“Life Gazing” is a great way to practice Mindfulness — or present moment awareness. Essentially, Life Gazing is stopping our wandering mind and putting our focus and awareness on life all around us.
Life Gazing is like an open-eye meditation where we consciously observe everything we see with acceptance and non-judgment. It can be done no matter where we are. Taking as little as 10 minutes to put our attention on something like clouds moving across the sky, or watching the waves undulate in the ocean, or observing people crossing the street when you’re stopped at a red light will help us become more present in our lives and experience increased awareness.
We don’t realize how much we miss as we move through our day, and the reason is that we’re usually rushing to get to the next moment. Or, when we’re not being a “Future Chaser” — meaning we’re going after the moments that aren’t here yet — we’re often rehashing or lamenting the past, or being a “Past Dweller.” What Life Gazing helps us do is be a “Present Experiencer,” which is being fully present in the moment and experiencing it with total awareness.
Life Gazing also helps us better take in what we’re seeing. Wrote Thoreau, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Life Gazing helps us see things we might be more likely to overlook. When we stop all of our busyness and “doing,” we allow ourselves to be less distracted and more still. Therefore, we notice more. And, in our state of just being, there’s nothing we have to do other than show up for the moments of our lives and observe them with gratitude and appreciation. When we do this, we can feel more relaxed and at ease with ourselves because we have no expectation other than enjoying what life has to offer us. It’s like watching a sunset and taking in its beauty. There’s absolutely nothing we need to do when we’re observing something as magnificent as a sunset but to take in the warmth and radiance it emanates. It’s there to Wow us, and all we have to do is watch.
Life Gazing is something that adds more depth and meaning to our lives because we’re not just engaging with life superficially. It’s very easy to coast along and not let the life going on around us penetrate us more deeply. But, when we’re aware and receptive to the many layers, details and nuances of everyday living, we can have a much deeper appreciation of what life has to offer us and how it affects us. Practicing Life Gazing consistently opens us up to more, and we start to have a more fulfilling and satisfying relationship with the moments of our life. This can definitely affect our energy level as we find ourselves much more stimulated and excited by life.
Here are some more suggestions for Life Gazing:
1. If you’re at work, try to look out a window. If there aren’t any, put your focus on something in the room or office that gets your attention. Try and look at it as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Does it make a sound like a coffee maker, or have a smell like flowers in a vase?
2. If you have an animal, watch it sleep or clean itself. Cats are very fastidious in cleaning between their toes, and it can be fascinating to see how carefully they do it.
3. While you cook, look closely at the food you’re preparing. Fruits and vegetables have interesting shapes and colors. Notice the exotic shapes of dragon fruit or watermelon radish.
4. Nature is filled with many magical wonders to gaze upon, even right in your backyard or from your balcony. If you have a tree, sit under it and gaze up at the light coming through the branches or leaves. If there are birds in the tree, watch how they hop from branch to branch, and listen to the sounds they make. Life Gazing includes taking in the many sounds around us.
5. Look at a family member or friend. Try to see something about them you might not have noticed before. Maybe they’re wearing their hair differently, or have on a new pair of glasses, or a piece of clothing that’s a flattering color. Life Gazing makes us more complimentary of others.
Life Gazing is an invitation to live life more fully and more attentively. It helps you enjoy what you see and take in, and lets you realize new heights in your awareness. Do yourself a favor and take present moment breaks from the demands of everyday life by Life Gazing. You’ll find that your life not only comes more into balance, but you’ll feel much more present and alive. Make sure to put your devices down whenever you can so that you can integrate more Life Gazing into your day. You might discover that what you see Life Gazing is far more beautiful in its realness than anything you can capture from scrolling on your phone or gazing at your computer screen.
By Ora Nadrich
Ora Nadrich is founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and author of Live True: A Mindfulness Guide to Authenticity. A certified life coach and mindfulness teacher, she specializes in transformational thinking, self-discovery, and mentoring new coaches as they develop their careers.