Florets: How To listen With Your Eyes



1. closely clustered small flowers that make up the flower head of a composite flower, as the sunflower. [1]

2. The rich and intricate detail discovered when we listen with our eyes to the soul of something or someone.

3. The joyous little ‘aha’ moments of discovery experienced through deep feminine seeing, through listening to the soul of things.

Passing through the Champagne-Ardennes region of France on our pilgrimage to Jerusalem we have begun to pass many sunflower fields. These bursts of brilliant yellow give a welcoming instant ‘facelift’ especially when walking through drizzle, rain, grey skies, cold and mud.

Sunflowers bring a smile to my face even when the sun isn’t shining. Richebourg, France.

Sun People

Sun flowers have a personality of their own. With their comparable human height and their cheery faces they look like they have gathered all together in a field so that they can watch some heavenly spectacle taking place.

Unlike humans who may gather to witness an occasional solar eclipse, these sun people are daily vigilantly tracking the golden orb as it makes its way across the sky.


In fact, the French word for sunflower is tournesol, which means ‘turned toward the sun’. Through observation the French would have noticed that young sunflowers face east at dawn and then slowly turn west as the sun moves across the sky. During the night, they slowly turn back east to begin the cycle again. This phenomenon of sunflowers tracking the sun is called heliotropism. [2]

Sunflowers, or as they are known in France as tournesol, or ‘turned to the sun’ can teach us to look at the soul of things.

Growing Towards The Sun

Researchers have found that the daily turning happens through the plant growing. During the day time the stem grows on the east side as it turns to the west and at night time the west side of the stem grows at it slowly turns back to the east. [3]

Flower Power

Sunflowers are solar powered or powered by the sun as they grow. The sun has an interesting effect in that it banishes the darkness of the night. Even at night time the sun reflecting on the moon is responsible for early pilgrims being able to see their way at night travelling on a full moon.

The sun illuminates so that we can see through darkness and gain clarity. It is a metaphor that I will use throughout this article as we discover how the more we look the more infinitely complex, rich and satisfying life can become.

When you look more closely you will discover that a sunflower is actually thousands of tiny flowers or florets in a flower. A floret is also one of those aha moments of discovery when we have looked a little deeper.


If you happen to look closely at a sunflower head, as I have being able to get close and personal with these people, you will notice something interesting.

Each sunflower head is made up of thousands of tiny flowers! The petals we see on the edges of the head are called ray florets. They can’t reproduce. Those in the middle are called disc florets, which can reproduce and each floret can produce a seed. [4]

God is in the Detail

You may have heard this saying before. It has been attributed to a number of individuals, including the German-born architect Ludwig Miles van der Rohe. Mies along with Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Frank Loyd Wright, was widely regarded as one of the pioneers of modernist architecture. [5]

Modernist architecture to many may seem quite stark and bland. It is known for its strong bold forms, yet when you ‘chunk it down’ there is great beauty to be found in the small details. Details such as the junctions between parts of the building for instance.

Windows To The Soul

Eyes are windows to the soul. They can help us to see to the soul of things.

Often our eyes can reveal so much about something that we may have missed at a passing glance. When we look deeply into something it begins to unfold and reveal itself.

The eye scans from general to specific. Sunflower field in the background near Faverolles, France.

General to Specific

Often we observe objects from general to specific. For instance, as we approach a sunflower field we may look over its bright vastness of yellow. As we get closer we may begin to see the stalks separate from the sunflower heads. Many people go this far down the rabbit hole of observation.

Observing objects from general to specific may be innate response. It may go back to prehistoric times when our ancestors may have been in a a cave and learned to discern very quickly through silhouettes if what is entering the cave entrance is a saber-toothed tiger looking for dinner or a slow moving ground sloth that will be tonight’s dinner for the humans.

We may also then learned through gathering to be more specific. Not all berries and mushrooms are edible, some may even kill. Learning to look at the details meant the difference between an incredible mushroom trip, tonight’s dinner or keeling over.

Flowing Towards Feminine

You could almost say the act of observation is like the sun moving across the sky and we are the sunflowers tracking its movement. You may also say that we move from masculine seeing to feminine seeing, sensing, feeling, hearing. From brutish basic form to intricate rich detail.


Similarly, when we look more deeply into something we may discover so much more. It is only when we look more intently and deeply into the head of a sunflower that we discover the thousands of little florets.

Detail dispels ignorance and creates connection.

Florets are those little ‘aha’ moments that when we go in deep we grow seeds of discovery, curiosity and understanding.

