SEEING EVERYTHING

This page develops Going on the Lookout from Chapter One.

Introduction

Over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, the time spent on, and intensity of focused visual attention has steadily increased. From fashioning stone-axes and aiming arrows; to reading and writing, television and now, the 6 x 3 inch cell phone.

Around 12 years ago, i started experimenting with how to use panoramic vision like some birds – ducks, blackbirds, blue tits and pigeons – or horses and deer.

The Practice – Phase One: Seeing Everything

I described the central method in Going on the Lookout.

Generally, we are so trained to focus, that as soon as something moves we look directly at it, and this dominates and overwhelms our panoramic awareness.

To overcome this habitual focusing – 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 with your eyes, 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, on the look out for everything else.

I described how we sometimes spontaneously experience panoramic seeing, looking into the distance with a landscape or seascape – so go somewhere with a view and do it.

Another ideal situation, is to lie down in the centre of a clearing in the woods, look at a clear sky, and watch the leaves on the trees moving all around the peripheries. If you live somewhere where you can see a clear view of the stars at night, lie on your back and watch them all.

A few people can do it straight away. I've noticed this particularly among artists, who i presume are used to looking at the whole panorama infront of them, in between perfecting specific areas of a painting.

(It can be done it with glasses on, but it's difficult to do. So if you normally use glasses, it may be better to do it half-blind. – I have recently found it possible for short periods, to look outside the rim of the glasses, i'll maybe cover the glass sometime and try it. – And i haven't yet been able to ask anyone who wears contact lenses).

In Going on the Lookout i described how the normal feeling of a subject looking at an object is considerably different, it's a 'being with' what i'm seeing, instead of looking at it.

By itself, this panoramic seeing everything could be defined as being 'here'. In Sensing the Changes we will discuss a second level of panoramic seeing, where we develop an awareness of the changes and sudden movements in our environment. This brings us into an intense feeling of 'now'.

First, we need to be able to see everything, like a newborn child. Afterwards, sensing the changes is easier to learn with panoramic listening.

Extra Exercises

There are many different degrees and qualities of panoramic seeing and listening, just as there are with focused seeing and listening. Humans all have some subliminal panoramic awareness of what's happening all around us, even when we're lost in daydreams, even to some extent when focusing on a computer screen.

Once you've started, then it is best to develop with a number of different methods, in lots of different situations.

An excellent method to experiment with is to find a blank sheet of A4 – fold it in half (for some stability) and hold it sideways in front of your eyes. Focus your eyes on it, but concentrate on and look at the interesting things happening all around it. Move it farther away, step by step, until it's a relaxed arms length away. Keep focusing on it but concentrating on everything happening all around it.

A method which i practice on an almost daily basis, because i find it so effective and fun, and it incorporates the next level of awareness to change and movement, is ... go somewhere where lots is happening, sit outside where cars and people are moving – by the street or in a pedestrian zone, ...

Look upwards where nothing's moving, find a rooftop chimney pot to focus on, but then concentrate on the people, push-bikes and cars which are passing by in the bottom half of your field of vision. Notice when new objects come into your field of vision – follow them till they are out of sight.

Then look down at the pavement, or your knees, and 'massage' the upper half of your field of vision.

Extra Seeing Exercises discusses a number of secondary ways to stimulate 'seeing everything'.

Please continue with Listening Out

Back to Panoramic Exercises : Seeing and Listening