Seeing as New

July 2, 2011

You wake up, roll out of bed, and go thorough your morning routine–often without thinking much about what you are doing. In a way, you’re on auto-pilot. It’s not that you’re not paying attention or present, it’s just that everything is so familiar, it doesn’t require much attention to get it done.

The same quality of attention might apply to getting to work or getting into your day. You drive, take the bus or train, you get to your destination just fine and begin your day. Much of your work, you find easy, so you do it without thinking much. Most of your attention might actually be on daily news pr whatever is happening that doesn’t happen on a daily basis.

When you’re finished with work, you may your way home without any trouble. You’ve done it many times before so you spend your time thinking, day dreaming, or resting. At home you have an evening routine that might be similar to your morning routine, with the possible exception of social engagements. You might go out with your partner or meet friends after work. For the most part, you are doing things that require little effort and attention.

When we are children, the world seems to hold an almost magical spell on us. What most adults would find all too ordinary, children find fascinating. A small inset crawling on the ground, a dripping faucet, the way the light comes through the trees, and creates shadow puppets on the wall.

Why do our lives often seem to lack this magical feeling as we get older? Is this simply part of growing up or is there a way to retain the feeling of excitement while we also make our way through the work week? The later is possible if we learn a skill that will ensure that we never loose that magical feeling we had as a child. It’s called “Seeing as New.”

What happens as part of the learning and living process, is that we learn to identify things based on associations and categorization. We learn to see something as belonging to a certain group of things, such as trees, cars, and even types of people. Our minds to this automatically, probably to free up space for other tasks, such as attending to a current activity or simply to lower overall mind power used.

The upside of this process (categorization through association) is that our loves become somewhat streamlined. We don’t need to spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out what is going on, identifying things, learning about things, and making sure that a thing really is what we think it is. We are able to quickly “check off” things as we encounter them. “Oh yes, that’s grass. That’s a dog. That’s a bus. Those are school children. Those are staff people. etc.”

Do you see the problem with this way of processing? We don’t actually see and experience what is there. We experience what we think is there. We don’t experience life as it is. We experience it as we have come to know it. The reality is: You have never experienced this moment before–and you have never seen the world as it is right now. When you see a tree, you have never seen that tree before, although your mind might try to tell you that you have. Your mind will say “Yes. yes. yes. I’ve  seen that a million times. It’s the tree that is in front of my house.” Your mind is trying to save you the time and energy it would take to really see it – in this moment, which would be an amazing experience.

Imagine seeing that same tree that you walk by everyday though the eyes of a child. How might you feel if you really looked at the leaves, the bark, the patterns in the branches, the solid trunk, the way the roots blend into the earth–what an incredible masterpiece! Not only is it a masterpiece, but it’s dynamic. It’s never been the way it is right now–and neither have you. You are seeing the tree for the first time–literally. And, if it could see, would be seeing you as you have never been before. The two of you are new in every passing moment. Is this not true?

With this newness in mind. Is it reasonable to consider the tree as something unique and mysterious? Isn’t this the reality? It’s not the tree that your mind might tell you it is. It’s not even the tree that you saw the day before. It’s a unique life form that you are seeing for the very first time–every time.

Now, imagine how many things in your life that you are not really seeing, but rather “checking off” as “seen it.” How much of your day are you not really experiencing because your mind is sure that it’s seen it before? Probably a lot. Imagine how rich and magical your life could be is you saw everything as new, as the amazing dynamic creation that it is.

What happens often, is that we apply the “know it already” thinking to not only the things in our lives, but the people as well. We think that we know someone because we have some past experiences with them. We even expect them to behave a certain way, based on past experiences, or even experiences with people who are similar (able to be grouped together with that person, based on some criteria). We often treat people as if we know “what they’re all about” based on our perception of them as part of any number of different groups within which our associating mind has placed them. We miss out on seeing them as they are.

The secret to experiencing a dynamic, exciting, and “magical” life, is to ignore the “seen it” messages that our minds send us and to see for ourselves. When we really look and experience something as it is, rather than as we think it is, we reclaim the potential to have moment-to-moment magic in our lives, to find that same wonderment that kept our attention as a child, and to have authentic and rich connections with all other beings.

The Practice:

Take time to see something as new. Remind yourself that you have never seen the world as it is right now. Look, listen, feel, smell, taste, and sense what is happening from moment to moment. When your mind tells you that you’ve “see this or that before,” say “perhaps, but I want to experience this for myself, right now.” Remember that your mind is only trying to help, but that sometimes, you’re better of saying “no thank you. I’ll take this one on my own.” Deepen your life experiences by pausing to really see something or someone for what or who they are in this moment. See them as new and resist the temptation to clump them into groups of the familiar. They are not– and neither are you.

This Thoughtfulness Practice of “Seeing as New” can be applied to any situation to increase appreciation and wonderment for all that life has to offer. Practice it from your first waking moments until you set you head down to rest. See the world through a child’s eyes and experience yourself as new.

What do you think? Share your thoughts and ideas below.

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Comments

One Response to “Seeing as New”

  1. Rick W on July 5th, 2011 5:17 pm

    Well put! I think step one in this process is turning off your cell phone. It’s hard to be mindful with text messages coming in every 30 seconds. Reducing distractions seems like a prerequisite to becoming more thoughtful.

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