This begins the process of learning as we begin to look more deeply into something as we search for its soul.

When we listen with our eyes we discover the essence, the soul that is brought to light. Jessains, France.

Turned Towards The Soul

As you may have discovered earlier, tournesol, the French word for sunflower means ‘turned toward the sun’. The sun is what illuminates the soul of anything. It is what gives it clarity.

By looking more deeply you can begin to be turned towards the soul of it.

Drawing Out The Soul

A really simple meditative exercise that can help you to focus your attention and discover the soul of something is drawing.

Find a quite spot, some paper and pen and start to draw a simple object, maybe a flower in a vase.

Begin by drawing the outline or silhouette of the object. Go from the outer edges so that you can experience its form or shape. Think about the preheistoric people in their cave who could only see the outline.

Then imagine that as the beast drew closer the light of a flaming torch began to illuminate the details. Begin to go from general shape to specifics.

Notice the subtle change of light on the flower petals of highlight and shadow that create form. Be aware of the change in colours and hues of the petals.

Go deeper and notice the ‘texture’ that creates the ribbed structure of the petals and the nobly centre of the flower. As you begin to go deeper you will begin to separate all the parts and get a greater appreciation of the parts but also how they come together to create a whole.

The Essence

What you are aiming to see is the essence or soul of the flower. That somewhat undefinable, some may say ‘unseeable’ part of it. It is a part of the flower you won’t always see with your eyes, but with simple yet focused seeing you may just hear its soul speaking.

This may sound a little bit ‘woowoo’ but before you are quick to dismiss, just think about a portrait artist.

A great portrait artist is able to capture the soul through drawing it out as she works. Jessains, France.


A portrait artist doesn’t always capture a ‘true’ likeness of the person. A really great portrait artist though is able to capture their essence or soul.

Through a number of means from previous research, careful observations and speaking to the sitter during the sessions they can get to ‘know’ the person on a level that eyes alone may fail to see.

Drawing Out Beauty

They are able to draw out the beauty of their subject. Through listening and conversation they can see their soul and hear it speaking.

A really good artist can draw with their smile, ears, eyes and voice. They can express the soul through their own expression and interaction with the subject. Through the art of careful listening they can piece together bits of incoming detail and information to create a masterpiece.

Creating A Masterpiece

You too have the capacity to be a great artist. It takes becoming a good conversationalist. Everyone can become a great conversationalist. It requires you to listen with your eyes.

Listening With Your Eyes

Listening with your eyes is about allowing a space for conversation to flourish. You begin to draw a conversation as you do a flower. You can start from general to specific. You can begin to flesh out the general form and direction of a conversation. Negative spaces in drawing are like those pauses in conversation that allow you to listen to the other person. These spaces of silence are the drawing bard that allows for drawing a conversation to take place.

Through the art of listening and being fully engaged in a conversation you begin to draw out the soul of the other person. Often a conversation can change direction as the other person becomes more comfortable as you become fully present This gives them the space for them to open up to you.

This allows you to begin to draw out the details naturally. You begin to notice the person’s body language. Their stance. A person’s stance tells a lot about their circumstance that language alone can conceal.

Look into their eyes, study their facial expressions and the way they are animated or not when they speak. Take note of all the little details before you draw any conclusions.

Often the more we listen with our eyes the more we can find the true essence or soul of a conversation, or thing.

Learn to listen with your eyes.  It can make life an exciting adventure. It can help to create great empathy and connection both with others and the world in which you live in. It can open up doors like a flower unfolding. It can open you up to a more enriching life filled with countless little florets.

Through listening with your eyes through engaging conversation that is about empathy and listening, you can draw out the sol or illuminated essence, the soul of others. You can experience magnificent florets, or those tiny joyous ‘aha’ moments of discovery that comes from these interactions.

Flower People

By learning to illuminate darkness you can become like the sunflowers of the field. Ever growing towards the light that sustains them.

May you learn to listen with your eyes, to discover the essence of things, to be illuminated by curiosity, empathy, knowledge, discovery, connection and joy. To draw out the sol, the sun that illuminates the soul.

May your life be showered with a gloriously endless stream of florets, tiny little flowers, little aha moments that make life worth loving.



1. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/floret?s=t

2. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/05/488891151/the-mystery-of-why-sunflowers-turn-to-follow-the-sun-solved

3. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/05/488891151/the-mystery-of-why-sunflowers-turn-to-follow-the-sun-solved

4. http://mentalfloss.com/article/68726/10-glorious-facts-about-sunflowers

5. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Mies_van_der_Rohe







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