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How to look at stuff - Printable Version

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How to look at stuff - David - 10-26-2011

How to look at stuff
http//blog.iblindness.org/2011-10/how-to-look-at-stuff/

<h3 style="text-align left;">Be Here</h3>
<p style="text-align left;">Blurry vision is well-known to be associated with intellectualism. But the way I see it, it has to do with a preference towards abstract ideas instead of being physically present. By being physically present, I mean being aware of the movement of your body, the feeling of your body, your breath, and the world immediately around you right now. It's a matter of how much time you spend at either, or how often you take breaks to "ground" yourself when doing mentally intensive tasks on your computer or at your desk, or how much you stay physically present even while doing the mentally intensive tasks.</p>
The most basic way of being present with what you're doing is by focusing on something you already do anyway. You always have to breathe. So take one full minute, before you start this, to focus entirely on your breathing the sound, rhythm, and feeling of your breath. Don't think about anything else. Avoid thinking with any words and see if you can continue doing this for a full minute. Not so easy, is it? If you're like most people, you're used to living in your thoughts. While you focus on breathing for this long, do you find yourself trying to remember the experience of yourself a few moments ago, as if marveling that you could still exist without thinking?
<p style="text-align left;">If breathing itself isn't enough to occupy you, you can also focus on your hands and what you're touching with them, even if your fingers are touching nothing but the palms. Your hands help ground you physically in the same way as breathing grounds you. Your sense of touch is quite raw, or basic. It isn't dressed up in fancy justifications and patterns. It's real, unlike your thoughts.</p>
<p style="text-align left;">The issue here is that your thoughts represent your programming repeating itself incessantly, affirming itself, and mixed up in your programming is your vision problems. By stopping your thoughts, for even just a moment, you stop your programming, and from that perspective you can better see what is really going on with yourself when you try to see. When your mind is silent, you see yourself better. So everything you do you notice for what it is. So you establish yourself as breath and as your hands. This is important because what you think of as "who you are" is a personality all wrapped up as part of your programming and vision problems. You're rebuilding your programming in order to have a functional visual system (it isn't as hard as it sounds), so you have to step outside of it a little, devalue it, and in your firm grounding in your breath be willing to toss away a little bit what you thought of as "who you are" if it isn't congruent to the way your visual system is supposed to work.</p>

<h3 style="text-align left;">Drive Yourself</h3>
<p style="text-align left;">So let's get going.</p>
<p style="text-align left;">In your attempt to see in a more natural way that leads to good vision, you may ironically be actually practicing a more mechanical and unnatural way of using your eyes than ever before. Some material on the Bates method tells you to shift between details, or trace outlines. But be careful about following an outline of an object, as if you're drawing it with your eyes as the pencil. That isn't how people with good vision see.</p>
<p style="text-align left;">Remember that during this process you can spend time at things that do indirectly help your vision, such as palming, improving your back/neck posture, or conscious breathing. But when it comes to how to look at things, you don't need to be practicing anything in your way of using your eyes that people with good vision don't already do. And what they do is not hard. This process is really about backing up and understanding how simple seeing is supposed to be. You'll beat yourself up when you finally realize that what you've been avoiding doing is the very key to seeing clearly.</p>
<p style="text-align center;"><a href="http//blog.iblindness.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/house-6401.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-205 aligncenter" title="house-640" src="http//blog.iblindness.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/house-6401.jpg" alt="house with yard" width="640" height="425" /></a></p>
<p style="text-align left;">We see lots of things to look at in the above photo. What's the first thing you looked at? The house? Why? Maybe because at your first glance you decided it was the most significant thing there, or potentially the most interesting. The white color really stands out among the greens too.  For our purposes it doesn't matter why you looked at it. The thing to notice is the fact that your attention was drawn to it. And what's something that people with good vision do. They look at what their attention is drawn to, or what is the most interesting thing at the moment.</p>
I'm going over this in such small steps because blurry vision disorders are, in my opinion, caused by an attention disorder. You don't spend enough time paying attention to what you're looking at in the right way. To put it simplistically, I believe your eyes and your brain's visual center aren't working in unison, and your eyes can't work well without your brain. And your own will has to be the starting point. You need a sincere desire to see something and find out more about it and devote your attention to it, or you're just uselessly going through the motions. Your brain has to get involved and get fired up and stay that way.

