Music can create a forgotten memory that may have emotion attached to it. The music may or may not have words. Play a song from your high school years, whatever those years were, and close your eyes. Feel the old memories of the past come over you. You can change the song and in doing so, change your memory response. It may be a happy, sad, or an angry memory. It could even be a song you listened to during one of your deepest and darkest moments; when listening to it, the song may trigger the same depressive response you had in your past. Auditory stimuli related to hidden memories is a powerful regressive tool if you need to go back in time.

Other forms of music allow your brain to more or less focus on a specific task. Music can enable you to be more open to doing big pieces of work or academic projects. For example, I am using music this very moment to keep my mind focused on my writing. Sometimes the type of music needed makes no sense, but it still works. Everything depends on the individual's response to the music. Other types of music may not have a memory for you at this moment, but can be used to create a new inner experience. Listen to Kevin Kern's “Through the Arbor” (, an instrumental piece that may be new to you. See if it takes you to a place inside yourself that may be looking for intimacy and connection. Now listen to Peter Gabriel's “Blood of Eden” and see where this song takes you with its music and words ( Journal after each piece and see what comes to mind for you.

Journal for a few minutes . . . take your time . . . what comes to mind for you?

Such music can be a powerful tool for allowing students to learn more about relationships, in terms of what is or what you wish it might be. Music could be joyful or sad for each listener. Just become aware of whatever comes up. The next piece recommended for this exercise is from North Korea and can have cultural implications. Some find it strange or even creepy because they have not seen or heard anything like it before. Again, watch and listen and journal what you feel afterward (

Journal for a few minutes . . . take your time . . . what comes to mind for you?

In other cases, a singer's voice can be so unexpectedly powerful, it can bring tears to your eyes. There is a musical video on YouTube from America's Got Talent. Again, keep tabs on what you are feeling as you hear it ( Ask yourself, “What is it that is a so emotional about this?” Yes, music is a powerful awareness medium, and it is a favorite aesthetic self-awareness learning tool.

In nursing, we may need to remember what it was like as a child as we start our pediatric rotation. When in a community health course, a piece of music may be used to address cultural sensitivity or cultural practices to include spiritual beliefs.


It is a common practice to go to movies with others to satisfy various interests or even to play out a fantasy role. In many cases we go to the theater just to be entertained. However, you can attend a film to have an inner awakening about yourself. It might come from a romantic movie, a comedy, or a thought-provoking film. In the movie The Kid, Bruce Willis runs into himself as he was when he was a 10-year-old boy. His insights into who he was, why he repressed his boyhood, and what he lost in adulthood, continually show up in the movie as this young boy challenges his older self for being what he has become—a hardened, cold, uncaring, shell of a man who made a lot of money
( After watching this video clip, have a discussion about what it means to you. Have you ever had an experience that made you think that part of your adult life was directly related to your childhood? In a mental health class, you might have the students reflect on that small voice they are hearing when it tells them they are not being good enough, or are not standing out from other people, and then see if they can reflect on when that started in their life—as a young person.

In The Fight Club, two actors play the same person who is living two different lives. These two opposite personalities cannot possibly be the same man, because they are just too different. A viewer of the movie could superficially just look at how the man lived a split life. One could be very clinical about this movie and see a dissociative disorder. On the other hand, one could see oneself living different lives for different reasons. At work, a person may be assertive and powerful, stepping forward, and very open. At home, that person could become a quiet, withdrawn, and passive personality. How and why that occurs is a challenge, and the inner journey expressed in the movie depicts a way that viewers might relate to that split ( Movies are a strong learning tool and are very effective in the classroom.

Movies allow you to teach something that can only be experienced, so why not have someone else experience it and watch that experience unfold and learn from it. In some cases, the flim can stir millions of people as with The Passion of the Christ or The Da Vinci Code where people put a true or false premise to the film related to their moral beliefs. They may also find a new outlet for their beliefs that appears very scientific as found in What the Bleep Do We Know (2003) as it integrates quantum mechanics and spirituality. The remake of the movie What the Bleep Do We Know—Down the Rabbit Hole (2004) goes even further, with additional interviews, more science, and deeper questions. What is really unique is the artificial intelligence within the movie that takes you only as deep into quantum thinking as you want to go on a scale of 1 to 9. Once a level is picked, the movie only shows you clips that go to that level of quantum understanding. It might show you something on the double-slit experiment, but passes over entanglement. Imagine if we could do this with all learning media! Arntz, Chasse, and Vicente (2005) wrote a book about the discussions in this movie and about addressing quantum mechanics in our lives.

Visual Art

Visual art can do what film is able to do, but quicker and without the progressive movement and changes of a film. When I look at pictures by

M. C. Escher such as his Metamorphosis I, II, and III, it would be a very inter-

esting question to ask students how they might also see such changes in themselves (Escher, 2000; Visual art can come from external sources and can help others to see what the image means to them, or they can create their own image to give a deeper meaning to a part of their life. I have seen images of how students viewed their anger and they drew these out on large sheets of paper using crayons. The drawings

Vignette 5.2

Look at this photo and describe what you think is going through the mind of this 4-year-old boy.

Did you give a feeling to the photo? Maybe sadness? Maybe he is just watching where he is going?

were very telling regarding how the anger built up and exploded, or how it lacked a mechanism to calibrate it. “Photographs are precise records of material reality” (Collier & Collier, 1986, p. 10). Drawings and photos can be communication bridges, pathways into unfamiliar territory, or allow the student to lead the charge into self-exploration. They are considered “the strongest visual statement about an experience” (Hagedorn, 1990, p. 228). Vignette 5.2 allows you to use a photograph in which to move your subjective self.

We put ourselves into the aesthetics when we interpret or attach meaning to a picture. In reality, the meaning is coming from within us. I am constantly creating assumptions about patients based on a brief interaction with them in the hospital. Do we make assumptions about a person based on his or her illness? Consider the image we get from a family at the bedside. What do we interpret about our patients based on brief interactions with them and how could that impact our patient care? What does it say about ourselves as
nurses? These tools are very easy to use, and often very eye opening for our awareness of how we make assumptions without investigating thoroughly.

Other Aesthetic Methods

Klimek (1990) suggested teaching care through storytelling and creating an interactive dialogue between the faculty and students regarding their experiences in life or in clinical settings. Hughes (1995) suggested that students keep journals and write with a focus toward the human element of the interaction as a means of developing their personal awareness of caring. This form of reflective journaling offers opportunities for students to know more about themselves and supports affective learning.

Care theorists, researchers, and educators offer a host of aesthetic and intersubjective ways to implement the care strategies that are directly related to affective understanding (Leininger & Watson, 1990). The processes include faculty mentoring, use of aesthetic tools, such as storytelling, visual arts, music, poetry, humor, working with the homeless, interactive dialogue, and use of metaphors. Our aesthetic world appears to be an excellent place for our personal growth as we interact with it.

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