As soon as I power up my cell phone, I immediately go to Settings, then Sounds and Vibrations, then Do Not Disturb to turn that on. The random dings and beeps of incoming mail feel like someone is standing at my shoulder yelling in my ear, making me anxious and unable to deeply concentrate. People who know me realize that the best way to reach me is by email or Messenger, not a phone call when I’m not expecting one.
I’ve written before about too much auditory input, here. It feels like my hearing channel gets overloaded easily, whether the sound is too harsh, or too loud, or there are many sounds at once and I can’t sort them out to make sense of them, like raucous competing conversations in a crowd or at a party. Earlier I was trying to arrange consultations with 2 folks, both in very different time zones from mine, seeing when our calendars would match up. I was deep in concentration, when the neighbor started his weed whacker, and with my open window he sounded like he was right next to me. ACK! My brain went into overload trying to decide what to do with this new and now dominant blaring noise, which I couldn’t shut out.
What does this have to do with vision? I’ve long thought that as a sensitive child in a sometimes chaotic environment, the way I chose to deal with too much and too confusing and too scary visual input was to blur it out. I preferred to retreat from the environment to look at the pictures inside my head, or to look at a book which seemed less confronting than other people, or the busy world “out there”. And since the solution for a child who couldn’t see well back then (and this is unfortunately still often true now) was eyeglasses, I was put in a stronger pair once or twice a year as I grew up.
So a lot of my vision improvement work, in addition to Bates-type exercises, has been about teaching myself it’s safe to connect, and to reach out. I wrote about connecting and vision here. I need to find what helps me feel safe (you can see an old post about that here), get as much of that as I can, then take the action to reach out to others. Of all the benefits I’ve gotten from my years of energy healing training with Deborah King, one of the biggest may be the practice at being seen on screen (we have regular video calls), or interacting in a group at a workshop, and feeling safe doing so.
It’s been an interesting visual and attention challenge for me, as I interact more with others, to stay focused on the person in front of me. I am so accustomed to letting my attention drift to the thoughts in my head! And while those thoughts may be fascinating (grinning as I laugh at myself), if I’m not present, not actively looking, I’m missing the moment.
For most of my life, I was introverted, fearful, and lonely. As I’ve slowly learned it’s safe to reach out, and I’m actually looking at people now instead of down at my feet, I feel safer than ever. Most folks are good-hearted and well-meaning. One of my favorite vision practices has become looking over the details of someone’s face as we talk, either on screen or in person. Occasionally I look past the person’s face to scan the scenery outside the window behind the computer, or down the street or toward the horizon if we’re outdoors. It’s a bit upsetting to acknowledge I hardly looked at anyone when they were talking to me when I was younger.
If too much is coming at you and you feel overwhelmed, take a break, then do what you can to slow the input to a manageable level. Shutting down your vision so you don’t see a situation clearly is not a true solution, and you’re not learning how to deal with the next episode of overwhelm. You can probably handle more than you think — that panic may be a childhood feeling from when you really didn’t have the resources and skills you do now. It truly is safe to look. There’s so much in the world to see, and most of it is wonderful!
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Paul and Darrel, thanks for your thoughts, negative though they may seem. It’s good to note what’s not working for us personally, and to change our circumstances where we can. And I completely agree about mindfulness, being in the moment, saying “What is here for me?” instead of fighting Reality.
I love this post and subsequent comments by Nancy and Doc Lambda.
My thoughts on this are that the school environment does indeed lead to vision problems in the vulnerable, like what happened to me, compounded by a letter from one of my teachers to my parents telling them to take me to an optician with inevitable prescription of glasses whose lenses steadily got thicker over the following years. It is interesting though that some of us remain immune to had vision habits developed during school years
It has been said that once the Inuit, who traditionally had very good sight at all ages, got into contact with civilization and told their kids had to go to school, many of the kids quickly became myopic and had glasses fitted. I can’t verify this story absolutely but I think it is true.
So it shows that in spite of the artificial nature of our lives, and being like dancing bears all too often, it is still hopefully possible to relax through good mind/vision habits and attain some degree of serenity.
I believe that many people have what you had in some degree. Personally I think that is because our society is designed to treat us like cogs in a huge profiting machine for the elite. Even our financial system is designed in such a way that there is always more debt than there is money. Coping in this society is unnatural and hard.
School is very unnatural. It forces energetic curious children to sit still and focus on only boring mostly irrelevant stuff all day.
Then comes work which is also very unnatural. I sometimes feel like a bear who is made to dance on coals since I am being forced into unnatural behaviour.
The system is designed to be against the people, and coping is such a system is hard and requires thought. Our health and happiness do not come automatically to us here even though they would in nature (that is if we were born in nature, many people have been tamed much like pets to not be able to survive in nature anymore).
Dr. λ, I don’t disagree. And since I choose to live in this society with its restrictions, I spend a significant amount of time alone where I can do what I please, and also a significant amount of time outdoors where I feel freer and less restricted, with fewer demands on me. Resenting What Is is wasting my energy, so I continue to find coping skills, and activities and thoughts I enjoy. Thanks for your thoughts.
I agree with your statement, “Our society is designed to treat us like cogs in a huge profiting machine for the elite. Even our financial system is designed in such a way there is always more debt than there is money. Coping in this society is unnatural and hard.” There is a better way.
Thanks for your post Nancy, I have heard that when small children are overwhelmed by sensory data, they will more often than not just ‘shut down’ , being unresponsive to the excessive stimuli until things have quietened down.
Turning off the cell not to be irritated by incoming spam sounds like a great idea.
Darrel, yes, the more I think about it, and the more I observe my reactions when I get overwhelmed now, the more I think this dynamic is behind my restricted vision as a child. I’m so glad I have better coping strategies than I did then!