Friday, May 05, 2006

The pain - pleasure continuum

I was struck yesterday by the juxtaposition (synchrony) of two blog posts: mine about pink flowers, and my blog friend Rauf’s about eugenics (in his country, India, outcasts are STILL sterilized for population control).

Two things hit me. 1) Proliferation of life vs. death. 2) How to understand pain and pleasure in our world.

I am way too comfortable and can go DAYS without giving a thought to those who suffer. Because I have incredible happiness and ease of lifestyle, I have greater responsibility to do what I can to improve the lives of others.

I grew up with guilt, and this is not where I want this to go.

But I have to figure out a way to remember this daily and do something about it. Some of my blogging friends are very good at raising awareness and keeping this on the front burner: Ginnie, Nathan and Paul (and, as I mentioned, Rauf). My thanks to them.

Here’s to greater awareness, which leads to more light, which leads to greater truth, which leads to CHANGE! Where would we be without the civil rights activists: Ghandi, King, etc.? It doesn’t just HAPPEN.

These thoughts, and comments on my post yesterday have got me thinking more about “beauty therapy.” How does beauty ease suffering? My sister Susan commented yesterday about the study done in prison when psychological conditions improved when walls were painted pink. I do know a bit about color therapy. I want to research the idea of beauty as therapy. I’ve heard about art therapy and music therapy. I know nothing about them.


Rauf said...

Trying to understand pain suffering and death led to many philosophies and religions Ruth.
That brings us to the basic question why we are here. Its complicated.

Any one who does not react to beauty is either labotomised or a fake.

Beauty of a person's thoughts, beauty of imagination, physical beauty, beauty of nature moves any one. Beauty therapy is a great idea Ruth. Music therapy has been tried on sick people, found to work well. Cows found to yield more under the influence of music. Don't know how far is it true.
and don't know what kind of music makes cows yield more, Rap ?

Ruth said...

Ok, now I'm envisioning cows in a rap video . . .

Ginnie said...

It's an interesting concept, Ruth--beauty therapy. "We" mostly think of personal, facial/bodily beauty but I think there are so many other levels for consideration. Your post about the flowers is a good case in point. Thomas Moore talks about how we care for the Soul and how we need to surround ourselves with what's Soulful...or what's beautiful (a synonym?)? I think there's a connection there, yes?

Ruth said...

Ginnie, I agree that there are many levels to think about it, and that beauty (as Rauf also pointed out) is visual, conceptual, etc. If you asked 100 people to define "beauty" I wonder what they'd say.

Lord Boo said...

Interesting post, Ruth, but, i'm not too sure what to say (forgive me, if i sound stupid); beauty therapy is interesting, but i fail to understand what exactly you meant by it; does it refer to women who visit their cosmetologists to uplift their sagging faces and bodies for that "feel good" factor ? or people who are oblivious to everything else but the goodness around them ? or did you mean, doing something for the others, who don't have enough beauty in their lives, metaphorically speaking ? cuz if that's the latter, it's quite an expensive job, because as people say, beauty doesn't come cheap. Please enlighten

Ruth said...

Lord Boo, of course when talking about beauty, it is a subjective term, not absolute. So that's one.

When I think of the idea of beauty as therapy, I don't mean facelifts or makeovers. I think there is nothing more beautiful than the face of an old woman or man who has understanding.

I haven't gotten very far with this yet, but when I envision it, one example I think of is this: Someone is dying in a hospital room. There is no cure, they will die. (In our country hospice care is often at home, but I think this could be carried out in hospital where it's needed even more -- in fact I read that it happens somewhere.) The "beauty therapist" comes in and dresses the dying patient in soft, light silk pyjamas. Overhead flourescent lights are turned off. Candles are lit. Restful music is played. Whatever comforts the dying patient in their last hours is provided if possible. Rather than seeing only to the physiological needs of the patient, the whole person is attended to, recognizing that the emotional, spiritual and psychological wellbeing of the patient can be enhanced with just a small effort.

It's about finding ways to attend to needs on many levels of a suffering person, recognizing that physiology is affected by factors other than just the body, chemistry, etc. We are our minds, our hearts, our souls. I would like to learn more about attending to these dimensions by providing beautiful surroundings, and that includes caregivers who understand beauty at a deeper level than the skin.

Ruth said...

I got to thinking that the term "beauty" in "beauty therapist" is problematic. But then, I would like to reclaim the word, because it's being claimed by makeover specialists who focus on the outside. So I'm still thinking . . .

Ginnie said...

I love your thinking, Ruth :) and think how you've descibed the surroundings of a dying person is exactly what "beauty therapy" is. Just one example. Creating environments, presentation of food, the extra touch in adding something special to someone's lunch or packing a child's suitcase for an overnight with G'ma, or taking more time in planning the garden, etc. So many levels/places/contexts!

Ruth said...

Yes, Ginnie. As you wrote in your original comment, it's about care of the soul.