Think of the way a young child greets the morning, with excitement and curiosity. What is Life going to show me today? Each new sight and sound is a source of delight. When your vision and mind are clear, you’re ready to engage with your surroundings without distraction, with complete focus on the Now.
If someone gives you a surprise gift and you have no idea what’s inside the pretty wrapping paper, opening it absorbs your full attention. You look at color and contour and lettering, examining it all with wonder. What would it be like if you used your eyes this way more often? Have you really seen that tree outside your door, or the details of your friend’s face?
When I started improving my own vision years ago, it quickly became obvious to me that I wasn’t really looking at much. I’d take a fast glance at my environment, then examine that snapshot in my brain. I was not continuously connected to what was in front of my eyes. It was surprisingly difficult to change this habit, to learn to notice, to watch the ever-changing scenes around me.
In learning to look in a natural healthy way, I played a game to help myself. It reminded me of those “find what doesn’t belong” children’s pictures, with a dog in a tree, or a flag blowing one way and smoke blowing another. My game was looking at a familiar scene, say out my front window, until I noticed something new which hadn’t been there before. It could be that a neighbor’s front door was open right now, or he had painted his fence, or there were curtains in the window of a new color. The point was that it was different, and I had to look to realize that.
A few months ago I made this suggestion to someone working to improve his vision: “Pretend everything is new, that you just arrived on the planet, and see what you see”. He reported he went to the grocery store, which is usually a mundane task, and had a lot of fun! He said he was delighted when he found the cheese section, picking up and examining the different cheeses, as if he’d never been there before.
Some of our fascination with babies and children is that so much is new to them. They have no preconceived notions of what they’ll see before they even look, and are just as fascinated with a bug or worm as with a flower. Try this out yourself, looking as if that familiar scene is brand-new. Can’t you feel the excitement, the anticipation? Dr. Bates even said we see best that which interests us — he called this an optimum. Well, if everything interested you, might you see everything more clearly? Try it and see!
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Great advice, to pretend everything is brand new! I like to look and examine flowers from nearby, as if I see them for the very first time, which is usually the case. 🙂
I have another technique as well these days. I say: “Over there I see ….”, e.g. a tree. It emphasizes that the tree is over there while I’m here. So consciousness is here and attention is over there. In this way I really look at something and I can also experience distance better.
Thank you Marloes. I like that!
I agree totally, I like to say it is renewed “appreciation” of God’s creation that helps.
Dean, yes, more is not always better, especially if it’s mindlessly gobbled instead of savored. How much can you enjoy if you’re only consuming?
Thank you for this very “insightful” and helpful approach to our daily visual habits. Our world today pushes us to grab as much as possible as quickly as possible, thus we miss so much of the details of life and the world around us, and much of its newness, beauty and excitement. Of course, to take in more of this newness requires slowing down, and being more attentive to details otherwise missed. I have found personally, that this also helps with “central fixation”, movement and relaxation of my eyes.