To See a Flower

flower.1I remember many years ago listening to a talk by the Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hahn about mindfulness meditation as an effective method to re-connect to life in a more joyful, peaceful way.

He spoke about the practice of meditating on the beauty of a single flower by encouraging us to “look deeply” at an actual flower in front of us and to see it as if for the first time.  I followed this practice and quickly realized not how beautiful flowers are but how beautiful this one rose-colored tulip was, standing straight and tall right in front of me.  I thought about how often I have looked at, and walked past tulips, many flowers for that matter without ever really seeing them.

Children know about this experience of looking deeply and really seeing.  It may be a leaf on the street or a piece of colored string lying on a chair and suddenly they are stopped in their tracks by the simple beauty of it.  We watch their eyes light up and smile at them because they see the uniqueness and beauty in the most ordinary things which, as we grow older we begin to take for granted.

In Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction workshops, one of the exercises is offering raisins to participants following about 20 minutes of silent meditation.  I ask them to simply hold the raisin in their hand and, take their time to actually see its color and shape.  I ask them to feel its weight and texture and then enlist the other senses by smelling and rubbing it over their lips very slowly before resting it on their tongue prior to chewing it.  Doing this we bring all our awareness to this one everyday act rather than the automatic eating we usually do. After this exercise folks who have eaten raisins all their life have a new experience.  One said “well I didn’t realize that two raisins could taste so differently” and another replied “I don’t remember a raisin tasting so good”.  Like a child looking at the most common things as if seeing them for the first time we too can re-connect to recognizing the beauty in the ordinary things and events of our everyday life when we bring a curious non-judgmental attention to it.  And as a result live with more appreciation of the gift of this moment, and our life as it is.


  1. A great reflection. Pre-K children are my favorite group, they are filled with wonder and awe… everything rocks their world, a perfect presence.

    • Yes Russ and good to see you here. Over time, wounding and the importance of self development we lose this clear eyed seeing…hopefully we clear away the veil at some point and have fresh eyes again..then everything sparkles

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