Happy New Year, brother!
No doubt every self-styled self-help guru is attacking you with their yearly planning and goal-setting techniques about now.
From what I experience, most of these endless lists of questions and strategies only put me more in my head.
Few coaches or mentors help me to enjoy the simple pleasure of the moment: a pleasure that is, when you look for it, always… already… here.
The ease and delight you wish for is already here. The art is to slow down.
In the various Ars Amorata journeys we offer—be that Essentials, Mastery, or LOTM—we always start out with some magical assignments. We need to build a certain strength, a faith-of-spirit, before tackling the more difficult work.
At Ars Amorata, we propose a different approach to change:
Ours is a philosophical outlook for a man’s life. By cultivating a certain state of being, rather than pushing after material objects and trophies, we set ourselves apart. Life seems to pour its grace into a man who moves with mindfulness, gratitude, and a certain artistic… sloth!
So to kick off your new year, I offer you a gift.
This is the first post from our Lover Outlaw Trickster Magician course. The following practice is designed to get you out of your head, into a state of wonder and flow, and open you to the archetype of the Lover.
This is something you can do once—you’ll need a full morning or afternoon to complete this. But if you commit to the second part of the practice, its effects will continue every day of this year, and long beyond.
* * *
Move Towards Beauty In All Its Forms…
Sometime this week, go out of your house, and purchase a piece of art.
Where? Perhaps at a Saturday or Sunday market. Perhaps there’s a gallery in your city, or a craft shop in your town. If searching for art has you visit a different part of your hometown, perfect! Many people have never purchased a piece of art before, and setting foot into a whole new world might be an interesting journey in and of itself.
Now, it’s not important which piece of art you purchase, or even how much it costs. Ten dollars is enough to make the statement to yourself, although spending more might have a curious effect. My only guideline is this: try to purchase a piece of art that was produced by the artist him/herself. This is so that you can feel — in some way — a living connection to the person who created it. Sure, you can buy a reproduction or a poster of a masterpiece, but here I suggest you buy the original artefact.
How do I select which work of art to purchase? What a question to ponder! Look around the trade fair, the gallery, the street-side stools, and peruse. There’s no need to set a laser-like intention to “find the best piece of art”, scrutinising every artefact along the way. If your mind does such things, this is interesting in itself to note, for this might reveal a pattern that shows up in your life more broadly. Instead, enjoy the fact that you are probably doing something very different to what you do most weekends, and allow the artwork to come to you at its own pace. Often, when our agenda disappears and we enjoy the process, the meaningful, beautiful piece of art calls to us. Spend a few hours perusing, enjoying, viewing, and when you’re ready, purchase a piece of art.
Once home, place your artifact somewhere in your home where you’ll get to see it often. If it’s visible from a chair you like, that’s a useful place to hang it. Contemplate the art. Feel the art. Spend five minutes a day, every day this week, to pause, and to contemplate the art. How does this art-piece make you feel? How do you think the artist felt as they created it? Does the art-piece itself transmit something to you? Where do you go to — in your thoughts or emotions — when you spend five simple minutes in front of this work, with nothing else to do, and no other distractions?
Can you let your mind go blank (meditation), and see what the art does to you?
One needs no prior knowledge about art to be able to do this. Don’t worry if you don’t feel “cultured” or educated about such matters — I mean, who is? Even the sharpest critics can read things into a work of art that aren’t actually there. Anyone can learn to appreciate beauty if they just devote the time and consideration.
The Ars Amorata is about moving towards beauty in all its forms. During these next ninety days we’ll explore just what happens in our lives as we begin to prioritise the “aesthetic experience”.
Resist the ease of buying something online. If there’s a piece you want that is available online, buy it. But there’s something about the adventure of browsing in public, and what else might come your way.
* * *
If you wish to explore a slightly different version of this at a different point in the course, try the following:
Invest in some music this week, plug it into your highest quality speakers, and sit in a chair, allowing every part of this music to flood your being, taking you on a journey. In the age of streaming, not many of us pay for music anymore. So to exchange your hard earned money for somebody’s art is a practice of generosity, recognition and — as you may discover — a form of self-love. Listen to this music without moving, and without any interruptions. Put down your phone, your laptop, and immerse yourself fully into the musical experience. Swap your computer audio for the highest quality speakers you can find. Practice daily, even if you pause to hear just one song a day.
Invest in a piece of clothing this week. Similarly to the art practice above, go on a slow walk of some cool market stalls or fashionable clothes boutiques. Rather than set out on an agenda to “change your image”, just enjoy the beauty of style and fashion for its own purpose, and allow something to come to you. Avoid the hit-and-miss strategy of spending big on a new outfit to achieve a more updated look, and instead, allow pieces of clothing to come to you. Accessorise, in accordance with the more authentic you who is starting to emerge more and more.
What would happen if you invested in one piece of art, one album, or one item of clothing, each week for the next three months?
What happens when you give yourself a minimum of five minutes a day to sit back, melt, and let beauty have its way with you?
Now that you have the principle of this practice — 1) go out in the world and invest in something beautiful, and 2) pause and contemplate this item for five minutes per day — you can explore other realms. Interior design. Ceramics. Kitchenware. Food. Move towards beauty in all its forms.
How might your apartment (and your mental state) look, by practicing this over twelve full months?
* * *
- What happens when you give yourself a minimum of 5 minutes a day to sit back, melt, and let beauty permeate you?
- Feel free to post an image of the art you bought in the comments, to share with the others.
* * *
Want to continue the LOTM journey?
Join over a hundred other men from our community, and start now.