Recently, the term, “the art of experiencing” came up in a conversation I was having with a friend about the connections between “mind, body, and spirit”. It was one of those discussions where we were trying to parse out the “woo, woo” quality of holistic energy systems from the interplay of determination, self-care, and positive attitude. My friend boldly pronounced before she left our get-together, “think of it as the art of experiencing.”
My first response. We “experience” all the time just by the sake of being. We take in the sounds, the smells, and the feelings of what is going on in our environment. It’s pretty simple. Everyone does it. No big deal. No art required.
Still, it kept me thinking...
Earlier today I got up, brushed my teeth, made coffee, threw a load of laundry and unloaded the dishwasher. I dare say that I wasn’t experiencing much during that series of activities. (except for when I tripped over the cat.) I was on autopilot doing my typical routine. No art required.
A bit later I sat down to write this blog. Now, at my desk, I can feel the heat from the sun coming in through the window. I can hear the low hum of the fan in the corner. I feel the pressure of trying to focus my attention on writing. This is me experiencing – consciously aware and actively processing and reflecting on the moment and my environment. I am engaged and will remember this. I’m getting something out of it and putting more into the experience. But, it still doesn’t feel particularly artful.
I pause and think some more.
Clearly, there is another level of experiencing – somewhere in the space beyond active engagement (me writing this blog), and autopilot (doing a load of laundry). But where?
Most of what I do throughout the day is tune in and out of thinking about what I am doing. In fact, for most of us, our noisy, overcrowded environment causes us to edit and limit our experiences. We tune out more than we tune in. We seek to stop the overwhelm or to erase the boredom. We protect ourselves but sometimes we miss out on the good experiences. And, we don’t really end up feeling less overwhelmed and less bored. But we do feel a whole lot of tired.
A new thought about "the Art".
It occurs to me that maybe, just maybe “the Art” lies in our rare ability to tune in and tune out at the same time. When we find that delicate balance. We do this at special times when we can seize the moment and hold on. We are engaged and disengaged at the same time. We truly Listen, Feel, Hear and Smell. We Absorb and are Absorbed. The art in experiencing may be the ability to open all of one's receptors. Giving, Taking and Being at the same time. In this level of experiencing, we get the most out of whatever the moment was about. We give our most to it as well. The Art is in feeling the experience with all aspects of our being - mind, body and spirit. And getting there often.
When are the opportunities to practice the Art of Experiencing?
I am searching. Mostly, I find them in my alone time. When I’m reading a book, sitting in the sun, walking, or taking a shower. Taking in the feelings, the sights, the smells and the sounds. Unfiltered. Sometimes I find that equilibrium between being aware of what is happening and not getting in the way of what is happening. The experience has a rejuvenating effect. Spontaneously I come up come up with new thoughts and ideas. I find balance. I feel good.
So, now I get it. I do believe the Art of Experiencing is real. There right in front of me. Available. It encompasses the aspects of mind, body and spirit. I give myself permission.
Thank you, my friend, for helping me discover.