||Seeing with New Eyes
I seem to have entered a phase of de-cluttering with a vengeance and any spare time I have finds itself devoted to getting rid of old stuff and putting things away that have taken up residence in piles here and there. In my latest round of de-cluttering, I recalled how powerful it is to look at what’s familiar with new eyes and to see it as if it were something just encountered.
Think of the way you look around when you enter a space you’ve never been in before. You notice things that the people who are in the space all the time may have learned not to see, or may take so for granted they barely notice. This is a natural response to familiarity – we don’t consciously register certain things anymore.
Now, think of a space that’s deeply familiar to you – perhaps your home, perhaps your workplace, perhaps your garden or backyard, perhaps your school, or the place you go to worship or meditate. In your mind’s eye, revisit that place right now and notice what you see. Do you see a space that’s welcoming, that invites you into it with a sense of calm, curiosity, or positive energy? Or, do you see a space that weighs you down, or makes you nervous, or tires you out when you think of being there?
For this week’s experiment, I invite you to see familiar places with new eyes. One of the easiest ways to do this is to enter familiar spaces as if you were a visitor for the first time. When we enter spaces and places for the first time, we tend to really take a look around, to bother to notice what’s in the space and our experience of it.
For example, notice the places that add to your sense of energy and enthusiasm for life. Pay particular attention to the sensations in your body when you’re in these places, and to the state of mind they support in you. Notice, as well, the places that touch you with a sense of anxiety or fatigue, or that make you uncomfortable in some way you may not be able to define clearly. Your body and state of mind will let you know when you’re in a space that’s nourishing you and when you’re in one that’s wearing you down.
If you find that the space wears you down, notice if there’s anything you can do about it, in terms of changing the space in some way. Even small changes can make a difference. And, if the space needs a lot of work to make it feel more welcoming, remember that change happens one moment at a time, not all in one hour, or one day, or even one week or month. Sometimes we find ourselves in an unsupportive place where we can’t just walk away. When this happens, notice that you can bring your awareness of the space into your mindfulness practice. Then, you can use it as an opportunity to practice moving through experiences without adding disturbing energy or greater upset as a result of your internal reactions.
As with all the experiments, there aren’t any right or wrong ways to see with new eyes. Rather, it’s an invitation to be more consciously aware of your experience of space and place, and to notice what you can do to make these places more nourishing and supportive to your sense of well-being. Remember to leave judgment behind and allow curiosity to be your constant companion as you play with seeing with new eyes. As I mentioned above, this is one more form of mindfulness practice that allows you to actually be there, and to know that you are there.