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To see or not to see....

The more I wander, the more I see, and the more I realise that my seeing is limited. Despite how I try to refine and focus my seeing through greater presence and awareness, I can only ever see a fraction of the whole. And what I see largely depends on my mood, feelings and preferences. As they say, what is seen depends on who is seeing.

I've now arrived back home to beautiful Maleny for a week of connection to place, family, friends and work. It's been an amazing re-entry back to everyday life where I've re-seen the beauty, the life and the GREEN everywhere. It's stark and stunning. As I walked our local rainforest reserve over the last few days, my seeing was fresh and alive, almost as if for the very first time. The forest was bursting with dense green, sound, movement, life. Going away revitalized the intensity in which I could see such a familiar and loved place.

In contrast we've spent the last weeks in central Australia. Stunning but very different country. Still, silent, vast, ancient landscapes. The silence is deep and deafening. Whereas the Sunshine Coast is full of movement and sound - water, trees, animals, birds - central Australia has a profound sense of stillness. I see and listen to both and notice the mood and feelings they evoke. I respond to them both differently - one brings energy, excitement, movement - the other calls for slowness, quiet, solitude. I respond to what they invite (or try to) even when it is unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Like last week when I could sense that I shouldn't climb a mountain (just because it was there, or I could, or I'd planned to, or others were), but instead I listened to some inner sense that was evoked from the wild, windy, vast landscape. Instead of reaching for the summit, I returned from the lookout back down to the canyon below. I spent two hours there held in silence, watching rock wallabies groom themselves in the sun perched on the gorge walls. The stillness, solitude, and holding were all welcomed with gratitude.

When Peter and I run reflective practice workshops we facilitate various processes that help people develop their seeing/observational muscles in different ways using nature as a resource (and then applying the knowledge to social processes). In one activity (drawn on the work of the Proteus Initiative), we invite people to sit in triads and observe a plant in 5 minute increments. Participants observe for polarities (growth - decay, gravity - levity etc), the particulars of the plant - beyond its labels or identification (ie it's an oak tree), and then the metaphor or image it evokes. Each participant notes down their observations and shares what they've seen with their group.

Through this process I am always amazed at how limited my seeing is and how each of us foregrounds a different aspect of the plant. It is humbling to realise that we collectively 'see' broader and more deeply than we ever could individually. And this is especially true in the social field, where seeing is also influenced by values, biases, preferences, judgements and moods. Together we see differently, but this type of seeing also requires time and conscious attention. Not easy to find in our hyper-manic action oriented culture.

When Peter and I return home in mid September, we will be facilitating a series of these reflective practice workshops at our home in Maleny. These full day processes support people working in the social or ecological fields to pause, reflect and develop new ways of seeing that are attuned to living processes. Check out our September and November workshops at the bottom of our homepage here.

With love and warmth till next time,


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