November 23, 2013

The Mindful Fashionista: Spiritual & Stylishly Self-Expressive need not be an Oxymoron. ~ Michele Mekel

Has the mindfulness path caused you to lock your inner fashionista in the closet and throw away the key? Have you been shamed into submitting to the black-yoga-pants uniform when you are deeply drawn to rockin’ funky hats, mile-high heels, and mountains of bling (all at the same time)?

In a lot of spiritual circles, including many mindfulness ones, messages about personal appearance are frequently broadcast. Among those messages is the following: attention to personal presentation, beyond being clean and kempt, constitutes vanity and pride, and creates separation (read: undesirable)—rather than exhibiting humility and establishing unity (read: desirable). For many of us, this message can squelch—or, at least, generate serious guilt about self-expression through one of the most personal and frequently used creative media at our disposal—how we dress.

However, another message that abounds in spiritual communities is that we should honor our minds and our bodies as temples. Given this teaching, there should be no shame in the desire to decorate the physical sanctuary in ways that let the inner divinity shine through.

So how exactly can one celebrate this internal sacredness with personalized fashion sensibilities in an aware and more enlightened manner? Well, here are some ideas on practicing mindfulness in fashion.

First and foremost, some soul searching is in order. That requires getting spiritually naked with ourselves and recognizing that we are neither the roles we play (or think we should play), nor the stories we tell ourselves about who we are (or who we should be).

It also means being nonjudgmental in accepting who we are at this moment in time and acknowledging whatever we are presently experiencing. Only after embracing the bared core of our being can we genuinely express that uniqueness to the world through our own quintessential flair.

Then—just as is the case with mindfulness meditation—comes the leap from so-called “pillow practice” to “living practice.” Making mindfully dressing to express (rather than impress) an intentional part of daily life entails not only being in tune with ourselves, but it also necessitates addressing the monster in the closet, our drawers, the hamper, and perhaps on the floor—in other words, anywhere we store, stash, or slough off our clothing and accessories.

The best way to start taming the beast is through non-attachment to the clothing and accessories that fail to reflect the style statement of the soul.

Remove anything and everything that may not feel right in terms of fabric or texture, or fit comfortably—or at all.

That includes the when-I-lose 20-pounds jeans, those in-case-I-gain-10-pounds sweats, and the smokin’ stilettos that cause both a “shoegasm” and epic blisters. Eliminate whatever won’t look right in terms of cut or color, or that falls short of conveying your authentic style when adorning your corporeal shrine. Included are the looks-great-on-the-hanger-but-not-on-the-human dress you bought on clearance five years ago but have never worn and the moth-eaten sweater that now has more holes than warm-and-fuzzy memories. Simply put: if your soul doesn’t sing when you put it on, then put it out.

If you rigorously cull your collection, you’ll find treasures you’d forgotten about. Suddenly, you’ll have room to store the newly right-sized wardrobe so that you can truly appreciate what you have. And, you’ll be left with items that shine your soul’s style out into the world.

As to the purged items, set them free by giving them (sans the holey knitwear) away. They may then have the opportunity to find homes where they are as treasured as the items remaining in your collection.

By making this exercise a deliberate part of our mindfulness lifestyle, say with the changing of the seasons, we’ll gain an understanding of impermanence, as well as non-attachment. You will notice that your soul style changes, a little or a lot, over time because of what you experience. You will likely find that you become a more conscious consumer, selectively adding items to your wardrobe because they deeply resonate rather than because they are the latest trend. You will probably observe that things you once loved you can now release.

You will possibly perceive getting dressed to be a more Zen-like experience than it was previously. And in time, we may recognize that we are less judgmental and more accepting of, and increasingly compassionate toward your own likeness in the mirror because you—and the rest of world—now see a truer reflection of your authentic essence.


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Asst. Editor: Edith Lazenby/Editor: Bryonie Wise

 Photo: (Flickr)


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Michele Mekel