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Irene Michaels Headshot

I on Beauty: Chapter 2

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Beauty is more than skin deep. It goes right down to the core of who you are. Years ago I would have never thought that goodness and serenity, as well as proper sleep habits and meditation could keep our Post 50 faces aglow.

In the last chapter we talked about outward beauty tips, which are very important to maintain in Living Beautiful Post 50.

In this chapter I would like to share with you some inspirational and rejuvenating beauty treatments I use.

You have heard this many times before: "Get plenty of rest." This is imperative to looking good! It makes a huge difference what time you go to sleep at night. I spoke to my nutritionist, Sherry Belcher; who maintains that it is not always easy to retire before midnight, but it is healthier. Here is why and this is what she had to offer us about sleep:

Our bodies have a relationship with the rhythm of nature, a circadian rhythm. Our internal clock responds to sunlight and darkness. When light enters our eyes it stimulates the brain to make certain hormones and to wake us up. Conversely, when it gets dark, the body sends signals to make the hormone melatonin, which happens a couple of hours after sunset, which helps to make us sleepy. Sleep goes through deep and superficial cycles at night and according to some research the majority of our deepest sleep cycles (where the body does its repair, rebooting and general housekeeping) takes place early in the night between 10 P.M. to 1P.M. Melatonin, which is believed to stimulate the repair process in our bodies, peaks around midnight.

After 2 A.M. the sleep cycles are not as deep as the body prepares to release cortisol to wake us in the morning. If our eyes are exposed to light at night then we do not release the melatonin we need to make us drowsy. We also can miss the window of the melatonin peak but can get a second wind after 10 P.M. The quality of sleep that happens after midnight does not seem to be as restorative to the body.

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Aside from proper rest, I also meditate everyday. The method I practice is Shambhala. It is the Shambhala view that every human being has a fundamental nature of goodness, warmth and intelligence. The Shambhala path helps us break through the ancient crust of ego and awaken to the joy of fully living in this world. Awakening and opening, we discover the world to be naturally sacred-pure and full of beauty. By following this practice I believe that we can reclaim our natural beauty and birthright of wisdom and compassion. In this method, you keep your eyes open and affix them to a spot and follow your breath. The practice is to help you clear your mind and become calm. When I ask women if they meditate, and they reply with a yes, I ask them to explain to me exactly how they practice. They immediately say "Yes, I sit there and think about all sorts of things: dinner, children, my husband, work etc." While meditating the only one thing you should be concentrating on is your breath and letting go of everything else. When you practice proper meditation you will begin to experience a difference in your life. Start with five minutes a day, as most people cannot sit still and empty their mind for more than five minutes! In time you will be able to sit longer. For optimum results, work up to 30 minutes per day.

Of course, there are variations of meditation, most of which range along a continuum of some combination of concentration and open awareness techniques. Defining and understanding the type of meditation being practiced represents some of the most important and challenging factors in the field of scientific meditation research. The difficulty of creating clear and consistent definitions of meditative practices is evidenced by the discrepancies found in many academic descriptions of meditation.

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The practice of Shambhala meditating is to sit upright in a quiet room or serene atmosphere, place your hands on your folded legs and if you can't fold your legs then you can sit on a chair. Your eyes are open for this practice, focus them on a spot in the room. Sit quietly and when a thought comes to your mind, label it as a "thought" and let it go. In ten seconds another thought will enter your mind and release it also. Keep doing this with all the thoughts that come into your mind, and before too long you will have trained your mind to be in the moment, hear what people are actually saying and have a richer life. It's not hard to do with a little practice. You wonder how an actor performs a one-man show for three hours on Broadway, he has what is called muscle memory. Your brain acts like a muscle, train it, and it will perform.

One of my favorite beauty icons is Audrey Hepburn who was always beautiful through out every decade. Even Post 50. She had a distinctive style and an abundance of grace and elegance. Audrey also practiced meditation as a method of achieving inner beauty.

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We all know Audrey for her roles in Funny Face (1957), War and Peace with her husband, Mel Ferrer, and Henry Fonda (1956), The Nun's Story (1959), The Unforgiven (1960), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and of course my favorite My Fair Lady, and the Broadway production Gigi. In later years she became a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Audrey has always tried to raise awareness about children in need. It stems from her early years when she and her family went hungry during WW II. Audrey Hepburn was a true humanitarian and has left her mark on the world forever.

One of her wonderful quotes that defines beauty:

"The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides."

With so many pressures and stress factors in today's world, I credit my peacefulness to practicing sitting meditation. We as beautiful women need our beauty rest, our mindfulness and a healthy attitude.

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