Like a classic inkblot test, abstract images and the way we interpret art can reveal noteworthy details about hidden aspects of our personality, and the way we think. When you look at the above image, what do you see first? The psychological benefits of viewing art can also be quite wonderful, as art encourages creative thinking, increases brain connectivity and plasticity, and also increases empathy, tolerance, and feelings of love.
Studies have found that mental decline was due mainly to the loss of communication between brain cells, not from the death of brain cells themselves. Art can be useful in getting both hemispheres of the brain communicating with each other, and art also enhances problem-solving skills as well.
In one study of over 10,000 students, researchers found that a one-hour trip to an art museum changed the way they thought and felt. Students who visited an art museum not only showed increased critical thinking skills, they also exhibited greater empathy towards how people lived in the past and expressed greater tolerance towards people different than themselves.
Simply viewing art has also been found to give pleasure, much like falling in love. Brain scans revealed that looking at works of art trigger a surge of dopamine into the same area of the brain that registers romantic love.
While the meaning of the interpretation of what you see is ultimately up to you to decide, keep an open mind and you just might learn something interesting, new and enjoy the wonderful benefits that come from spending a few moments enjoying works of art. Notice which image you first see when looking at the image below.
What do you see first?
1. The Armored Knight
If you first saw the armored knight in the picture, it represents your desire to enjoy life and to have fun, yet there may be some heavy inner emotional walls you’ve put up in order to protect yourself from being hurt.
You may have a deep desire for friendship and loving connections in your life, and the stable presence of a caring loved one. Spend some time allowing your feelings to open up through the practice of self-compassion; start with healthy personal affirmations such as, “I am lovable, I am good enough, I am worthy of love and stability in my life.” Then take some time in a quiet place, and focus on the feeling of love in your heart. Once you can steadily feel the feeling of love, begin to bring that love to the ‘you’ within your feelings of hurt that may have originated from the past. Tell this past, hurt part of yourself how much you love it, as consciously feeling the feeling of love towards this part of you will cause it to open up, to relax, and eventually to heal.
A stable support system can also be quite useful, so try reaching out a little bit; make regular plans with friends and family who you feel genuinely good being around, take a yoga class or a gym class, volunteer at a charity with other like-minded kind people to become friends with. The sky’s the limit, and your wonderful and supportive friends are out there waiting for you.
2. The Two Dancers
The two dancers represent your romantic attitude about the world, however it’s one that you sometimes may try to conceal. You may deeply value some of the close people in your life, yet you are not able to tell them how incredibly important they are to you as often as you’d like. Consider thinking of a few small things you really appreciate about them, and then the next time you meet, express from your heart how much you truly love and value having them in your life.
An example of something you could say is; “You know, I don’t always say it enough, but I truly and deeply appreciate how often you call me and check in on me to see that I’m doing alright. I just want you to know how much I love you and really appreciate your calls. Thank you so much.” It could be something big or something small to mention to this wonderful person, but the important thing is that you are able to communicate to them your heartfelt love and appreciation.
The two dancers can also represent a somewhat hidden desire to have more fun in your life, so consider trying something new, whether that be taking an interesting class, learning how to draw or paint, traveling somewhere new or even reading a book on a new topic that you find enjoyable.
3. The Older Man’s Face
If you first saw the older man’s face, it means both that you can see the bigger picture in life without getting lost in the details, but it also means that you may be in a time of reflecting while looking back on valuable times in your life.
Sometimes there are moments in our lives when a gentle calling of what’s truly important to us in our hearts speaks to us, and brings us to a place of stillness and ‘knowing’ inside. We begin to think back to times that our hearts wanted to express itself more, a person we wanted to show more love to, a kindness we wish we had given, or even a time where we felt truly happy to be alive and our heart remembers the deep loving gratitude we still feel for the people that helped us in those beautiful moments.
The key to remember during these moments of heartfelt reflection is that something to learn is being presented to you; something to meet your heart’s need and to fulfill your heart’s inner request. The past is a lesson we can use to learn from and to help us live a better today, so if your heart and mind are fondly recounting something from your past, think about how you might bring forth that same love and kindness into your life today. Maybe someone truly helped you at a vulnerable time in your life, and their kindness moved you and helped to make you into the kind and caring person you are today. Consider ways in which you might be able to pass on this same loving kindness to someone you encounter, even to a stranger, knowing that this act of love may help them in ways you can never imagine. Your heart wants to expand in this way of love, so listen to what your heart wants, and then enjoy following it, take some action, and make something beautiful happen in your life.