Give Your Mood a Beauty Boost

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Being attentive to something beautiful, and giving sincere appreciation for it, is an especially powerful way to practice mindfulness.

Appreciation puts us in a non-judgmental and receptive frame of mind, opening us to the uplifting and inspiring effects of beauty.

During difficult days when your mood is funky or you feel restless, being purposely attentive to lovely objects of art is a calming, restorative activity. Fortunately, despite the missteps made by human kind, we have created a huge store of artistic beauty that all of us can tap into and enjoy.

Four Simple Ways to Be with Beauty

  1. Sit comfortably and slowly page through a book of nature or landscape photography or photographs of gorgeous gardens. Thumb through photo books of cathedrals, birds, rivers, prairies or people. There is so much majesty in the world to soak in and savor.
  2. Listen to mesmerizing instrumental music that carries you along on its harmonies without defining life. Lyric-less music helps us empty the mind and relax into the sublime sounds that tickle our senses and help us heal from negativity.
  3. Let your attention rest on a pleasing sculpture or other object in your home. Caress it with your eyes. Pick it up and enjoy the item’s texture, its weight, angles and curves.
  4. Feast your eyes on poignant paintings by visiting local museums, surfing the pages of an art book, or stopping by an artist’s website or online museum. Let your thoughts go and treat yourself to the familiar or foreign wordless worlds rendered through an artist’s tool of choice.

Beauty and the Brain

Although people have their own opinions about what is beautiful, it seems that all human brains react the same way to those things considered beautiful – or things considered ugly. This was revealed in a study done by Semir Zeki at the University College of London. Zeki showed paintings to a group of individuals who naturally had different ideas about which ones were lovely and which were not.

When individuals where shown paintings that they earlier classified as being beautiful, their brains indicated increased activity in the orbito-frontal cortex region. This part of our brain is associated with emotion and reward. When the same individuals looked at paintings that they earlier had labeled ugly, the motor cortex area of their brain fired-up, implying that the brain wanted to escape the experience.

So whatever you consider beautiful will cause a positive response in your brain’s emotion and reward center. Enjoy!

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness." ~ John Keats

Source for research study: Seed Magazine

 
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