How to eat beauty for the soul

A Note from Natalie

Natalie is the resident writer, but not an expert. For expert advice, please book a consultation with Dr Quinn

Inspiration about nourishing the senses.

– How not to just look at a scene of beauty, but to understand how to go about absorbing it in a meaningful, nourishing way.

We might know how to read poetry… But do we know how to eat it?


making the ache sing

Tyler Knott Gregson

Open yourself up to opportunity

Forget about time and money. There’s so much out there to experience – lots of it completely free, some of it not free, but well worth taking a look, and when you do start exploring, you find a whole wealth of unimagined beauty just waiting for you – unassuming, seemingly purposeless – purely existing for the fleeting pleasure of being seen and enjoyed.

Those are the things to aim for – that is kind of the state of mind to aim for.

I am not going here with any purpose in mind, other than to experience something beautiful.

Recently we visited Pashley Manor’s tulip festival. Why? To see tulips!



Take it out of context

You know what it’s like when you’re fixated on a particular circumstance. Everything you see, read and hear tends to get filtered through that – how does this relate to it? How does this apply?

Sadly this can create a pretty narrowed experience. ‘If only so-and-so was here to see it. This would be amazing if…’ etc etc.

You get the picture.

Once you’ve set yourself in a position to see beauty, you don’t want to reduce the experience down to your own set of circumstances, so goal number one is to actively remove your context.

Don’t try to intellectualise. Don’t try to name, or frame.

When you practice pure appreciation, what you’re actually practicing is switching off thoughts and just letting the actual sink in.

Colour. Sound. Shape. Peacefulness. Maybe even gratitude – a feeling of luck for having the senses to see this, to smell this, to feel whatever it is making you feel.


If you’re busy running commentary on an experience, it’s quite hard to connect with what you might really be feeling about it.


Try to discern the difference between creating a memory – feeling an experience – and creating a representation of it.

The world seems to encourage us to share everything these days, which is nice, but it never asks us to question the quality of what we’re sharing. The quality of our own experience in that moment.

Were we really there?

Were we really present?



This is a buzzword, and no mistake. But being present means that you are fully open to everything currently happening at the moment – not living in the future where you will recount it, not living in the past where you’re putting it into context with other things you’ve thought about or read about.

You have to experience this moment as if nothing else exists – and that’s not as tricky as it sounds. You just have to listen to your chattering brain and when you’re aware that you’ve removed yourself from where you are in order to hold some kind of discourse about it in another time, bring yourself back.


You don’t have to look for things which immediately line up with what you’re already thinking.

I notice this a lot when people choose books to read, or they skim read poems and say it’s not really ‘their thing’.

Someone who is present is not thinking ‘will I like it? Is this the kind of thing I enjoy?’ they take it for what it is. They take in the words, the images, they allow them to bloom, and they take them as an individual experience. They don’t go in with a purpose in mind and they don’t spend the experience curating a discourse about it for someone else’s benefit later.

Some of the most gratifying surprises come when people realise ‘I never would have chosen this, but…’


Little Page Turners.jpg

Photo from Little Page Turners


The art of slow

Language can be a throw-away commodity – we’re very used to using it that way. Cleverly summing up in 140 characters. Discerning very quickly from a brief overview if something is pertinent, relevant or re-postable.

Deep reading –whether this is reading words, or reading images, or reading a physical space in front of us, is not really the currency of our times.

But it’s very important to keep exercising the muscle of taking time over things.

We dismiss a lot quite quickly under the assumption that if it’s going to have meaning for us, it will occur immediately.

But that’s just not how our senses really work. Not all the valuable experiences in the world are instantaneous. Some things reveal their meaning after repeat viewing. Some things are complex and need to unfold. Some things need your patience – need you to be present for them when their time is just right.

But also, your deeper self needs space and time and slowness to really express itself.

Computers should probably work at lightning speed – because they’re just tools. But your deeper self doesn’t need to function like a tool, so why force it to? Why even expect it to? Is there a time limit on your ability to think and feel? Is someone keeping score?


joyful L1.jpg

Joyful L 1 by Peter Nottrott

Be expansive! Be greedy! Forget purpose and convenience and indulge, because nothing that can be done in a matter of seconds can really be worth very much. Seconds are disposable, until we add them up and realise we’ve wasted quite a lot of time with nothing to show for it…

Nourishing the soul – just like nourishing the body – is a constant, cumulative process.

The real beauty of it is, none of us will do it in the same way.

You don’t really know yourself until you get familiar with what lingers with you – what speaks to you – how you respond in a peaceful, creative way.


This Week’s Recipe: Getting Creative with a Familiar Ingredient:

Ribboned asparagus salad with avocado dressing

From The Guardian

Important: Debbie is selecting recipes with combinations of ingredients to inspire your cooking regimes, but while they are healthier choices in general, they will not address individual issues. You MUST make sure that all ingredients you use are compatible with your own individual medical conditions, medications, allergies and goals.


Serves 4

800g asparagus
1 cucumber
16 cherry tomatoes
100g flat-leaf parsley
20g parmesan, freshly grated

For the dressing
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ ripe avocado, stone removed
Salt and black pepper

1 Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Using a vegetable peeler and starting from the bottom end of the asparagus, shave upwards to create thin ribbons. Place all the ribbons in a large serving bowl.

2 Slice the cucumber lengthways and cut into bite-size pieces. Cut the tomatoes in half and coarsely chop the parsley. Add these to the bowl.

3 Place the dressing ingredients in a blender and blitz until creamy. Add a dash of oil or water if necessary. Dress and toss the salad so it’s evenly coated.

4 Top with parmesan shavings, then serve.

Recipe supplied by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl of and Green Kitchen, which was published in April 2013 is on offer at, priced £18.



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