One of the dilemmas of becoming aware of what we’re seeing … is that our brain will almost certainly begin to filter and direct.

I see beauty in why our mind habitually filters and chooses. If a brain doesn’t unconsciously decide what’s important to “tune in” and “tune out” … we can be overwhelmed.

Try having a conversation in a shopping centre food court and asking your brain not to filter out all the sights, sounds, smell and texture you’re experiencing in this moment … yep, and then times that by at least ten for intensity. Most times, we’re pretty lucky that our brain is subconsciously selecting our focus.

Cultivating wider awareness

This neuro-filtering can also come at a price for creativity and finding innovative solutions in our own life and also as a community.

Have you seen the movie Temple Grandin with Claire Danes? It helped me appreciate that diverse ways of processing the world can contribute to innovative and compassionate problem-solving at home and in the wider world.

If we’re lucky enough to be in a school, family or workplace that values diverse thinking, unconventional visions and ‘non-neurotypical’ insights are more likely to be appreciated.

With openness, “outlier” visions can be given a fair hearing, valued and supported in being bought to life in a way that benefits many other people.  At home and work, I see a lot of benefit in the skillset and mindset that Dawna Markova calls “thinking together“.

Collaborating with our own history

I wonder what we filtered out as children, in order to adapt to the world of our parents and caregivers and survive? Now, as adults, what wisdom is still waiting there?

Much of what we saw or envisioned was beyond our power to express or build as a child. Now we can collaborate with our adult self, and choose whether to apply our comparatively greater resources and freedom to bring some of those ideas to life.

In design thinking, this is called ‘the beginner’s mind’. I find visual meditation and journaling often helps me to access unique insights from my own history through a playful combination of words and imagery.

To see like we breathe

In this visual meditation, we begin by inviting awareness of where our eye moves – like our breath, every moment – with our without our conscious thought or direction.

From there, you might enjoy inviting a memory or perception from your childhood to gently observe the insights it offers you in this moment.


Artwork is Claude Monet’s ‘Woman with a parasol – Madame Monet and her son’, courtesy National Gallery of Art Washington.

Thanks to WordPress for the daily prompt, Filter and the discover prompt, Conventional Wisdom.