<a href="http//blog.iblindness.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/house-closeup.jpg"><img class="alignleft size-full wp-image-214" style="margin 5px 10px;" title="house-closeup" src="http//blog.iblindness.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/house-closeup.jpg" alt="close up view of house" width="327" height="236" /></a>So let's say you looked at the house. Why? Because for whatever reason you wanted to see it better. Now that we're looking at the house, what's the first part of the house you looked at? Nice railing on the porch. Is there anybody on the porch? What's that on the door? I don't see anybody on the porch, but what's that sign in front of house? Beware of Dog? Parking in Rear? Can we see anything at all on the sign?

I'm only suggesting where you might look. I'm not telling you where to look, and you aren't planning out where to look. So don't get in the habit, when you're practicing "shifting", to just bounce around between points for the sake of keeping your eyes moving. The whole point of your eyes moving is it it signifies that your attention was moving and is driving your eyes to move as a consequence of you wanting to look more closely at different things.
<h3></h3>
<h3>What You Already See</h3>
With each object, look at the smallest details that you <strong>already </strong>can see. On the face of the sign, what's the smallest piece of color you can perceive? And surely there are other spots elsewhere on the sign of the same size, so look around to notice some of them as well. Ok, so you've noticed what you can, and nothing else is apparent there, so you can look away from the sign and at the next most interesting thing. Easy, right? Makes sense that you have to do this to really see what you are already capable of seeing right now, right? And yet you don't already do this, do you.

Don't try to do anything to "bring out" the details that you think are there. You are simply using your vision, as it is in this moment, to its fullest extent, by looking at things the way you're meant to. The more often you take a few seconds to hit your limit in the details you can see, the harder your brain works. When you keep looking for the smallest piece of color, occasionally you'll notice even smaller pieces. Your brain will get the message loud and clear, and it will help you change your programming to perform this task all the time. Because it works. And it's then that your programming serves you, and you are no longer at the mercy of what appears to be a dysfunctional system.

This is subtle stuff. Once you begin practicing this, you should notice that you have some trouble with it. Just make note of what you find yourself doing. Do you have a hard time becoming interested in seeing something else such that your attention is drawn to look at the smallest piece that you see? Do you find yourself looking away, closing your eyes, or otherwise taking a break to think for a moment about anything? This is your programming fighting against being disrupted. Do your best to keep yourself on track. You will fail countless times. And in the next moment you start over again. It's a constant process of starting over. But each time you start over it means you never really failed.


Re: How to look at stuff - Nancy - 10-27-2011

Wow, David, this is one of the most helpful posts to me you've ever written. If you're writing a book this should be in one of the early foundational chapters. I've been realizing, observing my own habits lately, how often I want to escape the moment and daydream briefly or in some other way take my attention (and visual focus) away from what's in front of me. Once I have a better idea of exactly what I'm doing or thinking with regard to this, maybe that it's not safe to stay here, I'll write about it on my blog. Thanks again -- keep the simple wisdom coming!


Re: How to look at stuff - Nancy - 10-27-2011

Separate point to the one I wrote earlier: when I looked at the picture, my eyes first fell on the big rock in front and started scanning it, because it appeared close and large! Obviously in a flat picture everything is the same distance from my eyes -- any distance is only apparent. But my strong unconscious (until now!) habit is that I can see what's close the best, so that's how I look. Thank you for this insight! It makes me wonder what other unhelpful looking habits I have that I'm not yet aware of.


Re: How to look at stuff - Pikachu - 10-27-2011

A question: How does one "shut down the mind" when it comes to reading? I have had some success with silencing my mind, but I find it extremely difficult when I am reading, writing, or typing.


Re: How to look at stuff - Marlene - 10-27-2011

Yea, I want to know how do you silence the mind when you're engaged in a thinking task? David mentioned that it's helpful to be mindful of your breathing, blinking...staying grounded.....but, my mind still wanders when I work on the computer for too long.


Re: How to look at stuff - Nini - 10-28-2011

This is a really good analysis and description; I think many of us have this bad habit of getting so absorbed in thoughts, that 'real' life around us is relegated to be a sort of an unimportant 'background scenario'.

