Vanity. A lot of emotion gets packed into that word. Even as a spiritual teacher, with my sights focused on energy healing and raising consciousness, I fret about my pants getting tighter. When I was in college, I was a size 2 model. In order to maintain that image of perfection, I lived on cigarettes and vodka. Food? No way.
Just yesterday I was having a one-on-one with a Level 7 student and I gently pointed out to her that her recently gained 25 lbs. that she was bemoaning might be “her new normal.” Who among us women over 40 hasn’t had to deal with a weight gain and a clothing size increase? While teaching a few weeks ago at Turks and Caicos, I asked the audience a rhetorical question: what are we going to do when we aren’t on an island and over-shirts aren’t in style?
So what does any of this have to do with being spiritually inclined? For one, you may think that if you’re trying to be more spiritual, you shouldn’t be concerned about what you look like. Not true. You need to care about the image you are presenting to the world. You want to make a good impression— at a business meeting, at the ashram, at the family reunion. You want to be desired, to be liked. (Unfortunately, you also want to have your chocolate ice cream, your lattes, and your pizza.)
Spiritual discipline is based on renunciation—you give up some portion of your ego (where I-me-mine is the center of the universe at all times) for the realization of unity consciousness. You concentrate on being mindful, being here now, instead of finding new ways to escape your reality. You start to recognize the ways in which your chakras and personal energy field are impacted by your thoughts and feelings instead of thinking every problem in your life is due to external circumstances.
So why is it so hard to give up vanity about the way you look? I think of it as “vanity sizing” in the mind. The manufacturers of the cultural obsession with physical appearance have made you feel that you have to be as thin as all those photo shopped models in magazines and actors on the screen. Yet everything in your life conspires against you being able to reach that goal. And the older your body gets, the harder it all is. Plus, what good is an hour in the gym when it’s followed by a quick stop at Starbucks? How can you even get to the gym when you work all day and pick up pizza on the way home because you have no time to cook a decent dinner for your family before you deal with your kid’s science project? Or you’re stressed out over paying your bills, or your health, or your lack of a love life, or the fact your pants are too tight—which certainly deserves another chocolate chip cookie.
When you find yourself caught up in this type of thinking—the size 16 reality of your day-to-day life versus the size 4 fantasy ideal your vanity would like you to achieve—what should you do?
Call upon your Higher Self.
Your Higher Self is who you really are. She encompasses all the virtues that stem from higher consciousness. She knows your higher purpose in life—the reason you incarnated in your particular body, with all its seeming faults. She’s the one who is with you lifetime after lifetime. So relax. Be who you are. Sit quietly and pull down the bright white/gold light from above your head (your Higher Self is really quite lovely) into that fabulous body of yours. It’s fabulous because it is the vehicle for getting to know your own divinity.
With the way things are going these days—with toxic chemicals turning rivers orange, with icecaps melting and oceans rising, with fierce typhoons, fires, and floods, with fracking causing earthquakes, with oil spills destroying habitats—maybe we all need to pay more attention to Mother Earth’s body than to our own.
Until then, buy pants in the next size up!