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Beauty as an Imperative

What comes to your mind with the word beauty? Perhaps a celebrity who is particularly attractive. Or a pristine sunset on turquoise waters. Maybe a piece of art hanging in your house or that one piece of music that haunts you. Clearly there is a wide range of definitions for the concept of beauty. We have all heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a statement of the subjective nature of beauty and yet there is a formula for beauty held within the golden ratio: a mathematical principle based on the Fibonacci sequence that underlies proportions that are aesthetically pleasing and growth patterns in nature that are abundant and sustainable.


Fibonacci spiral found naturally in a shell


Beauty thus, is more than just something that looks pretty. This is important; beauty is more than vanity. Beauty is connective, linking experience, symbolism and meaning. Beauty is mindful, a call to being present in the moment. Beauty is transformative, a surrender to more than the self. Beauty is a dialectic, an opening simultaneously to both ephemera and timelessness. Beauty is resonance with the deepest aspects of our psyches, touching on that which moves us beyond reason. Sounds a lot like a definition of spirituality doesn't it?


David Whyte writes:

"Beauty is the harvest of presence, the evanescent moment of seeing or hearing on the outside what already lives far inside us; the eyes, the ears or the imagination suddenly become a bridge between the here and the there, between then and now, between the inside and the outside; beauty is the conversation between what we think is happening outside in the world and what is just about to occur far inside."


In my house, there is a moment on sunny mornings when the angle of light is just perfect to pass through the crystals in the light fixture above my table. For a few minutes the house is filled with rainbows, swimming in schools of radiance on the shoals of my ceiling, illuminating dazzling pillars of colour on the walls, transforming for an instant, my mundane living space into a temple of light. It is as fleeting as it is splendid leaving me awe-struck and changed for having engaged with it. It is a moment of both humility and expansiveness that I can only describe as peace.


Appreciation of beauty and engagement with wonder cultivate a sense of connection to the world around, as well as gratitude which are both known to positively impact mood and wellbeing. Dostoevsky wrote "beauty will save the world", a sentiment of the changes that beauty can make to ourselves and the world around us.


How are you engaging with beauty? What touches you? How do you honour those pieces of yourself? How can we courageously step into the vulnerability of beauty and bring forth it's transformations?


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