HomeArticleHow To Practice Beauty Mindfulness

How To Practice Beauty Mindfulness

Another way you can train your operating system to unplug from from its habitual relationship with mental narrative (and thus its habitual relationship with the narratives of establishment propaganda and other power-serving cultural mind viruses) is to simply make a habit of constantly looking for opportunities to experience beauty. It also happens to make life exponentially more enjoyable.

Beauty is secretly just a word we use for the experience of truly having seen something. There are places that society has designated as Authorized Beauty Experiencing Zones, like art, conventionally attractive human bodies, flowers, sunsets etc, but it’s actually possible to have the “Whoah! That!” experience of beauty in everything which shows up in your field of perception. It’s just a matter of learning to make space for that experience in the crowded cacophony of the labeling, dividing mind.

You can begin creating this space by deliberately making a constant practice of seeking out opportunities to experience beauty. Like a novice weightlifter, at first this will mean starting with things that are easy for you; in the beginning of this practice, you will likely be mostly noticing things that you have already learned to appreciate as beautiful. Art and music you already like, faces you already find beautiful, aspects of nature you’ve already cultivated an appreciation for, etc.

But, just as with weightlifting, the apparatus for appreciating beauty is something you can strengthen with training. Making a constant practice of watching for opportunities to appreciate beauty will see your beauty appreciation apparatus opening more and more often. You will learn to find beauty in the most unexpected places; in fast food wrappers on the freeway, in the conversation between strangers on the bus, in the lines and hairs on the back of your hand, in an old dead tree, in pigeons on the sidewalk, in an old memory resurfacing in your consciousness, in the faces of people you pass on the street, in sadness, in heartbreak, in depression, even in the confused, flashing frenzy on the television screen.

Keep strengthening your beauty appreciation apparatus and it will drastically change your relationship with your sensory field, with your mind, and with your consciousness. Rather than having your interest and attention immersed in the churning babble of the labeling, dividing mind, your interest and attention begins moving to the sheer gorgeousness of everything that appears in your field of awareness; sensory input, thoughts, feelings, and the experience of being alive itself. Eventually you become so skillful at appreciating beauty that you can spot it in the crackling aliveness of your body just lying in bed, and even in your field of consciousness itself.

This shift in interest and attention makes life vastly more enjoyable, but it also sucks you out of your habitual relationship with mental narrative. Thoughts take on a kind of weightlessness as the beauty of their appearance becomes far more interesting than belief in their content. This necessarily changes your habitual relationship with the thoughts which have been deliberately implanted in your head by your parents, your education system, and the mass media, and all the propaganda and power-serving cultural mind viruses which comes with it.

The reason people who meditate, practice self-enquiry, or use entheogens so often find themselves objecting to the status quo of their society is because when you learn to see the status quo as if for the first time, it is self-evidently unnatural and awful. The only thing which makes it seem acceptable is the fact that we have been conditioned to think of it as normal. It has been normalized, and if you turn on the TV you’ll see a bunch of talking heads helping that normalization along by acting like political third parties aren’t a thing, by acting like war isn’t inherently horrific, by ignoring vast wealth and income inequality, etc. Against the canvas of a perspective which isn’t wrapped up in that normalization, the pervasive evils of the status quo and the narratives meant to facilitate them stick out like a black fly against a white sheet of paper, and you aren’t sucked in by the lies.

Beauty mindfulness is a highly effective method for stepping into such a relationship with narrative. Learn to be astonished by life and see it as if for the first time, and you will find yourself ceasing to take things for granted, both the good and the bad.

It is possible to step outside the mental funnels which have been created to streamline you into consenting to a status quo of death and servitude, and into a relationship with mind which allows life to express itself on its own terms. From there, it’s far easier to effectively attack the narrative matrix which is exploiting and abusing your fellow man and driving us all toward dystopia and extinction.

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Latest comments

  • While this may be an individual journey, noticing things to like, we can also share with friends and family, and find unexpected wonders when spending time with a child.

    Kids operate on a different kind of time so at first it’s hard not to think, ‘I have a half hour to walk with the granddaughter, and then I need to …’, but just relax, breathe, and see what they see. I learned about the amazing Cinnabar moth from my granddaughter. We found the exact weed they eat, how they spend the winter, etc. I’d thought it was just a pretty butterfly! Anyway, spend time with kids because they have a natural wonder at all sorts of things.

  • Beauty! Thank you Caitlin for another delightful “poem” to heal the souls of this world. I do not know where your wisdom arises from but your words are so often deeply transformative for me. Ha! I just got tossed a chocolate from upstairs… yum. I open up to the beauty of life and love the moment.

