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The essence of beauty

Spend more time decluttering, meditating and HI 5-ing

Story by Becca Edwards 

Beauty is defined as “a combination of qualities such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses.” But this definition just scratches the surface. Beauty, true beauty, runs deeper.

To experience beauty, we don’t need to look a certain way to be beautiful. Instead, it is more about operating a certain way, or rather allowing and conditioning ourselves to live a certain way — i.e. with mindfulness. Mindfulness is a buzz word that prompts many of us to involuntarily roll our eyes and pass it off as New Age nonsense. It evokes Enya and images of trendy Lululemon yoga clothes, wheatgrass shots, and maybe someone in dire need of a haircut. But mindfulness is none of these things.

Mindfulness is the practice of learning to simply be with ourselves and experience and appreciate beauty — whether that beauty is within ourselves, in others, or in the world around us. With mindfulness, if we are sad, mad, anxious, exhausted, worried, or whatever the emotion, we acknowledge it, we do not judge it, and we move on. We understand every moment is precious and therefore try and savor each moment by being as present as possible. When we get distracted by the past or the future, which because we are human will happen the majority of the time, we also acknowledge it, we do not judge it, and we try to recalibrate and focus on our present moment. In short, mindfulness enables us to embody the essence of beauty.

If mindfulness intimidates you, well, you’re not alone. But, not to worry. At your disposal, there are easy and inexpensive (as in free) techniques to generate mindfulness. Let’s start with something doable: decluttering.


It’s a new year, which means it’s time to emotionally and literally get rid of any of last year’s garbage. Start by setting aside 10 or more minutes a day, one or more days a week, and clean house. You can do this by picking one drawer or one small section of your closet a week and organizing it. An orderly home creates an orderly mind.

Once your external environment begins to declutter, think about your internal environment. How do you feel about you? How can you work with your strengths and your weaknesses? To process your emotions and establish needs and goals, you can journal or explore creative outlets like painting, test out apps like Purposeful (by Kumanu), or commit to daily walking, running or paddleboard workouts that give you self-reflective time out in nature.

Now that your home space and headspace are doing well, think about your personal relationships and how you can tidy them up. Over the election, did you get in a heated political debate that you regret? Send a note, text or email that person and ask how life is going for him/her. Do you have a friend you have been missing since Covid-induced social distancing? Reach out to that person via FaceTime, Zoom or phone and check in.


Another tool is mediation, and it comes in many forms. Moving meditations, such as walking or a yoga flow class that link breath and movement, reduce cortisol, a stress hormone, and increase happy hormones like serotonin and dopamine. Simple crafting like adult coloring books, scrapbooking, knitting and decoupage reduce sensory overload. By being creative, your mind is calm, focused and primed for mindfulness. And within the practice of seated meditation, there are several modalities such as mantra (repetition of words), yantra (focusing on one object), breathwork (focusing on the breath), and guided (either with an app, instructor or recording) meditation.


We will end with a technique I developed called HI 5 = GAINS. “HI” stands for “holistic integration” of five key concepts which spell out the acronym GAINS.

• Gratitude

• Affirmation

• Intention

• Networking

• Spread kindness

By “HI 5-ing” each day with gratitude, affirmation, intention, networking (i.e. choosing someone to truly connect with) and spreading kindness (whether to yourself or others), you can make gains toward being your best self. You can do this upon waking, while you walk down your driveway to get the morning paper, or some other small segment of time during your morning. When you think of each concept, give each one attention. Envision yourself completing your intention or the person you are going to be kind to. If you feel stuck on one of the concepts, such as networking, make an agreement with yourself that you will organically seek it out at some point during the day.