I was recently driving with one of my students. It was a gorgeous morning with a light fog, the sun was rising, illuminating the golden fields of Corn. He was busy taking pictures of the Corn and the houses and the countryside, while I drove. It has been an interesting experience to spend time with him over the past 6 months. He is from a city in Canada and the Landscape around here is quite foreign to him. Upon arriving in July, he asked, “Was the Corn that high last month?!” I had to laugh and say, “No, Corn grows.”
What a gift to see my Home through new eyes. I am encouraged to be wowed by the fields and the houses I normally drive by. Don’t get me wrong, I Love this area. I have favorite places and Trees that I greet whenever I drive by. Sometimes I go a longer way, just so I can see them. I tend to find Beauty everywhere and am known to fall to my knees in gratitude and awe at the sight of a particular Plant friend or maybe watch in wonder as a trail of Ants carry a ridiculous load.
That being said, spending this time with my student, showed me how I have normalized my surroundings. I don’t understand why, but this seems to be human nature. We see the common as ignorable while the exotic (and what is exotic depends on where you live) as magical, praise worthy, and worth more.
This is something we see often in our society. From the dismissal and even poisoning of some of our most powerful medicines because they grow in our yards. To the wandering eyes of people in long term relationships mesmerized by someone other than their partner. To the dreams of vacations or romanticizing other areas of the world. To the fascination of dieting with entheogens from foreign lands (like Ayahuasca) while ignoring the common, non-psychotropic Plants who can give us just as much, if not more insight and healing. [See the Elder Sacred Plant Initiation]
What this does is creates an endless cycle of more, more. Always looking for something else, often to fill a void, which these only temporarily do. I think we can look around and see how this desire for more plays out in our culture and what the consequences of this paradigm is.
As my student was gawking at our surroundings, he reminded me of innocent perception. Which ironically is one of the first tools I teach in the HEARTransformation Apprenticeship and Plant Communication classes. Innocent perception is the ability to see the world with new eyes, as if this is the first time we are seeing something.
In Plant communication, this allows us to go deeper and deeper with a Plant. So that when we are sitting with Dandelion for the 100th time, we meet ki with the wisdom and knowledge from the previous 99 times AND look at Dandelion as if this is the first. This is very different than going up to Dandelion and thinking “I know you.” When we think we know all about something or someone, we close the doors. We lock them into a box and we often miss the most magical components. Because let’s face it, no one reveals their true magic at the first meeting.
When we are able to greet our daily surroundings (including the people) with innocent perception, we open the doorways of magic. We keep the relationship alive. From this place, appreciation naturally flows. Appreciation is a power tool for our Hearts. According to The HeartMath Solution written by Doc Childre and Howard Martin:
"You can be confident that as you focus on sincere feelings of appreciation, your nervous system will naturally come into balance. Biologically, all of the systems in your body, including your brain, will work in greater harmony. The electromagnetic field radiating from your body will resonate with the ordered, coherent pattern emitted by your heart. And every cell in your system will benefit.
With your body in an improved state of balance, you’ll start to feel better emotionally—and it’s no wonder. Just as appreciation causes the jagged heart rhythms on the graph to relax into an even flow, so your thoughts and feelings begin to interact more smoothly.
Appreciation has a way of smoothing out life’s lumps and bumps. It puts things into perspective, reducing the heaviness and density of stressful thoughts and feelings.”
How do we do this? It’s actually fairly simple, though it is easier to do when things are going well. So that’s a good time to practice and get comfortable with these skills. Then when you think you are having a day from hell or you’re in an argument with your partner, it becomes easier to access innocent perception and appreciation.
For innocent perception, this is mostly choosing to see something with new eyes. Which may mean looking from a different perspective. In Plant communication, we use a loupe to reveal the wonders that our naked eyes often miss. Mostly, this is about attention. Taking the time to really see. Look closely at the creases on your Lover’s face and admire the experiences that brought them. Maybe imagine you are in a coffee shop, when you spot her across the way. What do you notice? In a natural environment, spend time in Nature. Take the time to sit, be still, and simply observe. Or maybe take a photo every day or every hour of a Plant growing.
I know we often are in a rush and can easily dismiss this as not having the time. I think the more we are rushing around, the more important it is that we pause and activate innocent perception. Plus, while it is lovely to spend a good length of time watching Nature, we can be utilizing innocent perception in our daily lives. Like I was doing as I was driving. My teacher, Rocio Alarcón, would say that I was going under the trance of Corn. And I was. Tears were coming to my eyes as I saw the fields glowing. I was seeing each Plant as a prayer for our Mother Earth. Yes, this was GMO Corn; however, you cannot remove the Sacred from Corn Mother.
One of my favorite reminders of innocent perception is the work of Louie Schwartzberg. He uses photography to bring the unseen World of Nature to life. You can see his video on Pollinators here.
Again, I think if we are able to utilize innocent perception, appreciation naturally flows. However, it is helpful to cultivate appreciation. We do this by simply noticing and listing what we appreciate, what we are grateful for. It is a really beautiful thing to share what you appreciate about your Loved ones with them. Or even near strangers. It is amazing how someone lights up when you show appreciation.
I know these seem simple, trust me, they are powerful. Innocent perception and appreciation have the capability of turning the mundane into the extraordinary. Imagine living your life as if you were surrounded by Beauty and Wonder. We are. It is simply a matter of perspective.