Life As Art - Altering our Perception to Sense Beauty

The following post is written by Nia Black Belt Teacher and Next Generation Trainer Allison Wright, and first appeared on Allison's blog at Allison's personal website is

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” – Dr.Wayne Dyer

Anyone who has ever taken a drawing class is likely to relate to the Nia concept called "Life As Art." In most high school and college drawing classes, you’re presented with a still life or model and asked to sketch the object from different points of view. Depending on where you stand, what you see could be very different than what the person across from you sees. Shift your point of view and what you see shifts with it. 

In Nia, we alter our perception to sense beauty using Life As Art – a similar perspective practice. Ultimately, altering our perception is a function of opening our awareness to receive the countless sources of pleasure and beauty around us. A great story I have about this comes from my daily walk to work at Nia International Headquarters.

On average, it takes me about fifteen minutes to walk to HQ. While I vary my route from day to day, I usually take the fast route down Park Avenue if it is raining. Now if you know Portland at all, you know it rains all the time. Consequently, I have had countless opportunities to become familiar with this particular path! About two months after I moved here, I remember walking down Park Avenue past the same maple tree I always walked past, however something was different this time. This time around, I saw the thick scaly chunks of wood that formed the skin of the tree and the majestical quality its height commanded. My eyes received the orchestra of colors and observed the rich veins protruding from each leaf. Despite how many times I’d seen this tree before, I felt like I was seeing it for the very first time. In some ways, I think I was.

What I was sensing was life as art. I was attentive to the nuances, perceiving and receiving the gifts the present moment had to offer me. What’s more, it brought me great pleasure to do so! I walked off to work feeling recharged, relaxed and energized by the experience of witnessing the world around me.

Beauty abounds us. Whether or not we see it depends on the quality of our awareness, our perspective. What is it that allows something to bring us pleasure one day and not another? How come two people can look at the same thing and describe it completely differently? Awareness is a primary factor in the answer to these questions. Life As Art invites us to sense reality through an artistic lens, to be curious and fascinated by the continuous unfolding of beauty around us.

Marianne Williamson, one of the primary authors responsible for popularizing "A Course In Miracles" sums it up best: ”A miracle is a shift in perception.”

Further Reading: If this concept rocks your world and you’re interested in the science behind it, pick up “The Elegant Universe” by Dr. Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University.