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 miniature phones.

So, around 12 years ago, i asked myself : What else can i do with my eyes apart from focusing? And i thought that maybe i could use my so-called peripheral vision like some birds – ducks, blackbirds, blue tits and pigeons – or horses and deer.

At first i wondered how animals did it, because as soon as i tried to look at something on the periphery, my focus always went to that point, (or to anything else moving or bright). So i fixed my eyes focusing 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.

Slowly, over a period of weeks, i chose different angles, checking out all the points of the compass. Then one day i realised: i didn't need the central focal point straight ahead and if i looked at a blank space, 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). And so, broadband seeing was born.

The Practice – Phase One: Seeing Everything

I don't think it's necessary for a beginner to follow my long preparation method. A few people can do it straight away. I've noticed this particularly among landscape artists, who i presume are used to looking at the whole panorama infront if them, in between perfecting specific areas of a painting.

We sometimes spontaneously experience broadband seeing, looking into the distance with a landscape or seascape – and a panorama is best for this exercise.

An ideal alternative, 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're not in an ideal environment, first put your hands up between your eyes, so you block the central area. You will get an impression of how it is to see with eyes on both sides of your face.

Then, you might be able to get into the feeling quickly, if you 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.

Once you can do this effectively, find a blank wall, or a monotonous area of sky, anything which has no focal point, and focus on it – while looking at everything else.

If this is difficult, then find a boring, neutral and motionless focal point, a post or pillar straight in front, anything which doesn't move, focus on it but concentrate on everything else.

Already you may have a feeling for the oval shape of your broadband field of vision. If you are outside, you will see lots of things moving, just notice them all but keep looking at the whole picture.

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 anything moves you will notice it, but don't look at it, keep looking at the whole picture.

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 T.V. screen. 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.

(It can be done it with glasses on, but it's difficult to do, and no animal would have this experience! 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 experiment on or with anyone who wears contact lenses).

In Sensing the Changes we will discuss sudden movements and changes. First, as with listening, we need to be able to see everything, like a newborn child.

Extra Exercises

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

A good idea is to look a little above the horizon while walking, this almost forces the downward broadband vision to activate.

Another good idea, is it 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 other ways to stimulate 'seeing everything'.

Please continue with Sensing the Changes

Back to Appendix : Panoramic Exercises