When we talk about beauty in the context of Ayurveda, it should be perfectly clear from the start that we are not talking about market-driven ideals of the moment. In Ayurveda, inner and outer beauty are intimately related. The more we nurture ourselves, the more radiant we become physically and expressively—regardless of our particular body shape or proportions. In keeping with the general orientation of eastern philosophy and healing, beauty can be viewed as having three aspects; an outer, inner, and secret aspect. When one balances the outer and inner, one has accomplished the secret aspect.
Outer beauty is what we most commonly associate with the field of beauty. It is the perfection of what is visually perceived. It includes the obvious traits such as contours of the body, texture of the skin, and the quality of the hair and nails. But in Ayurveda it also includes grace in posture and movement and the subtle qualities of freshness and vitality and magnetizing brightness of being Like today’s authorities on natural body care, Ayurveda has always understood beauty to be the product of general physical health and appropriate daily care. It is not just a cosmetic event. The emphasis is on self-knowledge and development of positive routines and habits that literally will bring out the best in ourselves. It makes true good looks possible. Even as we grow older, with appropriate care, we will mature with a strength and vitality which will bring out a new depth to our outer beauty—a beauty born of life experience. Inner beauty relates to inner qualities of being, including emotional states and mental abilities. Like physical qualities, they are largely determined at birth and are considered to be the result of actions and aspirations from previous lives. As physical form can be molded by diet and lifestyle, we can also train our minds to cultivate positive states of being. Just as the body can be purified and strengthened to make it outwardly more beautiful, so the mind can become tamed and disciplined. The start of this process is to begin to accept who we are and begin to truly care for and appreciate ourselves. With mind training, the ability to relax while concentrating helps us to be alert and more aware in the moment. This moves our whole being naturally towards our greatest human potentials and activities—to act skillfully in the world with compassion and loving kindness.
The secret aspect of beauty refers to the energy, insight, and inspiration it takes to balance the inner and outer. Developing this special quality takes time, patience, and a willingness to learn from experience. This is the mark of real maturity that ripens into deep lasting beauty that is experienced from within and seen by all from without.