by Dev Suroop Kaur:“An attitude of gratitude brings great things.” — Yogi Bhajan
I have been pondering the concept of Radiant Beauty. What is it really? According to the dictionary, to ‘radiate’ is to ‘send forth or release’ and ‘beauty’ is the ‘quality present in a thing or person that gives pleasure or satisfaction to the mind.’ It would follow that radiant beauty is the presence of a satisfying quality that shines forth from a person or thing—the true, shining essence of something coming through.
Certainly, in our world culture, we do all sorts of things to manufacture beauty from the outside. There are countless cosmetics and potions and treatments and surgeries widely promoted to create beauty. We’re subtly and overtly bombarded with a strong cultural pressure to ‘get with the program’ and emulate that socially agreed upon concept of beauty. The end result is the nagging voice that we’re not okay unless we look a certain, prescribed way. This from-the-outside view of beauty is clearly missing the mark.
In mid-February, I had the privilege of teaching at a Level 1 Teacher Training course at PranaShanti Yoga Centre in Ottawa. During that weekend, as we were discussing yogic concepts, practicing kriyas and meditations, and working in small groups, I looked out and could see the truly radiant beauty of all those teachers in training in the room. Each person’s unique light, peace and radiance grew over the weekend.
I could see that radiant beauty also had much to do with their intention—their ‘showing up’ to nurture the best of themselves and the joy and relaxation that came from that pure intention. In those ‘high hum’ moments of spiritual practice, it is clear that beauty doesn’t have to do with age or gender or outside appearance. It has to do with a bright shining aura, a polished radiant body, and the soul light shining forth—beauty from the inside.
Eventually my ponderings led me to the concept of gratitude. Yogi Bhajan often repeated that one of the keys to a successful life is to maintain an attitude of gratitude. It’s easy to think you’re doing it, that you’re living in a thankful state. But it wasn’t until I started a gratitude meditation practice that I began to understand it in a new way. In this meditation, each day I account for 10 things for which I am grateful. This is an intriguingly subtle practice. No matter how I feel, I find I can always come up with at least 10 honest statements of gratitude. And what happens, over time, is that no matter what’s going on and what I think I can get negative about, this practice forces me to rejoice in the good things in my life.
Ultimately, this journey of reflection on radiant beauty came to a point of crystal clear clarity when I came upon a marvelous 1-minute video of 109-year-old Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer. When I watched this simple interview of this beautifully optimistic and happy woman, I immediately thought ‘That’s it! It is so uncomplicated and pure!’
When asked by the interviewer, “What is your secret for feeling so good at your age?” Ms. Herz-Sommer replied, “Optimism, and looking for the good. Life is beautiful. To be happy. To admire. To thank. Thankful that we are living. Wherever you look is beauty.” The interviewer continued: “And you see beauty everywhere?” to which Ms. Herz-Sommer replied, “Everywhere. I know about the bad things, but I look to the good things.” This is the essence of radiant beauty embodied in a radiant, beautiful, profoundly grateful 109 year-old woman.
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”