Attuning to Beauty

“We each have a sixth sense that is attuned to the oneness dimension in life, providing a means for us to guide our lives in accord with our ideas” -Henry Reed

The word attune means to bring into harmony (a word often associated with beauty) or to make aware or responsive. This attunement is to inspire a sense of harmony, awareness and receptiveness with beauty.

The following could be read aloud to you, allowing for pauses between each direction or question. Some people record attunements for easy playback. Or, you may simply read the questions, to help you have a self-guided session.

Begin by making yourself physically comfortable in a seated or lying down position and allowing your breath to come to a restful place. Perhaps close your eyes, or leave your eyes open with a soft focus, as you bring your awareness inside.

Maybe there is something that needs attention before you can even consider the topic of beauty. If so, take time to acknowledge this issue or place inside you. If you need to attend to this now, please do so, and bring your attention back to this attunement when and if there is something in it for you. Or perhaps you may place the issue aside, just for now, to return to after the attunement, when you may find a fresh sense of it.

And now, if it feels right inside, I invite you to encourage an open tone and attitude inside yourself, and allow for some sense of curiosity about this whole thing about beauty.

Notice a sense of the room around you, and what this brings for you inside. Is there something beautiful about being in this room…anything at all?

Perhaps you have a sense of nature somewhere outside or inside…there may be a something of the season, or the weather, even as you are in this room. Notice something naturally beautiful here, in this moment in time.

I invite you to sense into all or any of the following questions, as you continue bringing your awareness in towards your sense of experience. Slowing down, as you bring your awareness inside to whatever is here for you about beauty:

What of our whole earth and the natural world touches you as being beautiful?

What artistic expression is beautiful?

What moral virtues and values are beautiful?

What beauty have you experienced in relation to others?

Is there something beautiful for you in social actions and citizenship?

What have you experienced of the spiritual, immaterial, transcendent?

What qualities of the people you love are beautiful?

What of these qualities and things are aspects are within you too?

What of you is beautiful?

Is there a sense of there being “more” here about beauty? If so, what is something about this “more”?

Is there some way you want to know, experience, or reflect beauty in your life?

What of this very moment is beautiful?

If there is something in the way of words that you want to come away from this attunement with, see if you can find a word or two or sentence that resonates with your sense of what beauty means to you now.

Taking your time, if it is there, notice where in your body you most have a sense of the meaning of beauty, so you may find and return to this place again.

Gently bring your awareness back to the room.

Photographic Image: Stony Point Woods © Robin Kappy 11/2011

“Free Diver” (Oil Painting) © Marissa Bridge 2011

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Poetry and Quotes

“We can think of our linguistic and situational knowledge not as separate and floating, but as elaborations of our already intricate plant-bodies. In this way we can think how the living body knows (feels, lives, is …..) its situation from inside. But what is a situation? A situation is never just something external.” -Eugene Gendlin

turtles 0n a log
soaking up all the last rays
of October sun

opening my eyes
a bar of autumn sunlight
on the closet door

-Haiku Poems by Susan Rudnick

“Try To Praise The Mutilated World”

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees heading nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the grey feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

-Adam Zagajewski
Translated by Renata Gorczynski

“Some of us have a hard time believing that we are actually able to finally allow ourselves to feel the depth of that sadness and gently let it break our hearts, we may come to feel a great freedom, a genuine sense of release and peace, because we have finally stopped running away from ourselves and from the pain that lives within us.”
— Wayne Muller (Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood)

“The tea ritual: such a precise repetition of the same gestures and the same tastes; accession to simple, authentic and refined sensations, a license given to all, at little cost, to become aristocrats of taste, because tea is the beverage of the wealthy and the poor; the tea ritual, therefore, has the extraordinary virtue of introducing into the absurdity of our lives an aperture of serene harmony. Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us. Then let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light. And, with each swallow, time is sublimed.” -Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog)

Some say an army on horseback,
some say on foot, and some say ships,
are the most beautiful things
on this black earth, but I say
it is whatever you love.
— Sappho (Translated by Stanley Lombardo)

“You hear the sound of water
and you know where you want to be.
Why wait?…Water says, “Live here.”
— Rumi

