A full season of sundresses is on it’s way and summer beauty prep is all that women’s magazines are talking about this time of year, right? We’re taking a deeper look at beauty and self-care with Shel Pink, “lifestyle futurist” and founder of natural spa brand, Sparitual. Shel promotes the idea of “slow beauty” that has as much to do with the mind, emotions and inner health as it does glowing skin and a strong physique.
From meditating to earthing, here are three simple rituals you can work into your current self-care routines this summer to get glowing beautifully, inside and out…
“There is a deep beauty within each person. Modern culture is obsessed with cosmetic perfection. Beauty is standardized; it has become another product for sale. In its real sense, beauty is the illumination of your soul.”
— John O’Donohue
This summer, challenge the advertising and marketing that communicates how we should feel about our bodies. As the weather warms up and it’s time to peel off the layers and don a bathing suit, step out of your winter cocoon with robust self-confidence and self-love. Adopt a new philosophy of beauty; one that is slow and enlightened. Here is what “slow beauty” means to me and a few slow beauty rituals to help you unearth your deep, inner beauty…
What is slow beauty? The philosophy of slow beauty is simultaneously simple and deep. The main guiding principle of the slow beauty philosophy is sustainable self-care. When we care for ourselves in meaningful ways, we are best able to care for others and the world. To develop a slow beauty practice, elevate your beauty routine into intentional, beautiful beauty rituals.
Step into your natural rhythm. Seasonal transitions are natures’ rituals in action. Nature is intentional as it moves from season to season, celebrating the natural rhythms of the cycles of life. As we transition from bountiful, refreshing, breezy spring into the warmth and luminosity of summer, it is time to prep our mind, body and spirit for this change.
When summer arrives, so does the pressure for our bodies to be in the best condition – messaging surrounding how to prep our bodies for summer is heightened, and so are our attitudes of self-image.
What if this summer we shifted our thinking around body awareness to include practices of health, wellness and compassion? Instead of striving for perfectionism, and being micro-critical of various body parts, we free ourselves to become our most healthy, beautiful self through intentional slow beauty rituals that make us whole.
Below are some ideas on how to harness the gifts of the light and freedom summer brings to us. We are what we practice. So this summer, let’s incorporate slow beauty practices for a positive body image!
slow Beauty ritual one: Choose a mantra
“You are beautiful, just the way you are.”
— Bruno Mars
What it is: A mantra is an intentional word, sound or phrase to aid concentration in a mindfulness practice like meditation (learn more about it here). It is something that resonates profoundly with the “user” of the mantra. Traditionally, teachers have assigned mantras to their students. A teacher gives their students a mantra they feel will aid them in their spiritual growth. A mantra is a tool that helps you to design an inner life that is most aligned with your personal values and authentic self. There are lifelong mantras, and there are also shorter-term mantras to accompany you through specific phases in your life.
Why do it: There are many ways to receive and use a mantra. I practice a form of meditation called transcendental meditation. As part of the learning, the student is given a mantra in the form of a sound. It is repeated aloud by the teacher and then the student one time. Then the mantra is repeated silently during the 20 minutes, twice daily, when the student practices the meditation. The mantra is never to be shared. In this style of meditation, a mantra is used as a focal point when thoughts arise. When I notice a thought, I simply let it go, and return once again to my mantra. The mantra is an aid that helps you to deeply relax your mind, body and spirit. It is a tool to help detoxify the mind, body and spirit from negative, and unsupportive thinking and behavior.
How To Do it: No need to leave your loved ones or your worldly possessions behind in search of the guru to gift you a mantra. You are the guru. The first step to create your very own summer mantra is to slow down to engage the highest form of knowledge, your intuition. We are the questions and the answers.
