Last month, Beauty Guru Caroline Wachsmuth shared here balancing and beautifying body oil with us from her new book, Seasons. Today, Caroline gives us a fresh and heartfelt perspective on what it means to be beautiful. She reminds us to tune into ourselves, reclaim our individuality and connect with our innate intuition.

C | As far back as I can remember working in the beauty industry, whether it was writing, performing hands-on treatments or creating products, the mysterious question of “true beauty” would always come up in one way or another.

Although beauty criterias naturally change over time, as does how women respond to them, arbitrarily set aesthetic dictates create a constant: the aspiration to be “fitting into” or to “look like”. Throughout history, there are countless examples of extraordinary practices or even harmful behaviors women would follow to achieve unreachable “beauty” ideals. For some, it can manifest as inconsistent eating rituals or all kind of exercise routines, as ephemeral as fashion trends. Judgmental comparison and self-censorship have also been key factors in this unspoken competition.

Women’s vulnerability can manifest in different ways and be the result of numerous underlying causes. The beginning of a cure is to start looking within: reclaiming and owning your individuality, versus thinking that serenity will gloriously hit when your body looks like photo shopped lookalike. Working with yourself - not against, listening very carefully to the needs your body is expressing, whether it’s eating cleaner, resting more, moving more, or eating a particular food even if it’s not what your mind is telling you to do. Identify your weaknesses and realize the power you have to overcome them. Know your body so intimately that you will feel the difference between being too tired or just a bit lazy.

My suggestion to get there in a practical way is to start listening to your “hara”. Hara is the Japanese word for abdomen, which has both physical and energetic meanings. It is right there, deep inside your belly and within the optimal functioning of your organs where true beauty lies. If the hara is healthy, you will feel vibrant, strong, focused, happy, inspired and sexy. And that feeling will be true, honest and natural. Not induced by a pill or by convincing yourself that a new diet, clothes, or beauty products are the answer.

Seated meditation is my number one tool. This is usually while practicing that you will hear your most fundamental needs speak up, and also experience totally unexpected emotional releases. Just by sitting, breathing deeply, slowly, quieting the never-ending brain chat.

Truth does not come from the ongoing mind dialogue, but from what you feel deep down in your belly and heart. What is tight, uneven, shallow, tense or even sore? This is self-care, self-love. And when you take care, you’ll be able to celebrate your own individuality and express your beauty in a brutally real way. It will be your own, not anybody else’s. It can only get better from there. That is your foundation. Then, all else is pleasurable decoration.