What Does It Mean to Walk in Beauty?

in a field aloneLast week I invited you to take part in a retreat with me: The Goddess Talk sessions, hosted by my friend Shann Vander Leek. Shann’s goal for the summit to help women claim their feminine sovereignty and walk in beauty. As soon as I sent out the email invitation last week, I received the question: What does it mean to Walk in Beauty?

As I reflected on this question, I remembered a saying I once heard about beauty being before me, behind me, below me, and above me. When I looked it up, I realized it was a Navajo prayer. It comes from a purification ceremony for soldiers when they come home to help them restore balance and return to “normal” life.

The latter part of the prayer reads:

With beauty before me, I walk.
With beauty behind me, I walk.
With beauty below me, I walk.
With beauty above me, I walk.
With beauty all around me, I walk.
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty,
It is finished in beauty.

But what does it mean to walk in beauty? To me, it means to notice the beauty in everyday life: in your children's laughter, the flowers and butterflies in your garden, the resiliency of the blade of grass, the wind blowing through the trees. More importantly, it means seeing the beauty in yourself. That's really the point of this month's sticky note challenge: It's so you can see the beauty in yourself, the perfection in you.

As we get caught up in our day-to-day lives, it's so easy to forget the beauty before us. The beauty within us. 

In preparation for the Goddess Talk sessions, I invited Shann to be a guest on my podcast Reclaiming Body Love. We started talking about my own journey from body shame to body love and the role yoga played in it. In some ways, Shann and I have similar journeys in that yoga was a starting point for both of us to get reconnected with our sacred body temples.

I remember my very first yoga class. I was in my mid to late 20s, and my gym had hired a yoga teacher to teach one class a week. The class was packed full of women who hoped it would help them lose weight. As a runner, I was just hoping to stretch out my tight, tired muscles. 

But something happened to me that night that I will never forget. As I stretched, as I worked out the tension in my muscles, I began to cry. This was a point in my life where I was so disconnected from my body and my emotions, that tears were foreign to me. As I wept silently, I thought to myself, what is going on? It had been so long since I had allowed myself to cry that I immediately thought something was terribly wrong with me.

Although it scared me and it would be quite a while until I went back to yoga class, that day began an unfolding for me. Every time I went back to yoga, it hurt. Sometimes the pain was physical; sometimes it was emotional. Yet, something in me knew that yoga was going to be an important and powerful tool in my healing journey. And it has been.

In many ways, I credit my now daily yoga practice with teaching me to walk in beauty. It motivated me to start my daily gratitude practice, taught me to treat myself and others with loving kindness, and reconnected me with my sacred body temple. Through yoga, I was exposed to women of all shapes, sizes, and ages; I learned to appreciate the beauty of the human body in all its forms. Gradually I learned to appreciate the beauty of my own body and began to treat it like it actually was a sacred temple that housed my soul.

To me, that is part of what it means to walk in beauty. Yes, beauty is all around me; but beauty is also within me – it is me. This beautiful existence we share is how we walk in beauty together. Learning to see the beauty in each other – in ourselves – even on the worst days is how we walk in beauty.

How do you walk in beauty?




  • Shann says:

    Mary, Thank you for this post about how you walk in beauty. I enjoyed our conversation so much and look forward to sharing your wisdom in the Goddess Talk Sessions next week. Big LOVE and many blessings. XOX – Shann

  • Virginia Reeves says:

    Mary – lovely reminder on how we need to recognize and show appreciation for ALL that we are, what and who we are surrounded by, and how those connections are there for our benefit more often than not.

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