Echoes of Energy: A Museum Exercise
Written by: Michelle Belanger
Echoes of Energy: The Museum Exercise
Find an art museum in your area and set a day aside to go visit it. Take your journal with you and if you like, bring a partner along as well. Before you go into the museum, take some quiet time to center yourself. Focus inward on your own energy, and when you feel like you've gotten a solid awareness of your subtle body, extend this awareness around you to include the outside world as well. Once you feel very receptive to the subtle reality, go into the art museum. Wander around for a little while, seeking out the areas of the museum which call to you.
The purpose of this exercise is to learn how to "listen" to the impressions left upon objects. Try to be open and receptive to everything around you, but also try to get rid of any expectations you might have about how these impressions will make themselves known to you. Remember: you have lived your whole life "hearing" the subtle reality and yet not really listening to it. It will take some time to break yourself of the habit of ignoring the sensations that come to you. Try not to focus too much on any single piece of art, and try to not build expectations based on the appearance of the artwork. Some of the most mundane things have the strongest impressions on them, and some of the most beautiful pieces are completely blank.
If an image suddenly occurs to you or if you get a sudden sensation as you pass by one of the displays, take a moment to note this in your journal. Take a look at the artwork around you and try to locate the object that the impression is coming from. See if you can focus more carefully on that particular piece. Let the images and emotions come to you, keeping careful track of them so you can record them later. If you have a partner with you, try not to talk about your impressions until you are finished with that particular artwork. Once you have both explored your impressions as far as you can, then you can take some time to compare what you felt. Take note of what was different in each of your impressions, but also note what was the same.
Keep in mind that if you and your partner have conflicting impressions from a particular piece of artwork, this does not mean that either of you is necessarily wrong. Nearly all of the pieces in the art museum are very old, and there are years' worth of impressions lingering upon these pieces in layers. It may simply be that one particular impression leapt out at you, while your partner focused on a very different one. If you go back later to the same piece, see whether you can separate the layers and get at the impressions your partner was sensing in addition to those that occurred to you earlier.
If you are having trouble picking up on clear impression, seek out those areas where they keep the ancient statuary from the Egypt, Greece, and Rome. These ancient cultures had such a reverence for art that this lingers even despite the wear of many, many years. You might also want to look for the old Church art from the Byzantine period or the Middle Ages. These pieces were created and treated with a kind of religious awe rarely found in Christianity these days. Finally, you could try finding the part of the museum that houses the Oriental temple art. These are some of the most impressively imbued statues, pieces that were the focus of countless religious ceremonies, offerings and prayers. You can almost hear them whispering of the temples they left behind.
Take your time as you wander through the artwork. If a particular piece calls to you, don't be afraid to stop and spend some time examining it. Study it closely, looking at the care the artist put into it. Look at it from every angle. Above all, listen to it. Try to feel the impressions left upon it by the ages and the passing of many hands. You may see images flit across your mind's eye. You may hear the suggestion of music. You may even feel sensations upon your own skin or deep within your body. Take note of all of these things. If you get a particularly strong impression from a piece in the museum, explore it as fully as you can, then find some place where you can sit down and record your impressions in your journal. It's important to write down as much of the experience as possible so you can go over it later. The images might not make sense right away. Don't try to impose any kind of sense on them. Just let them come. Sometime later, as you're reading things back over, you may suddenly gain a new insight, and the whole experience will become clear.
You may want to make several trips to the same museum and keep a record of each trip. Note the location of the more potent items and see if, in later visits, they have anything more to reveal to you. If you get an impression that you can pin down to a specific time period or a specific place, try to do some research on the piece of artwork or the culture it came from. You can let an impression stand by itself, but I find it very helpful to back the impression up with fact. The hardest part about sensing the subtle reality is learning to trust your impressions. Finding an outside source that agrees with your impressions gives you the proof you may need to trust yourself more fully.
As you verify your impressions, you may learn some interesting information about a particular time-period or culture that will prove useful farther down the line. Many times in the past I have been drawn inexplicably toward a certain piece of artwork or a certain figure in history only to have these things figure strongly in my own path months or even years later. You never know where your studies will lead you, or what inconsequential tidbit of information will lead to a great revelation at some later stage in your life. The point with the art museum exercise is to practice and hone your perceptions, but hopefully, you'll enrich yourself while doing it, as well.