(extracts from recent letters – and other notes – probably difficult to read and still developing)


I don't know if sensing everything is more or less important than sensing the changes. They seem to have different effects, and both are interesting.

Sensing everything will be generally acceptable as a good thing, so here i will make the case for sensing changes.

Things which don't change or move aren't dangerous. The value for animals lies in noticing the changes, and outside our solid walls life is always changing. And some things repeat often, but without clocks, they repeat randomly. They don't repeat regularly with any reliability.

In the real world, things happen every now and again: one day i hear a dog barking three times, then four days nothing, then another bark. Things repeat randomly.

For blackbirds this random reality is cause for insecurity. Humans have no reason to feel threatened by such things. We need abstract abilities to be secure in our modern world. And when we feel unsafe it's because of psychological or abstract reasons.

We think repetitions are cyclic, man made repetitions often are, but life doesn't repeat in predictable circles, some things do like the sun and moon, but generally speaking this is a red herring, circles are an abstract form we have superimposed onto life, to try and make sense of it.

These days, we are missing the opportunity to just be amazed at real life in this random reality. Humans don't need to be scared of it any more, we could just carry on being aware of it, without any need to selectively focus on any idea of what's happening, without needing to understand or judge what's happening.

PART 1 :

Seeing and hearing everything, is an essential step.

But, above the background smell and crackle of coffee and wood fire, your dog is still able to smell (or hear) an intruder.

The value of panoraming lies in noticing changes, the moving things, particularly the quick sudden things, not everything.

It is not an intense awareness of something which incorporates changes, like bird song, rain, or music. These are very beautiful and can be very relaxing, but they are useless for animals.

Everyday background sounds like the wind rustling leaves in the undergrowth aren't important, it's when there's a sudden crunching of leaves that it's vital to react. Its being on the lookout, checking things are safe.

It's 'waiting' for things which aren't there yet. I'm suggesting a second ability within the panoramic awareness, an ability to focus (abstractly!) on something which has not yet happened, but might. (See particularly under PART 2 - Sensitivity to Change when Hunting.)

With listening it's easy to understand. It's easy to imagine how early man might use it, listening out for a distant wild boar or sound of musk oxen herds or nearby tigers ... each has specific sounds ... bees, snakes ... cracks of a twig .. and early man was atuned to these specific stimuli and could listen out for them in a preemptive way.

Seeing changes is difficult at first, because there is an almost irresistable, habitual urge to focus on anything moving, or halfway interesting.

With simple panoramic seeing and looking at everything, first you notice all the trees swaying and gentle movements, but then that becomes background and you 'quasi focus' within the panoramic field .. anything quick which is happenening, the birds flying, the moths and flies, ... quick movements, flashes of light and cats eyes at night, ... these are the things which catch your attention – AND you are able to notice several things moving quickly at the same time. A good word to describe it may be a multi-focus.

The goal of combining seeing and listening, is easier than it sounds,  – it's easy because it's natural. Listen out for dogs, pigeons and children. Look out for flies and birds. Anything quick. Do it as though your life depended on it.

But then, as humans, we don't need to react, so we can just continue to be on the lookout. Obviously this is not a hard rule. If a car horn sounds then get out of the way. If a flock of geese come over at night chattering to each other, then focus on it, it's lovely. If you see a sparrow, be friendly.

PART 2 - Sensitivity to Change when Hunting

In its hunting form, panoramic seeing looks out over a limited field of vision, but animals are looking for specific changes within this area.

Buzzards looking for prey, watch an open field to look out for small brown or feathered things moving, they're not interested in humans or how the trees are swaying. Kingfishers watch for ripples or maybe colours under the water ... theres no point in looking at the trees if youre hunting for fish ... There is an amazing short video showing a kingfisher panoraming at a stretch of water ... periodically focusing on 'things which might be' .. notice how the head must keep still, if the head were moving it wouldn't be able to see movements in the water.

This is an attitude of waiting – and to do it intensively it's also a form of abstract focusing and stretching the senses, trying to hear and see specific things, within the panoramic field.

PART 3 : How Important are The Peripheries?

Especially with seeing, we often notice things first, at the peripheries of our panoramic field of vision.

For a horse with 350 degree sidewards vision, most movements must happen out of the central area – but with our maximum 210 degrees – new objects often come in from the peripheries.

Outside, without any walls, - animals or cars behind you will always move into your field of vision first, at the right and left sides of the periphery. If a light shines behind you, you notice it at the peripheries of your vision.

This all seems to indicate that animals with a more limited central area of vision, when they are on the lookout, they would be especially aware of the peripheries.

My first seeing exercise was a lucky break, because i found it made me happy. At first i couldn't work out if it was something to do with the different angles around the periphery which was making me happy, or if it was just because i was experimenting with something which i actually thought was a bit crazy ... whichever it was, it was making me happy, so i was curious about it.

Concentrate with your eyes simultaneously on opposite peripheral focal points as described in Seeing Everything. You can do this by picking out two opposite objects on the periphery of your panoramic field of vision, - or while focusing on a boring focal point in front - both work. If you can sit so you have two lights, at e.g. 15° up on both sides, it will help.

And i believe every 15° or so around the perimeter of your field of vision, is an area which is sensitive to, responds to, and stimulates our moods.

It is remarkably effective and needs to be mentioned. I don't know how it fits in the 'big picture'. I will write more about this in time, but leave it as a side note at the moment.

In this context Paul McCartney's Yoga Exercises for Your Eyes (2.36 mins) is also intetresting.

PART 4 : Religions?

In some religious beliefs, some forms of Buddhism and Hinduism, change is synonymous with impermanence and suffering ... maybe sometimes even seen as an obstacle to the eternal ... whereas i'm suggesting it's the door to the eternal.

PART 5 : Questioning Myself on Psychological aspects of feeling safe

The blackbird flies away at the slightest sound or sight. The deer will stop what it's doing and look from 20 metres away, (perhaps slowly growing to trust us after years of being hunted). The hare will stay still for as long as it can and let a human walk by – but we can be sure at the very first sound, a shot of adrenalin goes through it's body and it is ready to spring and run.

Humans don't have these fears and to some extent this is because we have our abstract reasoning, we identify the sounds we hear.

Animals react as soon as they see or hear something sudden, they have to, they don't know what it may do. So, i'm thinking that the 'safe' feeling panoraming gives me, is only possible because i can do it at the same time as knowing things are safe.

Back to Panoramic Exercises : Seeing and Listening