What's the Takeaway from "Art & Soul"?
If there’s anything that I would like people to take away from “Art & Soul,” it is an experience of stepping out of the realm of the material, with all its apparent conflicts, contradictions and confusion, and getting a taste of a higher state of consciousness. Why? Because not only does it feel good in the moment, but more importantly, this place is nothing extraordinary.. It is our natural state.. So these poems, prayers and paintings are simply pointing us back to the truth of ourselves, to the peace, joy, love and wisdom that is our essence..
If you’re anything like me, once you get a taste of it, you will probably want to revisit it again and again.. What’s the best way to do that? By becoming still and turning your awareness -- which is usually focused on the outer world -- inside.. In so doing, you will discover what really drives your engine.
So what are you likely to find in there? First you might notice aches and pains in your body.. That’s good..
“Really,” you say, “that’s good?” Yes, it’s good because you have no doubt been ignoring these places. The aches and pains are the body’s way of trying to get your attention, to tell you, “Hey, I’m been overworked, or used improperly.” It’s not necessary to figure out what’s wrong, though sometimes it can be helpful to label the feelings, give words to them such as “itching,” “stinging” or “numbness,." Doing that can help you to stop identifying with the experience, to realize that it is just a sensation, but it’s not you. The best news is that the simple act of paying attention can, in and of itself be healing. Take one sensation at a time and hold it in kind, loving awareness. What you will most likely find is that the places of discomfort will begin to calm down and dissipate..
Another thing you will likely discover when you slow down and focus inward is that your mind is very active.. You will no doubt experience a running discourse on everything from how boring it is to be sitting and doing nothing to, “Why did Barbara look at me that way?”, to how pissed off you are at your boss for something he/she did or didn’t do, to how much you like that new TV show you watched last night.. It’s endless.. And that’s OK.. That’s the nature of mind. Just notice what it’s doing, perhaps label the thoughts, and watch them go by.. If nothing else, you will notice what preoccupies you. Eventually, you may begin to have the recognition that, as with the aches and pains, all those thoughts are just passing phenomena. They are not you. And, if you stay with it, after a while what you will begin to notice is that the thoughts will slow down.. If nothing else, you will end your session feeling more relaxed and refreshed..
If you are persistent (and fortunate) maybe the thoughts will stop altogether. Believe it or not, rather than being boring, that’s when the good stuff really begins.. In that “no thingness” of the thought-free state you will discover a sense of Presence.. There is a void, an emptiness of content, but it is filled with something that cannot really be described.. If we try to put words to it they are inadequate, but we come up with things like peace, joy, bliss, awe.. For me, most times it’s a blackness filled with points of light that is similar to looking at the night sky.. It’s like I have tumbled into spaciousness as vast as the cosmos, a vastness filled with love.. Resting there rejuvenates body and soul and likewise has the side effect of seemingly softening the contours of your waking life.. You have more resources to meet challenges and ironically there seem to be fewer challenges. It’s not a bad return on a small investment of your time..