If you don’t have a meditation or mindfulness practice yet, here are a few tips on how to slow down, gain clarity of mind and design a mantra to accompany you this summer that will help you achieve a positive body image. The point of the exercise is to bring your self into a state of calm to create space for expansive thoughts to arise. When you do this exercise, look out for a word or a phrase, or a sound to arise that resonates with you – meaning, it feels good when you think it. That will be your mantra. Read through all of the steps first so you know what to expect and you can prepare your self. I know it seems counter intuitive to create thoughts during a meditation but there are many different types of meditation. Thoughts come and go. We mostly want to let them come and go, without judging the thought as good or bad. For this exercise we are seeking a feeling that we can trigger through a word or phrase that arises within to harness self-love and the benefits of the summer months. Once you’ve designed your mantra you will want to keep it to yourself, and profess it internally, when you need its good vibrations. Here are the steps to help you unearth your very own mantra:
Find a quiet, and comfortable place to sit – somewhere you will not be interrupted for at least 15 minutes. Place your feet on the ground and your hands on your lap. Nothing should be crossed. Close your eyes. Begin your slow beauty breathing exercise. This requires six deep inhales and exhales. For the first three breathing rounds, breath in calm, and then breathe out stress. For the last three breathing rounds breathe in calm and breathe out calm. In your mind’s eye, think of the positive image you’d like to set around your summer body and beauty image. Continue breathing and let the thoughts arise. Let them come and go. The timing on this is up to you. I suggest 10 minutes, or for as long as it feels comfortable for you. Write down the thoughts that arose and craft a summer beauty mantra that supports a loving self-image. It could be one word, a series of words, a phrase, or even a sound.
When to use it: This is your mantra. It came from you. Use it anytime, anywhere you please. You may want to connect with it first thing in the morning, or find a quiet time to sit with it and check in with yourself during the day. Should negative thinking arise about your body image, that is the perfect time to use the mantra to shift your thinking to a more positive state. Whatever feels most comfortable and natural to you is the exact way for you to use it. If you already have a meditation practice then think of using this summer mantra as a booster mantra to complement your practice.
SLOW BEAUTY RITUAL two: Get grounded with EARTHING
“The more high tech we become, the more nature we need.”
— Richard Louv
What it is: Earthing is a term coined by Clint Ober in the 1960s. It means connecting to nature by grounding yourself in it. Many of us are suffering from what author Richard Louv identified as nature deficit disorder, and we don’t even know it. The culprit is our addiction to technology and the fast-paced lives we live. The Earth offers us the benefits of well being. When we ground to the Earth, our stress levels are reduced, and we experience more energy and a sense of renewal. This isn’t a revelation, it’s just something we need to remember and practice. Earthing is a transfer of energy from the ground into the body.
Why do it: When we immerse ourselves in nature we experience a three-dimensional world that heightens all of our senses. Nature is alive. It is real. In contrast, technology is two-dimensional. Although it is incredibly useful and provides us many conveniences, technology is a manufactured experience. Earthing helps us to connect with nature, to counterbalance our over-dependency on technology. We need to learn how to strike a balance between nature and technology for our health. Earthing is an aspect of self-care, and a slow beauty ritual we can put into practice. The Earth is a powerful source of energy. The Earth’s natural electricity has a balancing effect on our organs, tissues and cells, as well as many other benefits – like reducing chronic pain and promoting a good night’s sleep. The bottom line: Earthing makes us feel good. And when we feel good, we look good!
How to do it: It’s so simple! Summer is the perfect time for earthing. The best surfaces for earthing include grass, soil, sand, unsealed tiles or stones, or concrete. Remove your shoes, and walk barefoot on any one of those surfaces. For maximum results, spend 30 minutes earthing each day. If that isn’t possible, then get back to nature whenever you can. To go further with it, be more intentional while you are in nature. “Stop and smell the roses,” is not a cliché, it is a mindful way to experience nature. Listen to nature. It is always singing a tune. Nature is the most talented artist – look around. And while you are at it, taste nature and eat a fresh piece of fruit or vegetable.
SLOW BEAUTY RITUAL three: Practice ‘First Light’
What it is: Each of us has an internal master clock called a circadian clock. Working in 24-hour cycles, it regulates physiological processes in the body and signals us when it is time to sleep. This body clock responds to environmental cues like light, darkness and temperature. It is located in a region of our brain and is made up of two clusters of thousands of nerve cells. Exposure to natural light first thing in the morning helps reset our body clock helping the processes of our natural internal rhythm to work optimally.
Why do it: Light in the morning helps us to wake up. It gives us more energy than a cup of coffee, and it helps to jump start the production of melatonin to help us with a good night’s sleep later in the evening. Adequate amounts of light affect our sleeping patterns, productivity, alertness, and mood. It also improves our metabolic function.
How to do it: Go outside first thing in the morning and look at the natural light. In the evening it is just as important to dim the lights inside at least one hour before bedtime. This signals us to go to sleep and have a good night’s rest. Solar noon is also an optimum time to get some light exposure. So let the light in. Let the light shine on you. Ideally we want to spend a combined amount of at least one hour outdoors.