  • Thanks for this great post, Caitlin! I think I can use this an antidote to my natural negativity bias – very effectively

  • Just one addition concerning ‘mind viruses’ that have been ‘implanted in you’. You *are* a big collection of interconnected mind viruses (or memes, if you prefer), assorted habits, mental images and sensations, all of which, taken separately, are also found in other people. What is unique to ‘you’ is just the precise combination of these elements, which, while influenced by a certain logic, is also, to a great extent, a matter of accident. You *have* no ‘true self’ besides that. These elements have existed before ‘you’ existed and will exist after ‘you’ cease to exist. Some of them are more valuable and beneficial (i.e. more conducive to the wellbeing and development of living beings) than others – do try to spread and promote them, as much as you can; apart from that, don’t take your ‘self’ all too seriously!

    • OK, to avoid a rhetorical exaggeration – the ‘implanted’/’contracted’ idea complexes do combine and interact within each individual in more or less unique ways, resulting in idea complexes which are always at least subtly unique, sometimes relatively original, and some of which are, again, more beneficial than others – hence worthy of spreading.

  • As usual in the comments under posts about spirituality, I’ll be the boring, party-spoiling teatotaler in the conversation. Here is the way I see things. Objectively, our tendency to like things (and see beauty in them) has developed and persisted as a survival mechanism: we tend to like things that are good for our survival. Our ability to like things *is*, in fact, limited by their nature – that’s the only reason why suffering exists, and why there is, subjectively, a difference between good and evil at all. These limitations can be weakened by drugs or other tricks, but such effects are temporary, superficial and external to what we are justified in perceiving as our ‘true nature’. In this sense, liking *everything*, while pleasurable by definition, is pointless as well as, in the long run, unsustainable. Obviously, liking everything and seeing beauty in it is incompatible with ‘objecting to the status quo’, too, because the status quo is part of everything.
    .
    The notion that rejecting the thoughts ‘implanted’ in your head is a good thing is premised on the unjustified notion that these thoughts are necessarily bad and wrong, and the thoughts that might replace them are necessarily good and correct. A general slighting attitude to thoughts is not likely to result in replacing bad thoughts with good ones, but rather to general indifference and even cynicism. A human is a social being: *all* thoughts are either ‘implanted in your head’ and ‘mind viruses’ contracted from other humans, or else they are the original product of the combination and interaction of such ‘mind viruses’. This does not by itself make them bad.
    .
    I don’t know that people who meditate and use entheogens more commonly find themselves objecting to the status quo – meditation, entheogens and other contercultural ‘hippie stuff’ has been easily incorporated into the capitalist mainstream (as parts of ‘hipsterdom’) and is nowadays often combined with fairly conventional or vague political views. I certainly don’t expect the average US marijuana user or yoga practitioner to be an anti-imperialist, or even to be particularly interested in foreign policy at all. In my own country, marijuana use and especially yoga are associated with the affluent upper-middle class and are hence, if anything, more likely to co-occur with right-wing, pro-US-empire views. Furthermore, not all objections to the status quo are good. In addition, even if there is still some correlation here, it is not clear what the direction of causation is: people who, for whatever reason, feel that they don’t fit in and hence have a negative attitude to the ‘status quo’, broadly understood – may be more inclined to experiment with entheogens, mysticism and New Age practices as an escape mechanism.
    .
    Certainly, one should be open-minded and question everything – but one should do that by assessing everything rationally. ‘Life expressing itself on its own terms’, somehow independent of the mind, is, IMO, likely to mean, in practice, ‘I think so cuz I like it that way’ and ‘I say so cuz I like it that way’. And what you like is not necessarily good – your parents were right about that at least, like it or not.

    • Quite right. Was going to say something similar, but you said it all.

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder …….

  • What a great article! I loved this line about thoughts: the beauty of their appearance becomes far more interesting than belief in their content. The very existence of consciousness! I haven’t had TV since 2009.

  • Caitlin, ONE OF YOUR BEST POSTS EVER! Been practicing this for years!
    Be surprised by beauty in unexpected places at my website:
    https://www.reverbnation.com/amazingamycontortionistuniqueyogadancer

  • I am reminded of Steve Irwin, who used to show people the creepiest, scaliest, ugliest animals, and say the same thing he did for the cute fluffy animals, “What a beauty!” I think it was his special gift, to get people to feel his enthusiasm, and see beauty the way he did.

    • Crikey, you’re right, Minecritter. And I miss Steve and his amazing positiveness.
      Caitlin, thanks for taking us down this road. We do need a change of pace, esp here in the MAGA continent.

  • Great advice. A loooong time ago (i’m not young) I stopped watching TV because I didn’t want that subtle but pervasive way of scripted talking and thinking seeping in and fukkin with my own way of talking and seeing and thinking, which is, no doubt, already scripted/patterned enough.

  • Best advice I’ve heard in a long time.

    • Yes, Caitlin is usually right!

    • Yes, Caitlin is usually right, and objective, and positive. Many thanks for that.

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