The human eye, the only organ visible on the surface of the body, is considered by many to be the most important sensory organ because of its ability to combine physical with emotional sight. We can look at a front porch lovingly decorated for the fall season, and the mere glimpse of it has the power to touch our hearts and transport us to another time, place, and emotion. The sense of sight is also the sense of choice for scientific observation where everything is expressed visually in the form of numbers and formulas. Our brain is always conscious of what our eyes see. However, that doesn’t mean there are no mistakes in how the brain interprets those sights. There are times when our thoughts rather than our eyes determine what we see. Look at the object below. What do you see? Turn away for a few minutes, close your eyes, and then return and look at the object again. Do you see something different? Is this really just one picture, or is there more to see? This exercise is just one example of the wisdom of using more than just our sense of sight when we look at life.
Although our eyes see only colors and light and dark, they can discern shapes, motion, and proportion because they are able to work and move in unison with the body’s systems of balance and motion. Thus our eyes are helpful with body awareness, a useful tool in mindfulness. Knowing more about how our eyes perceive the world may furnish us with the tools we need to ease into quiet intimacy with our spirit. For example, colors can affect mood. Red is considered to increase activity and restlessness, which can be helpful in increasing energy and strength. Orange tends to create enthusiasm. Yellow exudes a sense of optimism, while green is relaxing, and blue is cool, encouraging contemplation. White is associated with spiritual reflection. Black stands most often for human suffering and sorrow. Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh expressed his feelings about the night sky by saying “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.” Those familiar with his work are well aware how observing a starry night inspired his art.
This is the fifth in the series exploring the five senses and their roles in our mindfulness practice. Clearly, human beings are capable of complicated and nuanced behaviors. Committing to a daily practice of time spent in contemplation can assist us in navigating our personal spiritual journey.