Massage and Meditation: The Necessity of Beauty

Meditation and Massage allow us the “vacation” and “vocation” to be affected by and to affect the beauty which lies within each person.  Here is a wonderful passage excerpted from Thomas Moore’s book, Care of the Soul.

“Beauty assists the soul in its own peculiar ways of being. For example, beauty is arresting. For the soul, it is important to be taken out of the rush of practical life for the contemplation of timeless and eternal realities. Tradition names this need of the soul “vacatio” – a vacation from ordinary activity in favor of a moment of reflection and wonder. You may find yourself driving along a highway when you suddenly pass a vista that catches your breath. You stop the car, get out for just a few minutes, and behold the grandeur of nature. This is the arresting power of beauty.  Giving in to that sudden longing of the soul is a way of giving it what it needs.

Discussions of beauty can sometimes sound ethereal and philosophical, but from the soul viewpoint, beauty is a necessary part of ordinary life. Every day we find moments when the soul glimpses an occasion for beauty, if only passing a store window and stopping for second to notice a beautiful ring or an arresting pattern in a dress.

For the soul, beauty is not defined as pleasantness of form but rather as the quality in things that invites absorption and contemplation.

If we are going to care for the soul, if we know that the soul is nurtured by beauty, then we will have to understand beauty more deeply and give it a more prominent place in life. Religion has always understood the value of beauty, as we can see in churches and temples, which are never built for purely practical considerations, but always for the imagination. A tall steeple or a rose window are not designed to allow additional seating or better light for reading….

An appreciation for beauty is simply openness to the power of things to stir the soul. If we can be affected by beauty, then soul is alive and well in us, because the soul’s great talent is for being affected. The word “passion” means basically “to be affected,” and passion is the essential energy of the soul.

The poet Rilke describes this passive power in the imagery of the flower’s structure, when he calls it a “muscle of infinite reception.” We don’t often think of the capacity to be affected as strength and as the work of a powerful muscle, and yet for the soul, as for the flower, this is its toughest work.”

Visit our massage continuing education page. Learn how to incorporate meditation into your massage practice in the Massage and Meditation workshop, Sunday, December 12th.