There is beauty all around us, all the time, often when we least expect it, if we’re paying attention. The Greeks of the classical age spoke of how beauty, the creation and appreciation of which, was a value equal to Truth and Goodness. I’d like to propose another reason to ponder beauty as a value—the appreciation of beauty can be a mindfulness practice—a way of enriching and embedding our moments, heightening our awareness and training our attention: an antidote to the hyper-distractedness of our time. What is essential though is a broader understanding and embrace of what constitutes beauty….as a way of integrating attentive discernment, as a form of meditation in action.
Howard Gardner, a developmental psychologist at Harvard University, proposes three criteria for a new understanding of beauty for modern times. First, the object, or subject is INTERESTING. And since as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it simply has to be interesting to you. Second, it’s FORM is memorable…sufficiently powerful or evocative. This raises the bar a bit. …but still is subjective. Lastly, there is a desire to encounter the EXPERIENCE again, due to liking, curiosity or a feeling of awe. Again-suited to your personal taste. What’s missing here for me is some sense of universality–some criteria not based on personal taste or cultural differences. Is it possible to create some standard that we can all aspire to and integrate into our daily experience, as a way of centering ourselves, as a spiritual practice…as a way out of the perpetual visual clutter…as an antidote to all the distracting documentation of our every moment?
It’s about shifting the focus (pun intended). It’s about changing the way we use our devices. It’s about learning how to tune in rather than tune out. It’s about learning how to pay attention in different ways. It’s about learning how to have a ‘Good Eye’. Stay tuned….