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Beauty Diet

A few years back I was introduced to a gentle Ayurvedic cleanse, guided by the wonderful Muneera Wallace, which opened my eyes to all the ways in which our bodies, minds and spirits can benefit from a regular clearing and simplifying of inputs. The program was super gentle, not really a cleanse in the typical modern-day Western wellness sense at all, and involved loving practices such as gentle self massages, eating simple nourishing mono-meals, and being careful what you consume outside of food. 

One of the things that really stuck with me, alongside the delicious Kitchari which I am still making to this day, was the attention paid to the sense of perception. What we see and hear in the day to day creates our world. It affects our nervous systems, our emotions and our moods as much as exercise, food, and our interactions with others. Paying attention to, and taking stock of our perception diet, is as important as paying attention to what we eat, to our sleep, and the ways we are moving our bodies. 

Music, news, social media, entertainment; unlike our stomachs, our eyes and ears are in an almost constant state of consumption. Outside of sleep and maybe meditation, we are always consuming something. Ayurveda asks the question: what is your perception diet made up of? 

I think about this a lot, particularly now as I re-integrate back into my daily life at home post holiday. Becoming aware of the changes in my body as I switch from deciding which museum to go to, what shoes to wear, or which neighbourhood I want to explore for looking at sales figures, evaluating opportunities and scheduling almost every part of my day to ensure I get done what needs to get done whether it’s reports, phone calls, scheduling doctor’s appointments, or watering the garden.  

I have always loved the days at home after a proper holiday. The lingering sense of possibility that comes from days on repeat spent recreating, and the inspiration which effortlessly takes the place of the heavy grind of problem-solving. As much as I love the time away doing the fun things, I relish in the excitement of post-holiday puttering upon returning home. After hours and hours of travel, there’s nothing quite like getting home to your own bed. I adore the process of unpacking the treasures I picked up along the way, sorting and catching up on my laundry, and retaining that hopeful feeling that it is possible to see the world for the beauty it holds even in the midst of the grind of the day to day. 

My perception diet the last few weeks consisted of art, food, nature, gardens, architecture, history, books, cooking, creating, socializing and taking photos to try to record and harness every single drop of it. The quest I’m on upon my return is how to ensure I don’t immediately swap it for a daily diet of almost exclusively spreadsheets, traffic, mindless scrolling, hard conversations and the lists and lists of mundane tasks that come with returning to work life. Of course I can’t pretend these realities don’t exist, but with 24 hours in the day and 8 of them set aside for sleeping, what percentage can we reasonably set aside for the beautiful, for the expansive, for the spiritual? 

That’s the task at hand. One thing I’m going to try to do is find one beautiful thing every day to photograph. I was glad to have my camera with me for this trip, something I’m excited to pursue as a hobby again after taking a break the past 5 years or so. This picture of a van full of flowers, which I stumbled upon walking through the streets of Paris on our last morning, reminds me that beauty is everywhere, if you just keep your eyes open for it. Create it, consume it, celebrate it, soak it up.

The goal? Keep a balanced perception diet. It’s as necessary as the quest for the right amount of protein, iron, fibre or water. I’m adding beauty to the list of dietary must haves, just like my iron pills. It won’t be hard to find, that I am certain of. It’s just remembering to reach for it.

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