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How The Brain Creates Beauty: This Is NOT About Renee Zellweger’s Face

How the Brain Creates Beauty: this is NOT about Renee Zellweger’s Face

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They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, yet so many of us are concerned about social standards of beauty and body image. If it’s truly in the beholder’s eye, then perhaps we should remind ourselves that we behold our own image each time we look in the mirror. What if my beauty were defined from the inside out, each time my thoughts complimented my own reflection?

In studies done in fMRI machines on the brain’s of individuals looking at art that they labeled either “beautiful, ugly, or disgusting” one area of the brain consistently got active while observing beauty: the medial orbitofrontal cortex (in the front of the brain).  (Ishizu, Zeki, London).   If activity in the front of the brain is required to appreciate beauty, then we should be exercising that part of the brain so that it’s robust and easily engaged. Yet so many of us live in self-criticism, thoughts of not enough, fear of being judged or loved, and in a threat mode to compete with the outside world of beauty norms that are often unattainable. If we continue to feed our fear centers (which engage activity more towards the middle of the brain rather than the front) and tax our prefrontal cortex, then we actually cut ourselves off from beauty.  Meditation has been shown to exercise the prefrontal cortex.  How much more beauty could you appreciate today if you took five minutes to meditate?

What could you change from the inside out if you looked upon your own reflection with kindness, compassion and reverence?


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