Huffpost Healthy Living
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. Headshot

Beauty, Gratitude and the Open Heart

Posted: Updated:

"... beauty on your earth is a shadow of the beauty of our heaven, and it's a bitter thing to have a blindness for beauty on earth, for it makes a longer teaching to see the beauties of heaven." -- Spoken by an Irish spirit in the book "The Boy who Saw True" (anonymous author).

I have always loved beauty. Since I've been a small child, I've collect beautiful things -- shells, rocks and wood. My home is filled with these, as well as with works of art and beautiful plants. There is nowhere in my environment where there is not something beautiful to look at, both inside and outside in nature. When I walk through my home and the land around it, my heart fills with awe and love as I appreciate the beauty around me. I've done this so automatically throughout my life that it never occurred to me that many people do not open to beauty nor create beauty around them.

In working with some of my clients struggling to keep their heart open, I've mentioned focusing on an object of beauty, and have been surprised to find that many of them have no beauty around them -- no plants, flowers, works of art or objects of nature. When they look around they see walls, appliances, computers and other buildings. Their left-brain functions just fine in this environment, but what about the right -- the creative, intuitive, spiritually-connected aspect?

I encourage you to consider feeding your soul with beauty. There is nothing like awe and gratitude for something beautiful, to open the heart to gratitude in general. If you can love the intricate design in the bark of a tree, or the vibrancy of a flower, or the balance of a beautifully thrown piece of pottery -- that might lead you into loving and appreciating the beauty of your soul and the souls of others. It might open you to feeling gratitude for your life and the sacred privilege of experiencing your journey on this planet.

How much of your thinking time is spent being upset or unhappy about something? What if all that time was spent in gratitude for what you have and for the beauty around you? What if you were present enough in this moment to revel in the fact that you can turn on a faucet and have hot water come out? That you have food to eat and a bed to sleep on? If you are reading this, it is likely that you have a computer, which means you have more than most of the people on this planet.

Try this little experiment: find something of beauty -- it can be as simple as a leaf, a flower, a photograph, a small work of art or the top of a tree out your window. Now let yourself completely open to the thing of beauty. Let yourself feel the beauty in your body -- in your heart, your solar plexus, in your stomach, arms and legs, in your forehead. Let the beauty enliven your body and fill it with vitality. Breathe in the beauty and feel your body's reaction to it. Open to gratitude, thanking God for this experience of beauty.

Notice the peace and joy it gives you to be in this moment with this simple object of beauty. What would life be like if you spent more moments like this, in the present with beauty and with all you have? How much of your waking time is spent in this way?

Beauty and gratitude are soul foods. When you choose to open to them, you extend an invitation to love, peace and joy. This opens the door to your spiritual connection. Your spiritual guidance is always here for you, helping you on your soul's journey -- learning to love yourself and share your love with others.

For more by Margaret Paul, Ph.D., click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.