Yoga and Aesthetic Experience
By Daniel Stringer
Have you ever stood before a great work of art or musical performance and been completely captured by its energy, mood or beauty? Lost in the moment of contemplation where even your own self merges with it. Or perhaps you’ve experienced the same as a creator of such art after a long inspired process delving deeply into yourself and your surroundings. The aesthetic experience has been described as a dis-interested or desireless state of mind during contemplation of an artwork or even natural phenomena. A pure, natural intrinsically good spontaneously occuring state of being. I can personally attest to this from my own experience.
Meditation often begins with observation of gross elements such as bodily sensations leading towards subtle elements of breath, feelings, mental formations and further still into emptiness or formlessness. In the same way a painter might start with an immediately observed object or her own image before delving deeper into emotions and feelings towards total abstraction and minimal form. Unfolding layers of being arriving at the source or essence of experience and knowledge. Similarities continue as both painter and yogi must practice continually with dedication over many years and ultimately surrender to a greater purpose or cause.
These processes also allows us to remain in touch with our context and ultimate purpose in this life. Discovering and integrating body, breath, mind and the spirit present all around us as one complete creation. Our full potential as human beings includes our expressive and creative abilities. Pursuing a spiritual life doesn’t require a permanent retraction inside oneself. There is always something to share from our unique experiences.
If you ever feel lost or lacking inspiration or purpose in your yoga practice then perhaps you need to take another perspective. There are many ways to connect with yourself and your context or the space within and around you. The journeys and discoveries of creative expressive people can ignite or complement a spiritual practice.