I would like to add 2 observations I've made:

1) For persons with normal eyesight being lost in thoughts is not an obstacle to clear vision.
My younger son (15 years old) has the best eyes in our family;
Recently, when I was doing eye training with the eye chart (<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.vision-training.com/Download/Eyecharts/Eyechart%20Black%20on%20White.pdf">http://www.vision-training.com/Download ... 0White.pdf</a><!-- m -->, to be read from 10 feet = 3 m distance), I told him, that I've read in Bate's book about a person, who was even able to read newspaper print from 20 feet away.
To demonstrate his good eyesight, my son stepped back 6 really big steps (at 3 he was already further away than my 10.feet line) and then said: " I can reed 'you can see perfectly' (20/20), the line beneath (25/20) i can't make out, the letters look like arabic writing".
So his eyesight is 40/20! and the line below was not even blurry for him.

And he is the 'dreamer' in our family, much more than I am.
In the first school classes report cards regularly I found the remark: he is always "dans la lune" ("in the moon" = lost in his own dreams) instead of following the lessons. One day the teacher called me to school and showed me that my son had only written today's date in the textbook, the whole rest of the day he had been dreaming, playing with his pencils, looking out of the window...

The one big difference between my younger son's habits and the rest of the family is, that he hates books and never reads when he can avoid it.
At his age, I already had a fully developed myopia and I loved books, spent several hours per day reading ...
My elder son is more rational, usually not dreaming, very good pupil, reading sometimes, but far less than I did at his age; he needs weak glasses in school (-O,25/between -1 and -2 the other eye).

2) During my eye chart exercises I found out, that sometimes a bit less attention is even helpful.
That is, when I am trying too hard to get the letters clear, I have got the impression that too much concentration can even hinder clear sight. When my thoughts then start to drift away and I am no longer trying to direct and manipulate my eyes willingly, then the letters start to clear up.
Maybe that is because I am more relaxed at that moment and my seeing systems works better without my interference.

But this only regards pleasant thoughts.
As soon as I start thinking about problems or worries - or still worse think about some work I have to do -, I get so much involved, that everything becomes very blurry and there is no use to continue the training unless I manage to stop the thoughts
And different ways of 'absent-mindedness' cause different visual problems, for example when I am impatient and 'feel' the work waiting for me, the first letters of the lines will fade out, sometimes even disappear completely, as if I were too eager to proceed forwards...


Re: How to look at stuff - asarrascene - 10-28-2011

Nice topic!

When you direct you attention to your breath, you became aware of everything that is happening in that moment. You start to perceive more the details. I´ve been practicing this for some time, but I hadn´t linked this idea to the vision improvement.
I suggest the movie "Peacefull Warrior", 2006 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0438315/). This movie is based on this principle of becoming connected to the present and forgetting the future and the past.


Re: How to look at stuff - Nancy - 10-28-2011

I think the answer has to do with staying in your body, staying present, which I am realizing to my dismay I have not been doing most of my life. Now I first want to catch myself when I "go away", then gently pull my focus back here. Simple body stuff like focusing on my breath, or where my feet are, helps me. If you observe someone who is naturally grounded and steady, you'll see they do this automatically and hardly ever get rocked away from their center. David promised us a post on being in your body so I am eagerly awaiting it, as I think I need all the help with this topic I can get!


Re: How to look at stuff - David - 10-28-2011

Nini - Here's my take on your points. People with normal vision can retain it whether they're "present" or not, because their programming that takes over doesn't include the things that cause bad vision. It takes a lot of abuse for vision to start to slip. Even so, playing with pencils and looking out the window sounds to me like being more present than trying to follow an abstract and probably boring lesson.

If less attention in what you're looking at seems to result in seeing more clearly, examine what you're doing when paying attention to it. You're probably doing something such as trying to make it clearer, or doing some sort of shifting or something else that you think is the right thing to do, instead of just looking at the smallest spots of color that you can already see without it becoming any clearer.


Re: How to look at stuff - David - 10-28-2011

Nancy Wrote:Separate point to the one I wrote earlier: when I looked at the picture, my eyes first fell on the big rock in front and started scanning it, because it appeared close and large! Obviously in a flat picture everything is the same distance from my eyes -- any distance is only apparent. But my strong unconscious (until now!) habit is that I can see what's close the best, so that's how I look. Thank you for this insight! It makes me wonder what other unhelpful looking habits I have that I'm not yet aware of.

That's interesting to note. But it also does make sense.

