Monday, January 26, 2015

Farther Along the Beauty Way

Coming from the US state of New Mexico, I learned early in life to love spicy foods. We like to treat friends to favorite homemade spicy dishes. (Some may think we inflict our tastes on them; I prefer to say we treat them to authentic New Mexican cuisine.) A typical reaction to a dish bathed in our hot sauce goes like this: they smile and enthusiastically try a bite; their eyes open far too wide and they begin to sweat profusely and reach for the water to put out the flames in their stomachs; then, when voice and reason return, they nod and politely say, “Tasty.” They sometimes don’t come back.

One person commented, “I’ve heard of people who preach hellfire, but you’re the only one I know who hands out samples.”

These days, however, my body is starting to tell me to be more selective in my diet. I have to be careful of overdoing my favorites. I still like it hot, but in smaller quantities. I relate to the woman who stepped off the scale and was asked by her husband what the verdict was. “According to the height table,” she replied, “I should be about six inches taller.”

But more important than the food I put into my body are thoughts I put into my mind. Thoughts of bitterness like, “I hate her!” Thoughts of despair like, “I'll never be happy again.” Thoughts of fear like, “I could never do that!” And thoughts of worry, thoughts of greed and thoughts of self-loathing…“I’m so stupid.” A constant diet of these killer thoughts will destroy any of us long before heartburn or cholesterol.

The indigenous Navajo people of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona (the DinĂ©, as they call themselves) have an expression for this. They traditionally believe that how they fill their minds will shape their lives. So they want to fill their minds with that which is good, harmonious and edifying. They speak of “walking and thinking in the Beauty Way” – ridding their minds of all that is destructive and filling them with that which is good and peaceful.

With beauty, may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.

(Excerpt from the Navajo Night Way Ceremony)
The Beauty Way is the way of love and contentment, peace and kindness. It is the way of patience and courage and, above all, harmony.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty,
lively, may I walk.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty,
living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

(Excerpt from the Navajo Night Way Ceremony)
What are you putting into your mind? James Allen has said, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” Fill your mind with life-affirming thoughts and tomorrow will find you farther along the Beauty Way.

-- Steve Goodier

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