This post forms part of a serialisation eventually building into a complete reference on Creative Journaling and the writer's notebook. One that will demonstrate how to journal in order to improve creativity and effectiveness of artists, writers or anyone needing to be creative.
This game is an exercise on learning how to become aware of the world or rather how to achieve awareness, by approaching observations from an unusual direction.
How to play
Find a busy spot. This could be a shopping mall, bar, airport, street corner, auction room etc; basically anyplace where there is a fair bit of activity.
Then for a while, sit or stand in that location with your eyes closed. You may find this game easier if you wear a pair of mirrored or very dark sunglasses.
Breathe slowly whilst you sit quite still, and listen to the world bustling around you. Listen for the small events occurring around the more obvious events; different shoe sounds on the pavement, different walking gaits of the owners of those shoes, different urgencies in the spoken word, bird song, mechanical devices etc.
With your mind’s eye, feel the ripples of unseen events; the crowd parting before the urgent strider, the anxiety of over-laden shoppers, tired bodies dropping into chairs.
Notice the air around you and how it changes as someone passes close by.
Breathe in the aromas drifting by and catch any emotions they raise within you. Visualise people with strong scents; a tramp, a beautiful person, a mechanic? Think on the significance of your aroma caricatures of people.
Spread your mind and "feel" the thoughts and emotions of the people around you. Concentrate on one or two particularly ‘obvious’ people at a time, visualise what they might be doing just from the sounds you are hearing. Keep your eyes closed but within your mind "look" at the world generated by the senses available to you. Pay attention to the colours you ‘see’ as you ‘look’ around with your mind.
After ten minutes, sooner if you feel compelled to, make a journal entry detailing observations, things learned, what offended, what surprised and what thoughts linked you to your past.
What colours tinged your thoughts as you looked at the world in this way? Write about those colours.
The purpose of the game
This game is designed to heighten awareness of the world around you. It does this by removing the visual input to the brain and so forcing it to evaluate the current situation using the only senses available to it; those of hearing, smell, touch and thought.
The human brain mainly uses visual information in order to evaluate where we are, what we are doing and if we are in any risk of being harmed. In the normal (sighted) situation, hearing and smell become secondary inputs informing us of danger or the location of aromatic food. Once sight is removed, the brain tries to gain information on our situation from the other senses. This is like riding a bike for the first time, and your mind has to pay particular attention to your senses in order to do this; which is why you are aware of the air moving across your face when someone passes close by, something you would never notice if your eyes were open.
"We simply allow our awareness to include hearing once again."
John Kabat-Zinn, “Coming to our senses”
Whilst being aware of the other sensations, we can notice more readily, or become more aware of, small events occurring around us, events that would normally be overlooked. With practice your command of the secondary senses of hearing, smell and touch will improve and you only have to momentarily close your eyes in order for your awareness to spread into the world around you.
After going out and doing this exercise, please share with us, in the comments area below, how it worked for you and anything special that occurred during your experience.
Photo credit: I just needed a different perspective, by Sadie Hernandez.
"Mind training games: In the dark with your mind open" by Andy Shackcloth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.