Mindful Seeing: What Are You Missing Out On?

A woman practicing mindful seeing

Written by Dr. Paul Kelly, C.Psych.              May 20, 2024

Key Points

Mindful Seeing is easy. It will help you:

  • Freshen your Perception
  • Connect with Friends
  • Take a Stress Break.


Table of Contents


What is Mindful Seeing?

A grandmother looks at her new grandchild for the first time. Full attention. Deep affection. Endless patience. This is mindful seeing.

A grandmother looks at her new grandchild for the first time


You stop to look at cherry blossoms in the spring—the colours, the delicate shapes, and how the light changes with the breeze.cherry blossoms in the spring

This is mindful seeing.

Sometimes the world captures our attention.  It draws us in.

It is like a film has come off our eyes. And, everything is vivid, clear, and alive.

This is mindful seeing. This kind of seeing can happen spontaneously.

It can also be cultivated. Try Mindful Seeing now.


Practice Mindful Seeing

You can learn mindful seeing right now. Let’s try it together.

  • Lift your eyes from this page or screen, and simply look around. I will do the same.
  • Pretend that you don’t know the names of what you see.
  • Just take in what your eyes bring youcolour, shape, shading, texture.
  • Be curious about variations in colour tone, shading, brightness.
  • Then let your eye move to the next thing that catches your attention.
  • Don’t overthink Just take in what your eyes bring to your brain.

When you follow these instructions, you are practicing Mindful Seeing. Let’s learn some more about how it works.


Fresh Perception

Fresh perception involves viewing the world with a sense of novelty and curiosity. We do this naturally when we see things for the first time.  That is why everything is fresh and amazing when you get off a plane in a new country. Our attention is sharper when things are new.

We don’t give things as much attention because our brains have gotten used to things. When that happens, we are on automatic pilot, and the world seems dull. This process is called habituation.

We stop noticing the details because we are used to our surroundings. This process is efficient—the brain doesn’t have to put energy into fresh perception. But there is a cost—our experience becomes dull rather than fresh.



Mindful seeing shakes things up – so your brain takes in what it sees with curiosity and full attention. When you do this, you are cultivating fresh perception.

Fresh perception is like taking a coating off your eyes. When you practice mindful seeing, you can start to experience a deeper sense of wonder and appreciation for everyday objects and scenes. That is the benefit of fresh perception.


Mindful Seeing: Daily Practice Has Big Benefits

It is easy to do. If you do it twice a day, you can change your brain. There are lots of benefits. It will be easier to focus your attention. Your concentration will improve. You will be able to ground yourself and improve your emotional balance. Mindful seeing is a gateway to mindful living. You can do it outside with nature meditation. You can break out of habitual worry and rumination, just by giving your attention to the world that your eyes connect you with.


What People Say About Mindful Seeing?

Riya’s Teacup

“I started practicing mindful seeing. One morning, I held up my teacup to the sunlight. I noticed the delicate cracks in the glaze, the variations in colour, and the play of the sunlight. It was like I saw the cup for the first time. It was precious, not just an ‘old thing.’”


mindful seeing - riya’s teacup


Devan’s Cat

My cat is old and sleeps most of the time. Yesterday, I looked over at my cat. I could see the shading of his fur, the way his whiskers twitched, the way he was stretched out. I just felt appreciation and contentment that he was in my life. Him just there, sleeping and breathing, being himself.”


man looking mindfully at his cat


Emily’s Partner

“My partner and I do mindful seeing together. We make a game of it. She holds my hands. I sit across from her. We don’t talk. For three minutes, we just softly gaze at each other. Sometimes, our eyes meet. Things slow down. I can feel her breathing. It’s hard to explain how good this is for us.”


softly gazing at each other


(These stories are true. I have changed the names and some of the details to protect people’s privacy.)


A Personal Note

Mindful seeing is a big help to me when I need a mental break. It helps me shift from thinking, or let’s face it, from overthinking and worrying.

When I shift my attention to seeing mindfully, my brain calms down. I just take in what I’m seeing: a play of light and shadow on the carpet, some clouds in the sky, or the colour pattern on my water bottle.

I hope that you will give it a try. Try it twice a day, for 3 minutes at a time. Then, you can discover how it can help you to reduce stress and enrich your experience.

Set a reminder on your phone and give it a try. I wish you well.



It is important to me that I give you practical and trustworthy information. That is why I personally selected and reviewed all the sources for this article. My advice is also based on my experience practicing and teaching mindful seeing to patients and therapists. We track progress at The Mindfulness Clinic, so I know brief mindfulness meditations, like mindful seeing, are worth doing.

  • Howarth, Ana, et al. Effects of brief mindfulness-based interventions on health-related outcomes: A systematic review. Mindfulness(2019) 10:1957-1968. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01163-1
  • Schumer, M. C., Lindsay, E. K., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Brief mindfulness training for negative affectivity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(7), 569–583. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000324
  • Altman, Donald. One minute mindfulness. New World Library, 2011.
  • Ameli, Rezvan. 25 lessons in mindfulness: Now time for healthy living. American Psychological Association, 2014.
  • Kaplan, Jonathan S., Urban mindfulness: Cultivating peace, presence & purpose in the middle of it all. New Harbinger Publications, 2010.
  • Farb, N. & Segal, Z. Better in every sense: How the new science of sensation can help you reclaim your life. Little, Brown Spark. 2024.