May 26, 2022

Expanding your senses


Back in 2019, I spent some time over in the United States, and one night there I woke to the sound of rain outside the window, an owl hooting into the darkness, the rustling of the breeze in the trees outside the house. It was restful but I could not find my way back to sleep. The rain reminded me of home, and I lay there in the darkness thinking peacefully about my home in New Zealand. 

In my mind, I got into our car, with the driver’s seat on the right (not left) side, and started up the engine. I imagined I was in the city of Dunedin, and pulled out onto the road, driving through the city and out onto the highway that would take me along the familiar road south. I drove the whole way in my mind, seeing each town along the way, stopping at Lake Waihola as I always did when I made the actual trip, climbing back into the car and driving on to the next town, and the next, and the next, enjoying the familiar twists and turns of the road, raising my hand as I always did in greeting to the blasted tree that stands sentinel on a hill, one lone branch still raised in greeting, or perhaps blessing. 

I fell asleep again just after making the turnoff to the road where we’d last lived. 

Visioning can be grounding.

Now, you may think this was the least grounded thing I could have done, considering it was all imaginary, all in my mind perhaps. But in truth, it was grounding – placing me again amongst the landscape I love, settling me in geography I know, and steadying me. 

And it was all possible because of paying attention. 

How often do you get in your car, strap on your seat belt, pull out into traffic, and your mind isn’t on your trip, your driving, or even so much the traffic around you? You drive on auto-pilot, thinking about other things entirely. Perhaps what you’ll be doing once you’re where you’re going, perhaps what you need to pick up for dinner, perhaps something else altogether. 

In fact, how often are you really present where you are, focused on what you’re doing? How often do you really pay attention to the moment in which you’re living? 

Pay attention.

Anxiety and worry creep into our lives when we forget to pay attention. When we let our attention wander away from where we are to things that have either happened already, or have yet to come to pass. We’re not, on the whole, so good at paying attention, us humans. Even though we know we feel more connected when we are mindful of where we are, who we are, and what we’re doing. We feel connected. We feel part of something bigger than ourselves, and we feel good when we pay attention, when we expand our attention to what is around us, and to ourselves right there where we are. We relax. (Unless of course, we’re in danger, which is also when we want to be paying attention). 

Most of us are out of the habit of paying attention. I could never have made that trip in my imagination that night if I hadn’t been paying attention while doing the actual drive all those times. If I’d daydreamed my way through that two hour drive, I wouldn’t now be able to recall with perfect clarity the size and shape of the hills, the old sod cottage at the side of the road, the way one particular long curve of the road cups an area of land that feels more joyful and peaceful than any other on the trip. It would be a blur instead of still alive inside me. 

Train yourself to be present and take notice.

Paying attention is an antidote to anxiety, to worry. It places you inside your body and inside the moment. The past is done, and the future is not yet come when you pay attention to where you are right here and right now. 

Where are you right now? Look up. Look around the room you’re in. Notice the things in it. Notice the colours, the textures of the things. Notice how the light comes in the windows; see the shadows play on the walls in the breeze. Can you feel the breeze? Is it warm against your face, or is it cool? What are you wearing? Feel the texture of the fabric against your skin. Pay attention to it. Close your eyes. What can you smell? What can you hear? What can’t you hear? Feel yourself sitting or standing right where you are, with all these things happening around you. This is the world, this moment, these things. This is where you are, and you are part of this. Breathe out. Relax. Notice it all. 

Everywhere you go today, pay attention. What do you see? What do you hear? Observe it all. Notice it. Live in every moment you find yourself in. Breathe it in. Live in it. Pay attention. 

This is how to be magical.

You are waking up. You are alive. You are part of this world and you are not asleep. You are here. 

And, believe it or not, this is the first best step towards living a soul-guided life, a life where magic, real magic, exists, where you come into flow with your true soul purpose and begin to see that there is more around you than most people are willing to see or admit. Our world is a big, astonishing place. Let’s learn to see it, and in doing so we will take our place within it. Where we belong.  

There was the well, the lid still up, the water a dark, cold, deep, and mysterious funnel into the depths of the earth. She looked away from it, her eyes still closed. There was the first circle of beds, the plants that had been cut back for winter now showing their first tentative shoots of green as they woke and felt blindly for the sun.

There was the second ring of beds, where the rosemary, Erin’s favourite, stretched its roots and limbs, coming out of its winter dream.

And the third circle of beds, most of them empty, waiting, the soil full of potential, ready to press around new seedlings, to feed and nurture them.

And there was the stone wall that enclosed Ash Cottage’s garden. There was the glasshouse and potting shed built into it, and the grapevine that was also shaking off its winter stupor.

There were the apple and pear trees espaliered against the back wall where the sun warmed the stones behind them and the buds of their new blossoming.

There was her garden all about her, and Erin looked around it in her mind, smelling the plants and soil, feeling the breeze, looking upon the plants, breathing it all in. Breathing it all in.

And so, it was only a short step, and she was in another garden, where the layout was the same, but this one was wholly of her own devising. Except, she thought, gazing about it – she may have woven it from sensation and imagination, but she did not bring the level of detail it had to it. That was the magic, she thought. Whether it was in an inner, outer, or other world, it was real. On some level, it was real.

Erin, The Rising, Ch 32

Katherine Genet is the author of the Wilde Grove fiction series. She has been walking a pagan path for 30 years and is a shamanic Druid, spirit worker, and priestess of  Elen of the Ways.

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  1. Paula

    Beautiful awareness! Thank you for bringing it forward. Connectedness is what sustains us, being present is the gift.

    Love what you wrote, here and in your books. I honor and appreciate being connected to other like minded individuals.

  2. Dar Connor

    I can’t wait to be in the Wilde Grove again!! =)

    Thank you for a great read! I am definitely going to try this!

    I’ve been practicing your tips around centring, grounding and shielding and am getting better every day!

    Looking forward the read more!

  3. Joy Boughey

    I am absolutely thriving on your magical writings, your stories: thank you, blessings on your way!

    • Kate

      Thank you! Very happy you’re enjoying them ?


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