Last night I went to a concert at a local bar downtown. Xavier Rudd, an Australian multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, came to town. He played to a sold-out crowd of mostly 20-something-year-olds with his well known shoeless feet, laid-back surfer-esque nonchalance, and positive juju. Just to look at him he seemed to fit right in to our alternative friendly, progressive mountain town.
After the opening act finished his set and we were standing shoulder to shoulder on the dance floor up against the stage waiting for Xavier to come on I took some time to look around the crowd and absorb the scene with a lens of mindfulness. As I panned the bar all I saw were beautiful people. Each individually unique face, body type, style of dress, and flashing mannerism were simply beautiful. To clarify, I’m not talking about visually striking, classically beautiful, physically unflawed, perfectly symmetrical people. I’m speaking in a broader sense (or if you happen to understand buddhist terminology I’m speaking in terms of the ultimate dimension). Beauty is an inherent quality we all possess, like goodness. When our minds and hearts are open to it we can practice to see beauty in every precious moment we are afforded.
As I was filled with gratitude looking around seeing nothing but beautiful people I was reminded of how in years past my gaze was seen through a filter of self-consciousness and, ultimately, very low self-esteem. When looking through that filter no one is beautiful, and the ones that are you hate because of it. That filter also distorts reality and causes many things to be unenjoyable, uncomfortable, and cause for complaint. What I understand now is that low self-worth is rooted in selfishness. When looking at the world with selfishness in tow everything is about you. And when everything is about you, interestingly enough, life tends to be generally pretty miserable. And while the old adage of misery loving company does hold true in many cases I’ve found that the opposite (thankfully) is also true: goodness loves company too!
When we focus on the good within and around us it multiplies and spreads and soon we can see it everywhere in everything and in everyone. Like seeds carried on the wind our goodness is planted and takes root until it’s sprouting and growing in far flung places over the hills.
Beauty and goodness aren’t only outside forces. If we want to discover them we need not look very far. Beauty rests on every breath and comes from within us. What we are within so shall we see without. Cultivating a mindfulness practice is about getting rid of the distorted filters we often see life through in order to develop clear sight and wise vision. And in this space…beauty is always waiting.