Mindful Of HOW You See
Objectivity is the subject’s delusion that observing can be done without him. Heinz von Forester
The observer is always part of what is observed. You can’t take you out of what you see; your perception is created by subjective you. Whatever you see is what you see. What you see is not what everyone else sees; and it is not all there is. To be a self-aware observer is to be mindful of how you see what you see. Mindful is defined as heedful, attentive, careful, “cautiously attentive”. Not just being attentive, being cautiously attentive. This blog is a reminder.
Most of us are aware that what we see is not all there is. But this awareness gets lost in most of our observations. We usually see what we want to see and don’t see what we don’t want to see and ignore what we can’t see. And what we see is the tip of the iceberg. How you see is explained:
In all visual things, there is a hidden wholeness. Thomas Merton
Perceptions are portraits not photographs. Daniel Gilbert
We are seeing only snapshots, not the whole picture. Self-awareness may be an oxymoron. To be totally self aware, you need to be aware of your unconscious mind and know all of your cognitive biases. Paying attention intentionally to your unconscious mind and cognitive biases may be too much to expect. Total mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. I wonder if that is possible.
What is possible is being aware that your perceptions are not photographs. You are not only the one taking the picture, you are also the camera. Portraits might be a useful metaphor for self-awareness. As an observer of my life, I am also the camera taking the snapshots. Even with a wide-angle lens, I am not seeing the whole picture.
To portray as a portrait is to depict or represent pictorially; make a picture of. My observation is making a picture of reality; it represents reality to me. My “portrait map” is not the territory. This is obvious when you realize that everyone else has their own map of the same territory. Their observation depicts a different picture of reality. And no one sees the hidden wholeness.
Subjectivity is the cause of our restricted self-awareness. Subjective is defined as: proceeding from or taking place within a person’s mind such as to be unaffected by the external world. We see with our minds, not with our eyes. Therefore, being a self-aware observer is being aware of what is taking place in our minds.
We tend to see more through thoughts and opinions than through our eyes. Jon Kabat-Zinn