Practicing Mindfulness: Mindful Observing

When it comes to the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it can be easy to begin moving on autopilot. While there’s nothing wrong with relying on routines, taking a moment to pause and recenter is an excellent way to break up that monotony and make yourself fully experience the moment you’re in. If you’re looking for a way to do that today, take a few minutes to try the following Mindful Observing exercise. This is an especially useful practice for people who may not find meditation or visualizations particularly calming. All you need to complete this practice is a window with some kind of a view!

Step 1

Find a space at a window where there are things to be seen outside. This can be a view of anything, whether it’s your backyard, your office window, or even just the street in front of your house.

Step 2

Slowly take in everything there is to see. If you can, try to move away from the normal way you might categorize what you’re looking at. For example, instead of thinking, “bike, tree, mailbox”, try to notice the colors, the textures, the way objects are connected with each other, how they interact, or don’t.

Step 3

Pay attention to the small details, the millions of different things present in this tiny segment of the world you’re looking at. If possible, try to see things from the perspective of someone who’s completely unfamiliar with the scene you’re looking at. What might they be thinking?

Step 4

Take note of the interplay between movement and stasis. What does the grass look like as it’s swaying in the breeze. How do the parts that move interact with more stationary objects? Are there dynamic aspects– people, animals, or vehicles moving through space? How do they change it?

Step 5

Try to simply observe, instead of making a value judgement on what you’re seeing. If an aspect of your scene is beautiful to you, ask yourself why. Is it its shape, its movement? If something is ugly to you, try to do the same thing. Take the scene as it is. 

After 5-10 minutes of this, slowly refocus your awareness on whatever you were doing before the practice. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself looking at it with a refreshed pair of eyes!