11/02/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Chill Out: Seeing With New Eyes

A monk asks, "Is there anything more miraculous than the wonders of nature?" The master replies, "Yes, your awareness of the wonders of nature." -- Angelus Silesius

We lived in Dartmouth, Devon, on the south coast of England, and each day we would take walks along the gorgeous river Dart to the estuary. One day we were gazing at the water when it struck Ed that although the river always looked the same, day after day, it was no more the same as it was even a second ago. It was constantly changing; always moving, always different.

Which is just like our thoughts and feelings. What we are thinking now instantly becomes a past thought. Our feelings are always changing and moving. Who we are now is not who we were last year, last week, yesterday, even a few minutes ago. Already we have changed, moved to a different place inside ourselves.

When Ed looked at the river it was as if he was seeing with new eyes, free of the clutter of his own ideas, projections, judgments, or conceptions. When we can see in this way we find that the world is not quite as we had imagined it to be.

Normally we are looking through the lens of our own habitual patterns, conditioning, prejudices and needs, through past regrets or future hopes, but without those we find everything is constantly new and unknown. No longer the same boring sameness, each moment is infused with newness.

You can experience this by imagining you have never been here before. Everything you see is completely new to you, completely an unknown waiting to be explored and discovered, whether you are brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, or any other equally mundane act, you can see it completely through new eyes.

All you have to do is pay attention and look without expectation. Through paying attention you see yourself and others and all things just as they are, and you see the inherent beauty within each one.

Being aware in this way extends you beyond yourself. It takes you out of the ego, out of the fixed way you believe things to be, out of self-centeredness and into awareness of connectedness, of yourself in relation to everything and everybody else.

A Walk On The Wild Side

Try taking a walk in nature -- whether it is in a city park, through a wood, on a beach or by a lake. Make this time an opportunity to see with new eyes, and to appreciate what you see: the colors and shapes, the smells and sounds. See the birds or animals, the trees or the water.

Open yourself to the beauty of the natural world. If it is raining then enjoy the feeling of water on your face, appreciate how it is nourishing the earth and the plants; if it is windy then marvel at the power of nature, a force that is beyond your control; if it is cloudy then observe the subtle colors and the softness of the air. Be aware of each footstep.

Although we protect ourselves from nature with raincoats, boots, gloves and hats, we are a part of it and we need the nourishment of the earth, the plants, the sun, the wind and rain. Life is a treasure to be enjoyed. When we see with new eyes it is the greatest of all gifts.