When I was bald, I noticed a striking difference in how people reacted to me based on how I felt. Most days, I loved being bald. It was freeing and liberating to not be weighed down physically or emotionally by hair. And it was an awakening experience to have the part of my body that’s closest to the heavens be so open and exposed. And when I was feelin’ it, when I owned it and wore baldness with pride, people noticed in a way that beckoned love out to play. It was as if every word we spoke, even as strangers, was saying “namaste”: the light in me recognizes the light in you. And though we didn’t have words to say as much, we could both feel it in our genuine, open, authentic interactions even about mundane things.
But when I had days where I missed being normal, when I didn’t feel like fighting or I was too tired to meet this profound opportunity to awaken full-on, others could sense it in the way I carried myself. It was as if I was asking everyone to not notice I was bald, not ask me about it or remind me of it. I put that energy out, and it invited an elephant into the room – the same elephant I promised to avoid the story of my diagnosis – making every interaction just a little bit strained. Others could sense I wasn’t at peace with what was happening, and it put them a little on edge as well, even if they had only intended to bring me love.
The difference is beautifully defined by a lesson from the wonderful Dr. Elizabeth Lesser on SuperSoulSunday; the idea of ‘Amor Fati’. It translates to loving one’s fate, and having trust that what is happening, has happened, and will happen is absolutely right for you. When I owned my fate, and the fight upon me, it showed. It was present in my bright eyes and my bald, glowing head. But when I wished it to be different, when I was at odds with what was happening, it showed as well; like a fish swimming against the current of reality. It looked out of place and my internal struggle showed outwardly, and people mimicked it back in the form of inauthentic interaction.
Cancer fighters learn a great truth from being bald: true beauty is not a gift, but a light. It’s a light that shines from within. And we all have the potential to SHINE.
What do we say when we talk about a woman ‘lighting up the room’? We mean that she draws our attention, we mean that she brings a lightness, a grace, and has such a presence that we can’t help but take notice. Does she have to be the traditional forms of media-approved beauty? Absolutely not; in fact not a single part of that definition had the word ‘beauty’ in it at all. It’s not about looks. I proved that you could do it with no hair at all! So how does she do it?
There is a deep, undeniable part of us that so badly wants to be in the moment. We call it wanting ‘happiness’ or wanting ‘joy’ or to be ‘at peace’, but happiness and joy are only symptoms of embracing the moment. We can only get these qualities – happiness, joy, peace – from being right here, right now. So when a woman walks in, embodying the truth of the moment, fully present and making her presence (emotionally and physically) known, we see it, we recognize that light, and we crave it. It triggers a part of us deep inside we’ve been neglecting. We want that presence, and it sparks us to life and to the moment, and we think ‘there’s no where else I’d rather be’. Boom. Her light lights us, one light lights another, and thus we say: ‘she lights up the room’.
So how can you harness this power for yourself and be the strong, beautiful, eye-catching beauty that you are in every entrance?
First and foremost, Presence. You must own your physical space and mental space. Walking into any interaction (including just with your husband), knowing and being present for where you are, being excited about it, being enthusiastic about the physical environment as much as you are about the moment and its potential. Being in the NOW, as we’ve talking about so many times, immediately gives us the sensation of being fully alive, light full-bright on. It’s a sensation that is immediately recognized by others. They see it, and react ‘namaste’; she’s here! She’s drawing me back into this moment as well.
Second, be engaged. I doubt there is a reader among us that can deny how annoying it is when someone intends and pretends to be perceived as smart. They might be the brightest person in the room, but the rehearsed and pre-prepared answers and observations feel contrived, and we can immediately sense that this person is at odds with the moment. They’re trying to control the moment, and control our beliefs about it. They want it to turn out a certain way; they want to be perceived a specific way, and are so caught up in being thought of as smart, they end up killing their chance to do so.
Intelligence is not boastful. An engaged person offers the knowledge they have, and happily seeks new knowledge from others. She makes no assumptions of others, (a wonderful lesson from Don Miguel Ruiz) It’s an open, sharing presence that welcomes the unknown, because unknown is where exciting surprises occur. Knowledge, another of our inner lights, lights the wicks of others, and feeds off the heat and brightness of others.
The other part of being engaged is listening. That includes listening when others are talking, and when their not talking, such as body language and social cues thereof. It includes being compassionate to others, without absorbing their dispositions. A happy person who gets drowned by the sadness of another person has absorbed the discontentment of another.
Another beautiful lesson Dr. Lesser shares is her idea of the veils. That throughout life, we acquire veils that mask our true nature and soul. These veils are social standards and beliefs about ourselves that cover up our inner light. They tell us what to be, and think, and do, and say, and they become layers upon layers of light-blocking beliefs and standards. Getting rid of these veils, acting purely from the soul, renews the brightness of that light.
Thus, we can see that a woman who lights up the room isn’t hiding behind her job, or the clothes she wore that she hopes make her look thinner, or her stature or her intelligence or some made-up social hierarchy. She is simply here, allowing her soul to be open and hungry for experience.
The work of ‘peeling back veils’, as Dr. Lesser calls it, is serious work, but some of the most rewarding. You can read more about how she does this and all her work through the Omega Institute.
For now, and for the party you’re headed to later, do your best to remember that it doesn’t matter what you know, it doesn’t matter what you wear or what your job is or even if you have hair. You have the divine right to be here now, to be right where you are in body and in spirit, to feel good and help others feel good too. That your light can light up others if you let it shine bright through your presence, through your engagement in the moment and others, through your enthusiasm for the here and now.
Cover photo by LPK