The restorative effects of beauty are far-reaching. Beauty in any form is regenerative, healing, and fortifying. I was reminded of that this morning when my husband and I took our three dogs for a walk at 5:30 am. In that not-quite-awake stupor, we ambled down our windy, mountain road, the crunching of the gravel beneath our feet seemed deafening in the quiet stillness of the morning. In that sleepy, theta-brainwave peacefulness, the beauty of the moment seemed amplified. My mind’s drill sergeant, the one who barks all kinds of orders at me to organize my work day as productively as possible, was clearly not awake yet. It was meditative, purely and simply.
If I had to pick one issue that comes up over and over in my work, and seems to nip at my clients’ heels like a bossy little dog, it would be that they are never satisfied with their level of meditation. I used to struggle with this as well. I’m not doing it right… This is not what I had in mind… It’s not working…! The barrage of self-criticism can seem never-ending, the result of which is increased frustration, not deliverance from it.
I have come to believe that our form of meditation picks us. It finds us naturally, settling in comfortably and non-invasively if our minds will only allow it. I have learned to simply step aside and see what’s happening in my moments of stillness. (I’m a contemplative, so I have lots of those.) What I found was that rather than agonize through Vipassana or some other form of mind-stilling meditation, I could simply sit with the birds in the morning, which is something I instinctively do. When I wake up with the birds, I completely disappear into my landscape. Formless and free, I meditate. No wrestling required. My mind peacefully submits to the avian backdrop. For others, Vipassana may be their perfect instinct.
One of my favorite authors is psychosynthesis psychotherapist, Piero Ferrucci. He writes in his excellent book, What We May Be,
“We have a choice. Seeking beauty becomes in great part our responsibility. We can be exposed to what Roberto Assagioli called psychic smog – the prevailing mass of free-floating psychological poisons- or turn instead to the healing influence of beautiful sights and sounds.”
I was reminded of this as I strolled down my windy road at the quiet crack of dawn. Untethering my mind to find the beauty in my day is my responsibility. No forcing required. My spirit knows the way.