the blemishes. However, with my new mindset, I now felt that as my body was taking the time to show me it wasn’t happy – it was literally staring me in the face – it was only fair that I pay it some attention. I decided that instead of concealing the issues, I should be purifying my body by cutting it off at source.
So off I went earnestly (with a make-up free face), trying to get more sleep and alter my diet in the hope the results of this effort would manifest on my face.
Whilst this started well enough, as the weeks past and the tan faded, I was finding it hard to accept my reflection and even harder to take it out in public.
I felt exposed, I felt vulnerable and, worst of all, I felt like a fraud. Here I was ‘claiming’ to be a health professional, someone people could look to for motivation and guidance, all the while my face was covered in spots and dark circles. This thought pattern really started to affect my mood, instead of my usual open, smiling demeanour, I started to feel withdrawn and anxious – to the point when a friend actually referred to me as looking ‘frazzled’. Erm, no actually that wasn’t the look I was going for.
And then one day, whilst out on a run, the revelation came…
A wise person once told me running was fine, as long as I was doing it in order to change my energy, rather than as a form of escape (man, that Guru really started to get on my nerves, first no bullet journals, now no running, why not just take away all the methods of controlling my chaos). And for the first time, I really felt what he had meant. I had started that run to get away from my thoughts, to escape myself. But whilst running, I managed to shed the fog that had been clouding my vision; I could now see things clearly.
All this time I had been focusing so much on purifying my body, I was neglecting the far more important responsibility of purifying my mind.
Despite spending my days cultivating my kindness towards others, I had completely neglected to be kind to myself. No wonder I had started to feel down, when the person I spent all my time with was telling me I was a failure. If I was a fraud for any reason, it was by feigning to be a Happy Soul on the outside, while judging myself for my physical appearance on the inside.
However now with clarity in my mind and kindness in my soul, I could see that, whilst my lifestyle obviously does contribute to my skin, no amount of sleep would undo my hereditary dark circles, and no amount of food journaling would cure me of adult acne.
However, a great big smile would make me happy.
And even if my appearance is the result of my lifestyle, that’s ok too…
“We are the result of every decision we ever make,
The sum total of every experience we ever have,
The echoes of every person we ever love,
And it is precisely this combination of a thousand things, that makes us so uniquely, us”.
This little test has been a fantastic reminder for me to remove my ‘mask’ and celebrate exactly who I am, spots and all. Besides, who are these people I believe would judge me so harshly for having a spot on my cheek?! As Dr Seuss said, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."