Just Look and See

“To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one.”
John Ruskin

By the time we reach adulthood, language is so much a part of our perceptual process that we may habitually substitute word descriptions for direct perception of things. We look at a piece of fruit and we see “apple” or “strawberry” without much real awareness of the fruit. This is useful, in that we can perceive and categorize things quickly without much mental energy, but we can lose touch with our world of perception.

In order to open up to perceiving directly, try practicing observation without words. When you look at the clouds in the sky, just see them. Don’t try to decide if they are altocumulus or cumulonimbus, or if they mean it is going to rain, or if they look like a duck or a dragon. Just see them. Look at their shape and color and movement without interpretation or classification.

Perhaps, take a slow walk and see what you can see without verbal interference. At times you will likely think the names of things as you see them. That’s fine, just let go of the name and try to see beyond the word name. As you walk, breathe slowly and comfortably. Let go of your thoughts and send your attention to your senses.

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© 2001 Tom Barrett