I was determined to turn 40 non-plussed. That’s why I didn’t do one of those 40 before 40 affairs.
I didn’t want it to be such a big deal. That and an element of laziness.
It was an achievement in itself and I had a kind of excitement about saying
However, reaching a milestone age forces you to take stock whether you intend to or not.
As you move to another decade, you can’t help but reflect and consider what’s gone before, what is now and what will be.
My main focus has been my mental health and finding calm. This won’t be ‘the post’ where I talk about this aspect of my life, particularly. I may do at some point, but for now I want to talk about striving to find an inner peace, an inner calm and an inner perspective.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended the first of a series of forums hosted by Renowned Surgeon and Global Beauty Lecturer, Dr Jonquille Chantrey, at her clinic, ONE aesthetic studio, in Alderley Edge.
The headline being:
Body image and self-esteem start with the mind, not the mirror
But this is a beauty clinic, is it not? The mind turns to cosmetic procedures – the outer beauty.
The mind, being the thing, I came away with so much more from the session than a complimentary facial.
One of a series of assembled experts, meditation teacher, Ashleigh Guthrie, asked us sit and stare into a hand held mirror, focusing on one eye. There was initial discomfort, all ready to obsess over any lines, bags, shadows, spidery mascara etc and so forth, but this was soon replaced by discomfort of a different kind, which in turn led to strong emotions on this part.
You see, it was a ‘mirror soul connection’ exercise.
Oh what on earth is that
Well when we do look into the mirror, we probably only see the aforementioned so-called physical attributes. But try staring into what is perhaps sometimes glibly referred to as the gateway to your soul, focus on one of your eyes and stare into your pupil, watch as it flickers and moves.
We were asked to let our minds drift to what we wanted to say to ourselves. It’s a personal thing but I wanted to say ‘please be kind to yourself’. Watching your left eye suddenly brim with tears may sound deeply dramatic, but is pretty powerful.
It also reminded me of the bizarre phenomenon that I only seem to cry out of one, said left eye, these days. Hey right eye – where yo tears at? Must look into this…Anyway that’s something for another day.
That’s probably as deep as I’ll go personally on this post, although I can’t promise not to revisit in future.
The event included a panel of experts from the industry alongside Dr Chantrey and Ashleigh Guthrie; Hairstylist, Calum Tierney; Reiki Master and Wellbeing Coach, Penelope Silver; Personal Trainer, Mark Bohannon; and Celebrity Stylist and Fashion Expert, Lorraine McCulloch.
Joining me in the intimate ‘audience’ were well known faces – actresses who knew only too well what it was to have their outer beauty scrutinised, such as Catherine Tyldesley, Sarah Jayne Dunn, Nicole Barber Lane, Natalie Anderson and Sophie Austin.
Whilst set up theatre style, the event was less Q&A and really flowed into a passionate discussion about the importance of how inner beauty can influence the outer and the importance of the former.
Taking place during what was Mental Health Awareness week, there was a focus on body image and the challenges faced in an era where everything is documented, shared and, indeed, skewed.
My friend who joined me at the session, told me bluntly (that’s why I love her) that my own body image was ‘warped’.
I came away grateful at how generous many in the room were at sharing their own insecurities and challenges both mentally and physically, and how each can have such a strong effect on the other.
Whereas this can often lead to the deeply negative; I feel ugly, therefore I am – the effect can just be as powerful if you reverse the equation – I feel happy, therefore this will radiate into what I see in the mirror.
You see, I’m used to thinking that I’ve seen something horrible in the mirror, and this has led to…let’s call it one of my bad episodes. But it’s quite definitely the other way round – if I’m not feeling at peace on the inside, that will reflect on what I see in the mirror.
And it was this session that reaffirmed what I need to take care of as I enter this new decade.
Back to the session, and as we all talked, everyone brought something inspiring to the table. Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t an inspirational meme brought to life, with well-rehearsed pseudo psychiatry and empty declarations that, according to most of those horrendous memes, Marilyn Monroe said first (poor Mazza, it’s a wonder she had any time to make those movies given how much jabbering people have put her down to have done).
It was insightful and honest.
Just some of the lines I brought away with me from the group;
People come to me saying they want to look better. As time goes by, the deeper reasons come out. They want more energy, confidence, less anxiety. This is what they’re striving for. The physical tends to be a by-product
Society needs to be educated and reassured, especially young people, that the pictures on social media and filtered, with good lighting and taken from the ‘right’ angle. They’re not real.
Be your best self, don’t compare.
There is a correlation between how we feel and how we see ourselves
It’s important to eat real food, good quality protein
We’re not taught how to be ourselves. Self reflection creates clarity and the space to focus.
There were many more and the more I list, the more I realise that this is, in turn, becoming an inspirational meme. I don’t want that – it’s not enough and out of context can tread a fine line.
The value of such a forum is to discuss such matters in the moment and feel a sense of camaraderie and feeling of ‘it’s not just me’. And so this is why I encourage attendance.
My stand-up favourite quote of the evening was, however, this;
Psychopaths mellow after 40
What I thought would be a straightforward evening of Q&As and top tips for looking good was in fact so much more.
And, so, what I thought would be a straightforward blog post of reiterating those tips whilst feeling slightly uncomfortable that I was peddling one of those ten a penny beauty blog posts that others have got down so much better than me (and have a YouTube channel to boot – I mean I’ve got one, but it was shocking and short-lived), has led to me sharing more about myself than I thought I would, and probably heralded the start of something more down this path.
Additionally I learned about ‘Hypersensitivity Personality’. Not to self-diagnose, but perhaps this is why I’m always too hot, too paranoid, too ‘please would you mind turning that down just a tiny bit even though, granted, we can barely hear it to the point I’ve got subtitles on’.
In case you’re interested, with the messages from that evening firmly in mind, these are some of the tools I have been using over the last year to find that inner peace and ‘beauty’ (whereas some may have started to fall by the wayside, I’ve been inspired by that evening spent at ONE to step matters up…
Therapy, Meditation, Swimming, Breathing Exercises, Sound Therapy and, indeed, just taking time just to stop. I’ve always craved silence and whilst I might find that externally sometimes, it’s nothing if I can’t do the same for my inner voices.
I’m even going to try being kind to myself.
It’s far from a done deal but everyone has to start somewhere and I recommend perhaps starting at one of these wonderful forums.
I’ll give the last word to Dr Jonquille Chantrey,
Beautiful aesthetic work can transform quality of life but for over a decade, I have always aimed to improve self-esteem. My vision is to support patients as a whole – encompassing evidence-based nutrition, anti-ageing medicine, psychology and meditation techniques.
This is where complete beauty lies.
Ok, one last word from me.
We all place some value on the outer – it’s human nature, but if you feel at peace with yourself, the rest will follow.
To be continued…
The next forum is on 26 June 2019 at 6.45pm –
For more details of this, all future events and the range of services available at ONE aesthetic studio, please visit https://oneaestheticstudio.com/