Looking Without Seeing - Experiential Online Animism Class
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Looking Without Seeing

looking without seeing

Looking Without Seeing

I recently went for a walk in the woods with a friend. She stopped and gasped when we came across this magnificent tree. Oh, it was fine, and it took her appreciation and surprise to help me see that I was looking without seeing. Yes, I noticed it the first time I came across it too, but after a while the novelty wore off, and I forgot.

We all do this. The brain looks for what is new. It also pays more attention to what’s potentially dangerous. So, we are programmed to overlook wonder and see negativity! Yep, if something is bad or harmful, we will pay more attention to it. If we’ve seen it before, even beautiful things can fade into the background.

Knowing this, you can see why life can be a dull, hard affair. If all I see are unpleasant and new things, my view is limited and dark! But it doesn’t have to be. We can override this programming. All it takes is mindfulness.

I’m glad I caught myself looking without seeing. If this becomes a habit, we can look without seeing the light in other people, the beauty of the sunset, the wonder of the stars on a clear night. We can move through life without seeing its magic and wonder. And don’t we do this all the time?

How many times have you gone through the entire day without seeing one thing that takes your breath away? I remember when my daughter was born just staring at her in disbelief that a tiny human could be created. The miracle of it all blew me away. Yet, out of the billions of people on the planet, how many of them inspire this type of awe in any given day?

Miracles, wonder, and magic are all around us. You don’t have to fly to some exotic, far off place to experience them. They are right here. If you can’t see them, it’s because you’re looking without seeing. So, here is my challenge for you.

Go outside and stroll in nature. Empty your mind so that you’re not distracted. Be alert for the smells around you. Don’t wait for something to catch your attention. Pay attention and you will notice how things smell. Maybe it’s a earthy and warm smell. Maybe it’s sweet and floral. Just let your nose find it and enjoy it. Isn’t it fascinating how nature smells?

Now find something that looks incredible. Maybe it’s got great lines, or beautiful colors, or has an indescribable quality about it that you find enjoyable or mysterious. Inhale it. Experience it. Don’t walk by without seeing it. It’s here. It’s free. See it.

When you’re done enjoying your stroll, look around at whatever there is to see in your office or home. Does it look the same? If you are like me, it doesn’t. Somehow things that we don’t think of as alive are more alive, aren’t there?  This can be your life if you let it. Remind yourself to see what’s there every day. Practice it. Soon you will see all kinds of things you didn’t see before. Let me know how it goes!


Laura grew up with animism. She is a co-founder of Pan Society, a licensed clinical social worker, author of Angel Whispering: How to Talk to Your Spiritual Guides and How To Be A Panist: A Guide to Creating a Modern Animist Lifestyle. She also facilitates spiritual pilgrimages. For more information about Laura Giles, see her websites at http://www.lauragiles.org

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