GOING ON THE LOOKOUT

At first i wondered how animals used their panoramic vision to look at everything, because as soon as i tried to be aware of something on the periphery, my focus always went to that point, (or to anything else moving or bright).

So i fixed my eyes on a point straight in front, and then directed my attention to a point on the periphery, at about 30° up on one side. I immediately realised i could see points on the peripheries at 30° up on both sides simultaneously, still physically focusing on a boring focal point in front.

And it was so interesting, it often changed my mood, even after just 30 seconds, ... so i wanted to do it more and find out what was happening. Slowly, over a period of around three weeks, i chose different angles and looked over all the points of the compass.

Then one day i realised that if i looked at a blank space in the sky, i could see the whole oval shape of my field of vision with multiple things moving inside it. (I was outside, obviously, things don't move much indoors).

It only lasted a few seconds, and then my mind started thinking again, realising i hadn't been thinking and feeling in my normal way, what had happened? See for yourself.

Doing It
I don't think it's necessary for beginners to take three weeks. All human babies do it. Its easy, natural, a human birthright.

Animals often use their senses in a panoramic way for very short, intense periods. It is a knack rather than something to be found by concentration. Short half minute periods are best to start with.

Go outside where things are moving – find a blank wall, or a monotonous area of sky, any area which has no focal point, and look directly at it, but then concentrate on everything else.

If there is no monotonous area – then find a boring, neutral, and motionless focal point straight ahead, a post or pillar, anything which isn't interesting and doesn't move, fix your eyes on it but be aware of, and on the look out for everything else.

Look at everything you can see, and see everything you're looking at. Wait until it all merges into the oval shape of your field of vision, then look at the whole picture. If you are outside, you will see lots of things moving, just notice them all but don't look at them. Keep looking at the whole picture without focusing on anything specific.

My experience is that instead of looking at the world like a T.V. screen, it feels as though i'm right up inside the screen. The normal feeling of a subject looking at an object is considerably different. Panoraming is a 'being with' what i'm seeing, instead of looking at it.

Occasionally we have an intense experience of pleasure and fulfilment, when looking into the distance over the ocean, at the stars, or with a panoramic landscape. At those times, we're not focusing on anything specific, we're just amazed at everything, and it opens our senses in a special way.

By using our eyes in a panoramic way, we can find a degree of this amazement, without having anything awesome or beautiful to sense.

This way of sensing belongs with love and empathy as a state of being where the subject is intimately involved with the object.

Fine Tuning
The panoramic feeling is especially stimulated by paying attention all around the periphery. This makes sense: sometimes movement starts in the central area of vision, ... when something within the oval field of vision starts moving, but very often things start to move into our field of vision first from behind, at the peripheries.

Staying Still
There are some ways animals and humans can use their panoramic vision when moving, walking or cycling (when driving it would be dangerous), which can cause a similar feeling of 'being with' rather than 'looking at'.

But when you are moving, there is less awareness of everything else which is moving. It's the awareness of every small change and movement which is vital for survival, ... and to do this in the optimal way, as animals do it, be motionless and hold the head still.

The Exploration Exercises discuss a variety of methods to encourage seeing in a panoramic way.

Please continue with The Simple Sense of Now

Back to Chapter One : The Panoramic Senses