Tuesday, November 8, 2011
The Healing Power of Beauty
Say you catch a cold. Once you realize what's happening, you treat the cold in whatever way you are accustomed, or according to your beliefs (as all medicine is faith based). When you're well, or, for many people, when you're almost well, you go back to work, after cleaning up the kleenexes and magazines scattered around your house. Back to the grind.
I think people miss a step in healing when they skip the last moments of sickness in order to get back to their usual routines. There's a lull at the end of every illness at which time the aches and pains have been vanquished, but the body is still in the process of return. The fleeting, fragile state of post-illness is one in which we are more vulnerable than usual. In this state, we're more open than usual, we take in the world at a very deep level. Just as during the first few moments after waking in the morning, we're a bit tenuous, slightly disoriented, neither here nor there.
Consciously encountering beauty at that time is strengthening, encouraging, and cultivates all the best things about being a human. At the tail end of an illness, its effect is potent in the best way possible.
What I mean by beauty is: go out and walk around if the day is gorgeous, look at the sky, smell the air. Or go to a museum, gaze only at the most beautiful paintings (leave the provocative art for another day). Or switch on your favorite, most beautiful music. Read poetry, or do all of the above.
You don't have to go on and on; one afternoon in a museum is enough to infuse your fragile energy body with the healing power of beauty. Encountering beauty brings everything back into balance. The next time you get sick, give this a try. The routines of work and mundane life will still be there waiting for you afterwards, perhaps stacked even a little higher because you took the extra time, but you will be far better prepared to take on the world with good cheer if you wrap up the loose ends of sickness with beauty. Yes? I say yes.
Take in some beauty today even if you haven't been recently sick, OK? Shalom.