Why is it so hard to just be where you, the moment that you're there? This past week, I was lucky enough to travel around Rome and Naples. Each time that I was looking at the art around me, in churches and museums others were taking pictures of the artifacts, sculptures or paintings and then walking away. I guess they were going to 'look' at the art when they got home through the filter of their camera lens.
When we have the opportunity to just pause and actually see what we have already seen in pictures, why is it so difficult to let that be enough?
Do we need proof that we were there? But if you're actually there, isn't that proof enough? When we get home and show off our proof, can we actually talk about what we saw? Can we describe the feeling of standing in front of Michelangelo sculpture? Can we portray in words the details of the drapery, the nuances in the underlying facial structures, the emotions behind the sculptor?
If we stand in front of something long enough and allow the moment of seeing something truly sink in, the 'proof' is in the focus and the discipline to be in each moment. Fully present in each moment. The reward is in stilling ourselves long enough to enjoy each breath, each feeling, each thought, each emotions for what it truly is and be okay with what comes up.
Looking at art is a meditation. The painter, sculpture and architect put all of their focus into the design and composition. It's almost as if that focus can be distilled into us as the viewer. True appreciation of others and their work should be our goal, just as the true teachings of meditation can come from true appreciation of each moment.
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in Italy, any country for that matter, or even at a museum in your town, pause and take stock of your thoughts. Are you actually looking at the art or looking at those around you wanting their appreciation of you 'appreciating' the art? In the meantime, try this meditation.
First, take your seat. This seat should be comfortable and upright (two middle pictures above illustrate some variations). Feel supported in your position but not rigid. Second, place your attention on your breath. Your breath should not be manipulated in any way. This is your opportunity to practice focusing on one thing; training your mind to not wander off. Third, when thoughts arise, without judgment, label them with a blanket statement of 'thoughts'. There is no one thought is better or worse than another, this label will keep equanimity amongst them. :) I suggest beginning with a 5 minute meditation practice.
If you want something a bit outside of the box, take a walking meditation or try a yin class!
*Above photos by Sergio Remon Alvarez. Pink tights and grey tank top by My Inner Fire. If you'd like 15% off their goods, use my code kirstent in the checkout!