Very important is the chest of drawers that you install in the room that is your mind. You will have many uses for it. To begin with, one dedicated drawer will be your beauty drawer—the subject of this lesson—where you keep reminders of your essential beauty, talismans that ward off and help heal the virulent self-criticism that may be plaguing you.
In every workshop that I lead, whatever its primary subject, I find it important to remind participants that each of them is the beauty in life. They each have an immaculate center or core that is their essential nature. Our thoughts may be very far from beautiful as we pester ourselves, plot our revenge, wax snide and ironic, complain about life, and in countless everyday ways darken our own doorstep. Our actions may likewise prove anything but beautiful as we indulge an addiction, fail to show up to our life purposes, squander meaning opportunities and behave far below our own real standards. But, often quite hidden away and sometimes almost impossible to access, is that essential loveliness—that humanity, that beauty, that goodness—with which every infant enters the world.
You can better access that splendid core by taking a daily trip to that corner chest of drawers that you’ve included in the room that is your mind, opening the drawer in which you keep your beauty talismans, and reminding yourself that you are not your thoughts, not your feelings, not the you who was manic today or chaotic today or despairing today or terrified today, not the you who ate too much at lunch or passed the buck at work, but the you who shares genetic wealth with everyone who has ever done the right thing and risen to the occasion.
What will your beauty talismans be? You can have many, given that you have a whole drawer available! One might be a photo of you at four or five, impish, happy and perfect, getting ready to dive into the lake or cut your birthday cake. A second might be a poem you love, one that captures the poignancy of living, written out in your own hand and decorated by you like a page out of an illuminated manuscript. A third might be a marble that represents your precious core. What else? You can have so many! Create your own wonderful collection of talismans and mementoes that do the right job of reminding you that you are fundamentally precious.
I recently strolled a path surmounting the white chalk cliffs of the English coast and thought about the armada that sailed off to liberate Europe. There will be pitched battles and bloodshed until the end of time and the horrors arising out of our human inheritance may ultimately overwhelm the beauty that is also a feature of that inheritance. In the big picture of armies and tidal waves, what is a marble or a poem or a photo of you at five? What are they? They are just about everything, really. They inspire you to be your best self and to do the next right thing and what else matters more than that?
How might you use your beauty drawer? You might open it every morning as part of your morning routine: you pick out your actual clothes and then you visit the room that is your mind, open your beauty drawer, visit with your talismans, take one or two out to touch and hold, and announce, “I am the beauty in life” or something similarly memorable and resounding. Then, later in the day, maybe when you’ve done something just a little bit foolish or disappointing, you visit with them and they help you heal. Then, in the evening, as part of your bedtime routine, rather than having some anxious thought or some resentment be the last thing on your mind, you visit your beauty drawer and fall asleep while gazing at your talismans of worth. Wasn’t your day enriched by having spent real time with your richest self?
The theme of this lesson is what is known as disidentification, an idea made popular by the Italian psychologist Roberto Assagioli, the developer of a branch of psychotherapy known as psychosynethesis. Assagioli explained: “We are dominated by everything with which our self is identified. Some people get their identity from their feelings, others from their thoughts, others from their social roles. But this identification with a part of the personality destroys the freedom which comes from the experience of the pure ‘I.’” I am picturing this “pure you” as really beautiful—and maybe even as civilization’s saving grace. Remember it, keep it alive, and access it frequently by visiting your beauty drawer daily.