the viewpoint, the waves glistened in the morning sun as it rose over
the forested hills. The fog hung over the beach so that each ridge on
the rocky coast was highlighted in silhouette. A tourist approached and
said, “It doesn’t get any more beautiful than that.”
Then he took his snapshot and left in a matter of seconds.
was fortunate that he had the opportunity to view such a lovely sight
and that he could appreciate it for what it was, but how much more
might he have enjoyed it had he spent a few minutes really seeing it.
see beauty differently. Some people get all excited in autumn when the
trees turn colors. They plan trips to see the colorful leaves. Others
scarcely notice. The color and form of a bouquet of flowers fills one
person with emotion and another just wonders how much it cost. A
painting or sculpture can capture some people, and others are left
unmoved. We may rush through a museum taking in as much as we can, as
if we were in a contest, or we may skip the whole thing because it just
probably accounts for some of the difference in how we perceive beauty.
Colors look brighter to some people than to others for instance. And if
we weren’t exposed to a variety of sights and sounds as babies,
our brains may not have developed sensitivity to them. As we grow up
our parents and teachers either show enthusiasm for things, or they
don’t, and we learn and form habits about what is worth attending
to. If cooking was drudgery to mom, the child may grow up to be unmoved
by a beautifully presented plate of food. If dad focused all his
attention on caring for his prize roses, at the expense of parenting,
the child may not see the beauty of roses, but may feel aversion to
us perceives beauty differently, and we have it in our power to expand
the field and depth of our perception. Our brains respond to what we do
with it and where we focus our attention. Just because we are a few
dopamine receptors short, doesn’t mean we can’t grow some
more. Our capacities to experience beauty, as well as to have pleasure,
humor and fun grow with use.
experience beauty, we must be receptive to it. What if we expected it
to be all around us? What if we could see the beauty in a mold pattern
on a wall or in the rust pattern on the street?
assess your receptivity to experiences of beauty. Compare yourself to
other people in this regard. Do you know people or know of people who
seem to see beauty where you miss it? Do you think of yourself as
artistic? If you don’t, you may have cut yourself off from the
act of perceiving that is central to art. One doesn’t have to
produce art to be able to appreciate it or to see beauty elsewhere.
Think about what is beautiful to you. Make a list. Do this with a friend and compare your lists.
the intention to open your mind to the experience of beauty. We
don’t perceive beauty unless we are receptive to it. It is always
around us, we need to just open our eyes with real seeing.
down and use your senses. Beauty is not just visual. Beauty may
be found through any of the senses. Take your time to apprehend that
which just might give delight if fully perceived.
upon something that appeals to you as beautiful. It might be flower or
a piece of pottery, or maybe a scenic view. Gaze at it. Take it all in.
Let it fill you up. Relax into that appreciative state that is
perception of beauty. Just have the experience.
Notice what happens in your heart when you experience beauty. What happens in the rest of your body?
when you are having that experience of appreciating beauty, observe
your own state. What does this feel like. What are you doing, or not
doing when in such as state? What did you have to give up to get there?
What did you have to give?
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© 2008 Tom Barrett