As you move through the recipes in this chapter, I encourage you to keep in mind the idea of shalom bayit. This is a Jewish concept that means “peace in the home” or “peace between husband and wife.” I love this concept as a metaphor for the relationship of a fully integrated self. Since our body is the home in which we reside, it is through the body that we can cultivate a self that is whole and in balance. To attain this peaceful home for ourself, we must have the courage to slow down and reflect on what is working for us and what is not. From there, the rest is simple. Keep doing what works, identify what isn’t, and do the work to remove the barriers to your expansion.
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I’ve categorized the recipes in this section by season, but with one little twist: I’m asking you to think of seasons as a state of being, feeling, and thinking, rather than as a time of the year. Remember, Slow Beauty has everything to do with tapping into your own internal rhythms, and these may or may not correspond with the time of year the calendar shows us. These internal seasons will relate to the qualities of the external seasons to which we are accustomed. We have our unique cycles, and phases of life. Sometimes, we are in a winterlike season of melancholy; other times, we are in a season of extreme expressiveness, like spring. To honor ourself, it is so important that we identify the season we are in and abide by it.
If this all sounds a bit esoteric, don’t fret! This chapter will help you identify the qualities each season expresses, so that you can easily tap into and harness it when appropriate. Living in this intentional and connected way helps us to internalize the cycles of life and our place in it at any given moment. In doing this, we begin to understand that change is inevitable, important, and necessary for continual growth to occur. It also reminds us that phases are temporal and temporary, which opens us up to a healthier, more open-minded “this too shall pass” mentality. It frees us from being stuck or sticky. We can stop grasping onto emotions, attempting to cling to them so that they stick around. After all, what comes up must come down, and what is down always has the ability to go up again. It is gravitational law.
These seasonal attributes are inspired by the practice of Chinese medicine, which focuses on elements, and the Indian practice of Ayurveda, which focuses on our individual body constitution. Both are seasonal-based practices of well-being and address the balances and imbalances each season contains, as well as the qualities and essence of each season. Tuning into these cycles helps us awaken to our own natural rhythms. Like the seasons, our natural rhythms also have unique qualities, attributes, essences, and tendencies that, when understood and synchronized, help us to maintain a healthy mind, body, and spirit.
Identifying and understanding the patterns of your internal seasons will help you deepen your Slow Beauty practice, be more accepting of yourself, and will connect you with your inner rhythm. For each season, we will concentrate on two main qualities:
Goal: helps us identify what exactly we’re aiming for during this season
Obstacles: roadblocks associated with each season
Imagine yourself a dancer, fluid and graceful, as you make, taste, feel, move, and touch your way through the seasons according to your personal natural rhythm, designing your inner life, and your personal standard of beauty.