Spirit Leaves: Authentic Beauty

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There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet…

— T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Raised in the old energies, I worked to perfect my persona, my mask, my false self. I was like Eliot’s iconic mock-hero, J. Alfred: articulate and dressed for the part, while inside I feared I might drown at the first hint of real human love. I honed that self-image. Not surprisingly, I excelled in theatre, a genius and chameleon at taking on fictional roles. Eventually, I would shift with the new energies, a consciousness that only harmonizes with truth and authenticity.

We enter this human condition as a Divine candle, a mere spark within a vast consciousness of love and light. Reasoning that we are “on our own,” we become dense and fearful, looking outside ourselves for support. Media exploits this fear, creating icons and fashioning ordinary humans into demi-gods, hoping we will worship them and wish to become like them. Our culture has become superficial, placing a high premium upon appearances. We waste a lot of energy trying to fit in, to become like the models touted in ads and videos. Despite our efforts, we come to realize we will never be pretty enough, thin enough, or stylish enough. What we are slow to learn in our hearts, and what many aphorisms affirm, is that real beauty radiates from within.

So, how then do we cultivate the lotus in the mud? First, we must see that lotus through eyes of compassion. Its pink-and-white petals are so tender and beautiful that its initial instinct is to hide in the dark. When it first emerges into the light, all the world laughs, because it is an awkward stalk, dripping in mud. Curling back on itself, it nevertheless persists. Tears of rain wash the muck from its edges. Then one day, in the sparkling sun, it unfolds dew-encrusted petals amid bright green algae-carpeted waters. It opens its heart to the light, and everyone admires and is uplifted by its symmetry and quiet beauty.

That is an apt and ancient metaphor for the soul. Inside us is beauty, love and light; but when we first express that in the world, we may feel rejected by events and relationships that eclipse our light. We may dwell in the dark out of dejection, covering the true self in layers of protection. We may choose to project outwardly a tough, I-can-take-it exterior. That false hubris worked, at least, in the old energies.

What is attractive now is authenticity. Very recently, Cedric remarked to me that the key to living genuinely is to love yourself. It’s easy to think of loving and accepting our friends unconditionally, so why can’t we give ourselves the same loving consideration? Even if we embrace that notion intellectually, how do we arrive there emotionally?

The key is to resolve to be true to yourself in everyday situations. Instead of reacting to events routinely, take a moment to breathe, relax and be genuine. At first, it may feel a little like holding your breath, closing your eyes, and jumping off a cliff. After making this jump a few times, you will experience the rush of endorphins that flows from being congruent with your true nature; and that is a better and stronger reinforcer than the questionable rewards of social approval.

Self-love is not an abstract concept: it is a feeling, a state of being. It takes time and care to cultivate. Spending time alone will help you focus and reflect upon your own path. There is plenty of wasted time in a day that could readily be converted to quiet “rediscovering me” time. We learn that the journey is inward, where it has always been; and indeed, there will be time to prepare a face that reflects authenticity, in harmony with the new consciousness that is evolving on Earth.

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Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.

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