While Mindfulness at work may be the up-to-the-minute HR trend in businesses today, its a practice that the spa industry pioneered decades ago. I was first introduced to meditation about 20 years ago, about a year in to my role as the Assistant Spa Director at a popular east coast destination spa. The program was free for our guests and would be led by the existing spa staff. The entire staff was invited to sign up for the training to become a meditation facilitator. At that point in my life, the extent of my meditation practice was savasana. I was a curious novice, excited to dive in and learn as a part of my job training. I enlisted in the 6-week training program which consisted of the science of meditation, techniques on quieting the mind and of course, meditation itself.
Since then, my practice has ebbed and flowed. Like many busy people, it can be a challenge to find quiet time for a regular meditation practice. While I would love to sit at the same time every day, the reality is that each day presents new demands on my time and there are only so many quiet hours in my day. Sound familiar?
In spite of my waxing and waning practice over the years, I have discovered meditation to be one of the most available tools for me to use less and love more. It’s instant access to the phenomenon of experiencing more love through using less, of myself. It is the most successful technique I’ve found to quiet my inner critic, slowing down my thoughts, noticing them and letting them go – repeatedly. These brief moments, in between my relentless, often critical thoughts, are the space where love begins to rise. Love for myself and others. Compassion for myself and others. And just a little quiet relief. And because I know that our outer expression is a reflection of our inner world, I know that this constant act of surrender and return to love softened and relaxed me on the outside, too.
Over the years I’ve learned how meditation and mindfulness practices can be integrated into different facets of my life and my work. One of my favorite ways, no surprise here, is to incorporate meditation into my self-care and beauty rituals. Here are some of the ways I’ve seen meditation intersect with beauty:
- As we know, free radicals cause cells to age faster, so in skincare we focus a lot on delivering antioxidants to our bodies and on our skin. However, stress is the greatest cause of free radicals in the body. Taking time to meditate helps to regulate stress and cortisol secretion and slow free radical production and premature aging. And, as Tanja Gruber, Co-Founder of max and me pointed out, our cells are more receptive to what we deliver to them when they are not in a state of stress. I think we can consider meditation as our most powerful antioxidant for healthy skin.
- I think that so much of our beauty comes from our self-acceptance. I just turned 43 this week and each year I face the fact that I am aging. Meditation brings me into the present moment and the result is that I can always find something to be grateful for, no matter how messy and complicated my life is in the moment. I find that in addition to helping me age well, it has also helped me be present with my skin, body and beauty and appreciate where it is right now.
- These days applying makeup has become a meditation. Let me explain. Last year I took Rebecca Casciano’s Sacred Beauty Salon Series online course and was taught to set time aside, intentionally, to apply my makeup – as opposed to swiping it on as quickly as I can while rushing to start my day. It was a game changer and I couldn’t believe I had spent my whole life rushing through something that could be so enjoyable. Now, not only do I set time aside intentionally to apply makeup – but it has become a sacred time for me to experiment, be present and intentional with color and application. And while I’m not sure if my makeup looks any better (I imagine it does), I sure feel great after my makeup meditation as I begin my day with more confidence and intention.
- As I don’t always make the time for a daily sitting meditation practice, taking 2-3 minutes to cleanse my skin or massage in a body oil into my skin has become a moment of peace. During these brief moments, I focus on letting go of all thoughts, clearing my mind to give it a brief respite from all the activity. I look forward to these moments and as I enjoy them more I find that not only am I taking care of my skin and body, but I am caring for my whole self. I believe that outer beauty reflects what’s inside and that the purpose of self-care is so that we can tend to our inner selves so that we can be our best, most beautiful outer self.
I am not sure how my life would be different had I not been asked to lead meditation sessions at my first job in the spa industry. It is just one of the many amazing gifts that my career delivered, graciously, to me.