A number of years ago, I was taking a workshop in Red Bank, NJ, and I started my day by taking a walk to the Navesink River with my camera.
I spent the first few minutes looking out over the water, and what initially caught my eye was a black bird sitting on a pole straight in front of me. So I lifted the camera to my face and snapped a photo.
Then I moved the camera down to place the bird at the top of the frame, and noticed an interesting ripple pattern in the lower right corner.
I shifted the camera further (that’s the photo that you see above), and I kept shifting down and to the right until I saw what was creating the ripple. Which was actually not a ripple, but a huge pattern of concentric circles emanating from a central event.
You can see the unfolding sequence for yourself here.
When I thought about it later, I was struck by how easy it is to forget that we are all looking through a particular lens. We don’t literally have a camera stuck to our face to remind us, and so we forget. We think we’re seeing the whole picture, and maybe it’s just the first thing that caught our attention, or the only thing that we’re able to see right now.
If we pay close attention to what’s in our field of vision, we might have the capacity to notice that something on the periphery is calling to us.
If we’re willing to allow ourselves to follow that, trusting the experience we’re having and following our instincts, we might be utterly surprised to find ourselves witnessing a miracle in the lower right corner.
A miracle that was happening the whole time. All you have to do is move the lens.
We are constantly processing sensory information at a subconscious level, based on patterns that we learned when we were very young. These patterns may focus us on certain pieces of information at the expense of others.
The practice of Following Your Sensations allows you to experience life in a fresh way by bringing your sensing out of the subconscious and into the foreground,
Who knows what miracles are happening right underneath your nose?!
Here’s the practice:
At least once each day, consciously attend to the information coming through your senses. Notice:
- What do I see?
- What do I hear?
- What sensations of touch am I receiving?
(can include your feet on the ground, the feeling of clothing or the breeze on your skin — anywhere that you are in physical contact with something outside of yourself)
- What do I taste?
(even if you’re not currently tasting something with your mouth…what taste is inside your mouth?)
- What do I smell?
After you have systematically gone through each sense, allow yourself to notice which sense is pulling you most strongly in this moment.
Focus your attention for a few minutes on following the evolving sensations of that sense.
You may want to use a small notebook or journal to note your impressions after you’ve finished the exercise.
Try it for a week or for the month, and see what comes into focus for you.