The Power of a Beautiful Scene
Norman Vincent Peale


There was a period some years ago when I foolishly allowed myself to become over-involved in a series of activities.  I became so tense that it was impossible to rest during the day.  I had trouble sleeping at night even though greatly fatigued.

Finally, things got so hectic that my wife, Ruth, and I took a week off and went to Atlantic City to try and unwind.  From the window of my hotel room that first morning I could look out directly upon the sea as it washed gently on the soft shores of sand.  It was very quieting to behold this scene.

The day was overcast with drifting fog and clouds.  Imperturbably the sea rolled shoreward with its deep-throated roar and ceaseless but perfect rhythm.  Clean spume blew from it wave crests.  Over the beach and climbing high against the blue sky and then sliding down the wind with ineffable grace, sea gulls soared and dived.

Everything in this scene was graceful, beautiful, and conducive to serenity.  Its benign peacefulness laid a healing, quieting touch upon me.  I closed my eyes and discovered that I could still visualize the scene just as I had beheld it.  There it was as clear cut as when actually viewed by the eye.  It occurred to me that the reason I could "see it" with my eyes closed was because my memory had absorbed it.

In the days that followed I discovered that the regular contemplation of beauty had a healing effect on the tense muscles and organs of my body.  Fatigue drained away.  Energy returned.

I discovered something else, too.  I wasn't bound by my immediate surroundings in this practice.  When a storm came up, I could turn away from the ocean and relive other peaceful, beautiful scenes from my past.  As a part of this therapy I visualized God as creator of this beauty and pictured his master design in the change of seasons, in the rhythm of life.

Today whenever I feel gripped by pressure and tension, I go through this same procedure.  I stop for several minutes and remove myself from the activity at hand.  Then I bring up, from out of memory's storehouse, scenes that have impressed me by their beauty, such as the time I gazed upon Mont Blanc when the vast mountain was bathed in moonlight.  Or the radiant sun-kissed day when our great white ship dropped anchor off Waikiki Beach.  Or that mystic evening when I first watched the purple shadows fill the Grand Canyon to overflowing with hush.  Or that breathtaking morning when we awoke to find that a quiet  snow during the night had draped everything outside our window in white.

This practice never fails to have its therapeutic effect.  And when restless and troubled at night, seeking sleep, I review these scenes until God's quietness overcomes me and I drift into a sound and untroubled sleep.

Seeking relaxation and inner peace, of course, should never be an end in itself.  The idea is not to retreat from life's responsibilities, but to build a quiet center inside one's body and soul from which you emerge each morning to enter vigorously into the day.

What are the most beautiful scenes of your past life?  Create your own storehouse of memories, not only to help you find rest and relaxation, but to have more energy for daily living.

I Wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth


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