I've been noticing lately the moments when I have an understanding of something and then observe things that I interpret to support that understanding versus when I observe things and then reach an understanding.
I think the best example I have of this is a snowshoeing trip that Seth and I took last winter for my birthday/solstice/full moon. We rented a Forest Service Cabin for two nights - getting to the cabin required snowshoeing. The cabin a bit of a drive, and we never leave quite as early as we think we will, so when we arrived, the amount of sunlight we had left was limited. However, it didn't seem to be a problem as we only had to snowshoe three miles to the cabin. We started off and after not too long came to an intersection. We looked at the map and found the junction we thought we were at. However, the junction we were at didn't quite match the map. Never mind, we go to the right. So, up the hill we went, but after awhile, we stopped and looked at the map again - this didn't seem right. According to the map we should have been headed down a hill by now. We continued a little farther and then decided we had taken the wrong path and headed back down the hill. By this time it was getting dark, but that was okay because even with a completely overcast sky, the full moon lit up the night. We got back to our intersection, discussed the possibilities for a bit, and then headed down another path. We hiked on that one for quite a ways and then decided that a curve it took didn't seem right. Up until this point, we had resisted getting the compass out as we had packed it into the middle of one of the backpacks. However we decided it was time to get it out - and voila, it told us that the path we were on was not the right one. So, we headed up the hill we had just come down back to our original intersection. This time we used the compass at this intersection too, and only then, our third time being here, did we realize that the we were not at the intersection that we thought we were at. And, the first path that we had chosen had, in fact, been the correct path. So, back up the hill we went. When we finally arrived at the intersection that we had thought we were at before, and we were both exhausted. Seth's boots had worn all the skin off the backs of both of his heels, and, we still had a mile or so left to hike. That last stretch took us forever - we had to stop every few steps to rest. When we arrived at the cabin, I was more exhausted than I had ever been in my life. We had packed our backpacks heavy because we thought we were snowshoeing three miles maximum, and we had covered eight miles by the end of the night.
So, lately I've been noticing how this happens in other instances in my life. I come to an understanding and then observe to support that understanding.
And, I've been practicing. Practicing stilling my brain so that I can just observe, just listen. And, then, only when I have done those things allow myself to come to an understanding. Or, if I'm practicing very hard, not come to and understanding at all, but rather just stay with the observations.