“Sometimes it takes just a bit of a sparkle of gold or a little bit of silver to kind of reveal that once this was golden.” -Hermes Knauer (Art Restorer at the Metropolitan Museum)

“My belief is in the blood and flesh as being wiser than the intellect.  The body-conscious is where life bubbles up in us.  It is how we know we are alive, alive to the depths of our souls, and in touch somewhere with the vivid reaches of the cosmos.”     — D. H. Lawrence

“Much that is said about beauty and its importance in our lives ignores the minimal beauty of an unpretentious street, a nice pair of shoes or a tasteful piece of wrapping paper, as though those things belonged to a different order of value from a church by Bramante or a Shakespeare sonnet. Yet these minimal beauties are far more important to our daily lives, and far more intricately involved in our own rational decisions, than the great works of art which (if we are lucky) occupy our leisure hours. They are part of the context in which we live our lives, and our desire for harmony, fittingness and civility is both expressed and confirmed in them. Moreover, the great works of architecture often depend for their beauty on the humble context that these lesser beauties provide.” -Roger Scruton

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”— Rumi

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
― Rumi

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all Time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine: how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” -Martha Graham

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. It is not for unsteady souls.” -Merce Cunningham

“Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful…How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural–you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“When we live without listening to the timing of things, when we live and work in twenty-four-hour shifts without rest – we are on war time, mobilized for battle. Yes, we are strong and capable people, we can work without stopping, faster and faster, electric lights making artificial day so the whole machine can labor without ceasing. But remember: No living thing lives like this. There are greater rhythms, seasons and hormonal cycles and sunsets and moonrises and great movements of seas and stars. We are part of the creation story, subject to all its laws and rhythms.”
— Wayne Muller (Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives)

“If busyness can become a kind of violence, we do not have to stretch our perception very far to see that Sabbath time – effortless, nourishing rest – can invite a healing of this violence. When we consecrate a time to listen to the still, small voices, we remember the root of inner wisdom that makes work fruitful. We remember from where we are most deeply nourished, and see more clearly the shape and texture of the people and things before us.”
— Wayne Muller (Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives)

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

-Pablo Neruda

Roscoe Woods (Oil Painting) © Robin Kappy 11/2011

Autumn Bowl (Oil Painting) © Stormy Brandenberger 11/2011

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Art Teachers and Psychotherapists

“We as artists have the ability to show the beauty in the mundane.” – Camille Przewodek

“Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision. It is the seeing of the thing that makes it so.” – Charles W. Hawthorne

“Seeing while drawing is the awareness and development of a whole experience at once and its representation as a unified whole. Students must be aware of the variety of changes and moments that influence their drawing over time. The selective process that gives meaning and expression to a drawing influences our skills as painters.” -Steven Assael, Artist and Teacher

“One of the functions of art is to remind us of common humanity. The artist, like the priest, can sometimes remind us that we are bound by an obligation to one another stronger and more lasting than the bonds of politics or economics.” – John Manchip White

An art teacher may see, know and show a way towards a deeper experience of beauty of and in art. He/she may also bring a greater capacity to experience the of beauty oneself. Has an art teacher or other person inspired you in this way?

A psychotherapist may see, know and show a way towards a deeper experience of beauty of and in a person. He/she may also bring a greater capacity to experience the beauty of art, artful things and meaningful interactions. Has a psychotherapist or other person inspired you in this way?

As a child and young adult I loved to draw. In the 1970’s This led me to Parsons School of Design and a career as a commercial artist. It was a successful career. However, I wanted to use myself to help people, more than I wanted to use my skills as a commercial artist.

Leaving my involvement with art behind, I went on to social work school and to my deeply satisfying career as a psychotherapist. And still…the “artist-in-me” kept calling my name. I returned to my interest in art several years ago, beginning with classes at the New York Academy of Art. I draw almost every day now, if only for a few minutes. It is my way of observing the world around me, finding something beautiful there, and expressing my experience. I love honing my skills and watching what develops as I observe, experience and draw. My passion for drawing and painting still surprises me: it is constant, enduring and a source of connection with beauty that nurtures me in every way.

