The Mind & The Arts

Our world hungers and thirsts for beauty. It's in our DNA, that miracle of neurobiology that sets us apart from the rest of God's good creation. Nowhere is our passion for the aesthetic more apparent than in drama, painting, music, film, and video (to name but a few).

The Apostle Paul tells us to renew our minds (Romans 12), a sophisticated and often neglected discipline that involves controlled breathing, spatial awareness, and refocusing our attention through meditative prayer. Monks have practiced this kind of spiritual discipline for centuries producing classic theologies of work and rest.

Similarly, recent studies in neuroscience have revealed that the visual and movement arts can renew our minds as well. Whether it's a photo, a song, or a theatrical performance the artist influences our thoughts and feelings by activating the resonance circuits of our right-side brain. Once activated, they begin forging neural pathways to the more logical, sequential networks centered in the left-side brain. Like an endless waterfall, the untamed beauty of artistic expression becomes an endless potential to assist the integration, and thus, the renewal of our minds.

Since classical antiquity art has been prescribed as an integral part of a balanced education. Today, you'll find it specialized counseling and therapy settings as a means of healing and recovery for a variety of mental health patients, including those with post-traumatic-stress disorder, or PTSD. Art is more than just a device of commercial entertainment; it's also a breath-taking source of life, rejuvenation, redemption, and a spiritual pathway towards the discipleship of our minds.

The Power of Telling Your Story

Everyone loves a good story. Step into any kindergarten classroom during a read aloud and you will see the wide eyes and gaping mouths of little learners lost in wonder as their teacher, a molder of young minds, holds open the colorful pages of her storybook.

Rapunzel.Three Little Pigs. Little Red Riding Hood...You know the list. You were once there too!

As we grew into adulthood, the stories became much more dynamic, compelling, and complex, yet our love for story remained fixed in our DNA. How mundane would our lives be if not for the narratives we long for in books, music, film, video, and theater?

You were made for this. Not just the enjoyment of story--you were made for connection. We find it in our dynamic relationship to God and our relationship to others, that awkward, messy organism we call community. Whether it's family or friends, getting involved in the lives of other people challenges us to know them, and to be known by them, but that's where we can also find the greatest good, and the greatest health.

Most often we enjoy positive, healthy connections in community, but not always. People eventually let us down or hurt us by their words and actions. Though social media has conditioned us to post the most trendy, appealing aspects of our lives we still must face our physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles, that hefty bag of secrets we sling over our shoulders every day before we walk out the door. And the sooner we deal with it, the better.

Ironically, the way to healing will be found in the same place our struggles began--community. Just as the words and actions of one person can afflict us, so can the words and actions of another heal us. We have to be willing to share though, to open up, and be honest about what we're thinking and feeling. That bag of secrets you carry around is a part of your life, your story, and God wants to relieve you of that burden across your shoulders. When you trust a dear friend, family member, or counselor with your wounded heart, and they honor your feelings, amazing transformation can occur:

“The process of being known is the vessel in which our lives are kneaded and molded, lanced and sutured, confronted and comforted, bringing God’s new creation closer to its fullness in preparation for the return of the King. It is the communal container in which the information about the mind and relationships...takes its shape and gives birth to the graces of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

[Excerpt From: Curt Thompson. “Anatomy of the Soul.” iBooks.]

Christian or not, don't we all aspire to become people with those kind of graces? Absolutely. I know that I do.

Find your way to living life with more power, influence, authenticity, and purpose. Join a community where your thoughts and feelings will be taken seriously. Tell your story, and be known.