Exercise for Refining the Heart as An Organ of Perception

  - from The Secret Teachings of Plants by Stephan Harrod Buhner

 

Go to a place in nature that you like (take a notebook with you). Choose a place you have been before, one with which you have some familiarity. Find the particular part of this place that you like most and let yourself relax into it.  Sit down, really let yourself get comfortable.

How does this place feel? Try to describe it in words. Be as specific as you can. Go on in your journal at length if you need to.  Write down everything that comes to you, no matter how silly it sounds.

When you are done, allow your eyes to rove, to be drawn to whatever thing in this place that is most interesting to you.  Perhaps it is a rock, a plant or a tree.

Look at it.  Let your eye explore it.  Notice everything about it.  Look closely at the colours, the shape, how it rests on or grows in the ground.  See its relation to the air around it, to the plants, water, soil and rocks.

Now, notice what feelings you have about this thing and the parts you have noticed. Write this down.

Is there any part of what you are looking at that you like more?  That you like less?  Can you determine why?  Do all the parts of what you are looking at generate the same feeling or emotion? Or do they generate different emotions?  Write everything down in your notebook in detail.

Do this with at least two other things that you see.  Makes sure that one of them is a plant.  You can get up close if you want to, place your eye on a level with its leaf, take an insect's view of its plain.  How is the plant shaped, how does it feel to your fingers, how does it smell?  What emotions do each of these generate in you?  Write everything down.

 

Now go again to another natural place and get comfortable.  Does the second place feel different from the first place?  Is there a name you can give the feeling you had at the first place? A name you can give the second?  Names that will make clear the difference in feeling that you perceive?  If you can't think of a word, make something up.

 

When you have finished with this, find something else your eye is drawn to and write down everything that you feel and perceive. Do this as well with two other things, at least one of them a plant.

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