When young, there was a gleam I longed for in the eyes of my family when they looked at me or my drawings. I needed a reflection of the beauty of my being, values, talents and virtues to encourage me as a creative, passionate, compassionate, vulnerable person. My art teachers have gleams in their eyes when they see beautiful art and growth in their students. When their gleam is directed towards something beautiful in my work it further teaches, inspires and heals me.

Photographic Image: Art Teacher at the Met © Robin Kappy 11/2011

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Types of Beauty

“Beauty feeds the soul, wakens it, and brings it to life as nothing else can. Beauty is a deep-seated reaction to some meaningful and stunning presentation of life. All your senses and your full imagination have to be alert when beauty makes its appearance. If you miss it, it is like going without food.” -Thomas Moore

“It seems to makes sense that those who are able to place themselves compassionately in another’s shoes may experience the moral emotion of elevation through the appreciation of the beauty of the moral actions and virtues of others.” -Haidt

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all.
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
-John Keats (in “Ode on a Grecian Urn”)

Beauty in art is said to possess certain qualities: animation, nature, pattern, simplicity, symmetry, transformation, selection. spontaneity, surprise, surroundings, unity… Are such qualities found in every variety of beauty?:

Natural Beauty: Known in nature and in our bodies. In what ways do you experience natural beauty?

Artistic Beauty: Known in artistic and well-done actions, interactions, expressions and things. In what ways do you experience artistic beauty?

Moral Beauty: Known in human virtues, values, interactions and actions. In what ways do you experience moral beauty?

Playful Beauty: Playful delight in solitude and with others. In what ways do you experience playful beauty?

Relational Beauty: Known in nurturing relationships with others. In what ways do you experience relational beauty?

Social Beauty: Known in well-done social actions and citizenship. In what ways do you experience social beauty?

Spiritual Beauty: Known in  immaterial and transcendent experience. In what ways do you experience spiritual beauty?

Ascension (Painting) © Janet Pfunder 11/2011

Sagamore Afternoon (Oil Painting) © Robin Kappy, LCSW 11/2011

Photographic Image “Beau Flying” © Raw Q (Anonymous Photographer) 2011

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Relational Beauty

“The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty, and truth. ” – Albert Einstein

Philosopher Eugene Gendlin states that we are not just engaged in interaction; we are “interaction.”  Bill Cunningham says “If you seek beauty you will find it.” I am seeking and finding beauty in interaction, including the more difficult states of interaction, when something ruptured is in a process of being repaired. In moments of “beauty-in-interaction,” we are most nurtured and connected in our interactions with others and nature.

Still, we sometimes experience hurtful, alienating moments, and beauty is deeply hidden from view. When we find ourselves in terrible situations, our feelings and experience must be attended to before anything else. Only then, often when another person helps us through, we may see beauty again. In relation to terrible situations and events, experiencing something beautiful is like finding water in a hot, dry dessert, or a light in a deep, dark closet. We need it to go on.

When a sense of relational-beauty is lost to us, we need more connection to thrive again. In a way similar to how oxygen nurtures our living-physical bodies, relational beauty nurtures our alive-human-beingness. When beauty-in-interaction meets our relational needs, we are more ready to move through to the next moment.

As people gathered for the “Beauty and Psychotherapy” workshop, I asked what brought them. A few people I knew and several I did not know well said that I had brought them; they had some sense of me and wanted to experience what I had to offer them. It was as if they were saying: “You are valuable, interesting and smart.” The participants reflected what they saw in me as just as I was wanting to give them the best of what I have. I was very touched; a glow of light illuminated something in me, allowing me to sense myself as beautiful. I wanted the participants to come away with a similar experience.

Simply being heard or welcomed by another person may bring a wonderful sense of  inclusion and connection. Perhaps it is the reflection of something beautiful inside of us that brings such a sense of being seen, present and alive.

What moments of “relational beauty” have touched you?

John and Mary (Oil Painting) © Janet Fish 11/2011

Portraits of Friends and Strangers (Pencil Drawings on Paper) © Robin Kappy 11/2011

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