Did you know studies have shown jasmine is more relaxing than valium? And when the skin smells sandalwood (I didn't even know skin could smell!) it starts to heal itself? Then there are the stories I keep coming across of people who cured a debilitating illness by eating fresh, organic foods. It's not rocket science, the notion that natural ingredients are better for us. That's not to say it's easy, or cheap, to embrace a natural lifestyle. I rid our house of chemical cleaners years ago. And yet, my refrigerator does NOT look like this:
In my quest to adopt a more organic lifestyle, I decided to make the switch to all-natural beauty products. I very quickly found myself pulled into the vortex of beauty blogs and YouTube videos. I had no idea there are women across the world who dedicate a sizable portion of their lives to reviewing beauty products on YouTube. My favorite videos featured an Italian woman who lives in Milan. I watched, mesmerized, as she spent a full eighteen minutes reviewing a single tube of lipstick. Granted, she had to stop when ambulance sirens blew past her apartment window, but eighteen minutes on a tube of lipstick? I took her word for it and purchased the lipstick only to discover it sticks to my two front teeth! Even a simple search to find an effective all-natural toothpaste proved daunting. So, I asked my dentist.
First, I listened as he told me about his friend Brittany who has a British mother and American father. "They named her sister Liberty. Brittany and Liberty!" he exclaimed with unusual fanfare for an otherwise reserved man who is a convincing doppelgänger for Jared Kushner. When I posed the question about all-natural toothpaste he launched off into a long diatribe on all things organic, using actual air quotes around the word "organic" as though it was a crackpot idea cooked up by left-wing nuts. This was the moment I realized my dentist is a cherry-picker when it comes to science. Gasp!
Around and around I went on a merry-go-round of natural products. "Coconut oil works wonders on all skin types." "Don't use coconut oil if you have oily skin." "Essential oils are safe and effective." "Essential oils can wreak havoc on your skin." Overwhelmed, I nearly gave up.
It was an idea from Martha Beck's book Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live that helped me find my way. Beck says the answer to most questions can be found by asking, "Does it feel like shackles on, or shackles off?" It's simple:
Shackles on, let it go.*
Shackles off, go for it.
*Be especially wary of anything that has a "should" attached to it.
It's surprising how many things we do in life because an expert, a YouTube video, or a trusted friend says we should. The notion that we would listen to our body above all else is counter-cultural. We've been taught that our feelings are fickle, suspect, and will surely lead us astray. The church goes so far as to say our natural impulses are the source of all sin. But I'm reminded again and again that one of our greatest gifts is our God-given, intuitive nature. It knows what it knows. And this, it turns out, is a whole hell of a lot.