A Teaching Story from Lit from Within: Tending Your Soul for Lifelong Beauty by Victoria Moran

Victoria Moran, author of Shelter for the Spirit, has written a wonderful book on the spiritual practice of beauty. Here's an example of her point of view.

"At one time, I lived in London and had a volunteer job teaching 'poise and grooming' to girls from low-income families in the city's East End. To my amazement, most of these girls had never been out of their neighborhood. The museums, theaters, and pageantry that define their city for a tourist may as well have been on the other side of the world. It was obvious to me that it would be pretty silly to teach 'poise and grooming' to kids who didn't know what they were supposed to be poised for. So I changed the curriculum. Five days a week for a month, we took field trips. We saw paintings at the National Gallery and the costume collection at the Victoria and Albert. We watched the Horse Guard change at Buckingham Palace and the old guard shop at Harrod's. We smelled the flowers at Kew Gardens and heard the vespers at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. I even negotiated a 'day of beauty' at Elizabeth Arden in which each girl received one of the services. It wasn't that I thought these thirteen-year-olds really needed facials or pedicures, but I knew they needed to be treated royally in a lovely place.

"Other than that day at the spa, neither poise nor grooming was ever mentioned. Even so, at the end of four weeks, the visible transformation in these girls was such that I felt like Henry Higgins — only younger, female, and American. Nothing had changed in my students' lives in any concrete way, but they had had experiences that hinted at the scope and wonder of the world. Their epiphany brought one for me: beauty rubs off. You cannot stand face-to-face with a Rembrandt and walk away the same person.

"I believe that when you surround yourself with beauty, a change in your own energy patterns takes place."

To Practice: Go to an art museum or a garden and stand face-to-face with something beautiful.