Every human shape, color, and gender
Came forth from the will of a tender power
When the heart’s eye is seeing a person truly —

We then appreciate each being as one of beauty.

Spring cleansing for the soul begins this Valentine’s month with making awareness of the many ways we create maladies through distorted vision. Along with being the month for romantic lovers, February hosts Ethnic Equality, Black History and Eating Disorder Awareness and is followed by International Women’s Day emphasizing gender equality in early March.

Biases, whether based on skin color, body shapes, genders or other factors, are the deep root of personal and social problems. Preconceptions act like distorted eye glasses giving us a false perception of what we have in front of us: a person, a group, or our own self image. We can miss out on a meaningful personal relationship or can feed hostility towards self and others.

Lover relationships can be ruined by beliefs that “all men think this” or “all women do that.” Friendships are aborted by preconceptions. Fake images inspire harmful behavior. Viewing the world from the images the mind fabricates can cause real damage, if not countered by the vision of the heart’s eye.

One example of false perception is the fatal disease of eating disorders. Preschoolers to adults develop self-destructive behavior from distorted body and self-image. Many people “had no idea that the perfect images I see every day are digital illusions,” National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) elaborates.

“Once Kate Moss posed for Calvin Klein, there was a new trend where all models selected to look like her, with their bones sticking out. To be thin enough, models had to be anorexic,” explains Adi Barkan, fashion photographer, modeling agent and founder of “Simply You — Monitoring Body Image Perception,” an organization focused on ending distorted body image.

Failing to see one’s natural beauty is hijacked by images and messages that fill our minds. “Ninety percent of beauty is between the ears. It’s an inside job,” says Retha Powers in Dark Girls. The intellectual mind can be cruel in interpreting our value according to skin tone, body shape and gender.

The mind can be filled with “thought terrorists” that reframe natural images into “not good enough,” “bad” or “evil” — thus turning us against our selves and others. In contrast, the heart’s eye perceives the natural splendor of each person.

How to strengthen your heart’s eye:

1. Fast from preconceptions.
Observe with innocent awe, as when you were an infant. Allow yourself to feel ignorant — humble. Ask questions. By doing so you keep an open space to learn truth. When your mind is filled with preconceptions there is “no room at the inn” for real understanding.

2. Use your intellect to serve your heart, not harm it.
Keep your heart’s desire first. You may need to meditate in stillness to recapture the light, truth and hope within your heart to know its desire. Once you see it, keep that vision as your focus, and use your intellect to deal with the current situation while maintaining the direction towards fulfilling your heart’s desire.

3. Appreciate and value everything as an expression of love.
Face it — you do not know everything about love. Each situation is an opportunity to expand your knowledge, because true knowing comes from having lived it. Use the wisest words of truth that you can find to guide you through each situation. Then you will know a greater love.

As the love messages of Valentines arrive, develop true sight by strengthening the heart’s eye. See with compassion, respect and beauty. The spring-cleaning of soul starts with keen sight. With a strong heart’s eye we can see our beauty, know ourselves and live joyfully.