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Realize/Real Eyes: Shifting Perceptions

Seeing More "Reality"

The Pink Fleshy Fish Lips

When we write our newsletters we always try to find a photo or piece of art to illustrate whatever topic we’re exploring. This month we’d decided to write about shifting perceptions but hadn’t yet found a fitting image. Right after tabling that task, as Rebecca closed the photoshop program on her computer to open a word doc, she was suddenly assaulted by a disturbing image on her screen–pink fleshy fish lips peaking out from below a black video frame!

What The Mind Sees and What Is Actually There

Tara Brach Offering a Welcoming Gesture
The video frame over the Fish Lips image

Alarmed, Rebecca’s mind tried to figure out what it was seeing, rapidly scanning the image then moving that frame to what was behind, she laughed out loud to see a picture of Tara Brach, the renowned mindfulness teacher, extending her hands in a welcome gesture.

Tara Brach Meditation Teacher

Realize=Real Eyes
What better illustration of the fallacy of the mind and perception?! We had decided to write about this after Rebecca’s friend Anna, during a conversation on the topic, playfully threw out the expression “Realize=Real Eyes”, referring to Alchemy of the Heart in which Michael Brown talks about disrupting the default modes of “seeing” that blind us to what is actually before our eyes.

Lyrics to Songs By Tupac and Pink Floyd
We were so tickled by that play on words that we did a quick search and discovered that musicians such as rapper Tupac Shakur, metal band Machine Head, and psychedelic rock’s Pink Floyd, have included it in their lyrics.

Real Lies
Oddly enough, the musicians all added Real Lies to the phrase which actually makes its own kind of sense. We are talking about perception after all! If there’s one thing that is, in our opinion, most susceptible to distortion, it’s perception. All of the biases to which human minds are prone (confirmation bias, affirmation bias, negativity bias, etc.) illustrate the challenge we have with apprehending what is “real” and “true”.

Moving Away From Just Identifying the Problem
Nevertheless, we, ourselves, don’t want to just identify but also to move away from perceptual distortions. Especially after the debilitating distress we’ve been experiencing in recent years from focusing on how these have infected public discourse–polarization, fake news, big lies, alternative realities, etc. (we also own that that is, in and of itself, a perception!).

Moving Toward Real Eyes
We want to move toward ways to “Real Eyes”–to see beyond what we expect and become aware of other possibilities. Of course, the way we, ourselves, do that is through art–using art to play with and shift our default modes of perception.

Warmly, Rebecca and Gioia

Art Activity
Look around your immediate environment and notice what comes to your attention. Then look again and see something you hadn’t picked up the first time. Draw a quick sketch of that thing. Once you’re done, go touch that thing.

Notice any differences between your impressions before and after. Consider that all of these perceptions–the seeing, the drawing, the touching–have their own “reality” that then morph into other realities. 

You can also come to one of Rebecca’s new free workshops “Art for Self-Discovery: How to Analyze Your Art and Learn More About Yourself”.  Click here for instructions to access the next one Sunday, February 26, 2023  at 1 pm ET.

Dedication to Tyre Nichols

Tyre Nichols killedJan 10, 2023 by Memphis police

We present another one of our perceptions.  We believe that African-Americans, especially men, are violently persecuted in the United States as a result of hundreds of years of systemic racism that has shaped the way we all see other humans (of all colors). 

We are personally committed to trying to change that–not only by commemorating Tyre, George Floyd, Rodney King, and so many more, and to honor Black History month that starts tomorrow–but also by actively trying manage our perceptions so that we are humanizing others rather than succumbing to the tendency to dehumanize them.