I guess I should also mention (and I'm sure the explanation is still quite incomplete) also that it isn't a bad thing to practice looking for the smallest details you can already see with close up objects first. I guess that would be a lot easier, if it's a little clearer, but once you get the hang of it, it should be easier at all distances.


Re: How to look at stuff - David - 10-28-2011

Pikachu Wrote:A question: How does one "shut down the mind" when it comes to reading? I have had some success with silencing my mind, but I find it extremely difficult when I am reading, writing, or typing.

Well, you can't, because those things do require thinking, and in order to do many things we do need to be able to think. But what the silence does is kind of reset you, so you start out more self-directed and have a chance to be more aware of what you're doing/thinking before you get too caught up in your patterns again and don't notice things. It's like when a teacher walks into a room of 30 kids hopped up on sugar causing chaos. If he were to just slip in and try to calm down one kid at a time, while getting hit with a dodge ball, paper airplane, and another kid next to him screaming, he'll never get anywhere. If instead the teacher yells "Everyone stop!", things become calm and from that point he can notice and stop anyone from getting out of line.


Re: How to look at stuff - JMartinC4 - 10-28-2011

Nini Wrote:This is a really good analysis and description; I think many of us have this bad habit of getting so absorbed in thoughts, that 'real' life around us is relegated to be a sort of an unimportant 'background scenario'. I would like to add 2 observations I've made:
1) For persons with normal eyesight being lost in thoughts is not an obstacle to clear vision.
My younger son (15 years old) has the best eyes in our family; ... his eyesight is 40/20! and the line below was not even blurry for him. And he is the 'dreamer' in our family, much more than I am. In the first school classes report cards regularly I found the remark: he is always "dans la lune" ("in the moon" = lost in his own dreams) instead of following the lessons. One day the teacher called me to school and showed me that my son had only written today's date in the textbook, the whole rest of the day he had been dreaming, playing with his pencils, looking out of the window... The one big difference between my younger son's habits and the rest of the family is, that he hates books and never reads when he can avoid it. At his age, I already had a fully developed myopia and I loved books, spent several hours per day reading ... My elder son is more rational, usually not dreaming, very good pupil, reading sometimes, but far less than I did at his age; he needs weak glasses in school (-O,25/between -1 and -2 the other eye).
2) During my eye chart exercises I found out, that sometimes a bit less attention is even helpful. That is, when I am trying too hard to get the letters clear, I have got the impression that too much concentration can even hinder clear sight. When my thoughts then start to drift away and I am no longer trying to direct and manipulate my eyes willingly, then the letters start to clear up. Maybe that is because I am more relaxed at that moment and my seeing systems works better without my interference. But this only regards pleasant thoughts. As soon as I start thinking about problems or worries - ...I get so much involved, that everything becomes very blurry and there is no use to continue the training unless I manage to stop the thoughts... And different ways of 'absent-mindedness' cause different visual problems, for example when I am impatient and 'feel' the work waiting for me, the first letters of the lines will fade out, sometimes even disappear completely, as if I were too eager to proceed forwards...
I completely doubt that school or reading is boring for your younger son, or that he is less intellectual or some other rationalization for his skylarking/daydreaming. I believe he is simply making the smartest choice he can every moment, which is to say he chooses to do the things that maintain his clear normal eyesight. That seems the far smarter choice than to choose to do things which blur his sight.
The problem is, he doesn't realize the blur doesn't have to be permanent. Normal sighted people often get blurry eyesight and then 'shake it off' or even 'yawn it off' or 'stretch it off'. I've seen my college-educated, 3rd grade teaching mother do it. I've seen good friends do it. I've seen my brother in law do it. I've seen the security guard do it. I've seen many others do it. And now I'm starting to learn to do it.
Your son needs to know that doing the reading and paying attention in class may temporarily blur his eyesight, but he needs to do it in order to keep up with everyone - and the blur isn't (necessarily) permanent. But not becoming well-educated is usually permanent.


Re: How to look at stuff - Nini - 10-28-2011

David Wrote:Even so, playing with pencils and looking out the window sounds to me like being more present than trying to follow an abstract and probably boring lesson.
You are probably right there, because - even if he seems to be very absent-minded, he notices every small detail.
When there is a small change in a room, (for example a new small decor accessory), you can be sure, that he will notice it at once - and most probably as the only one of the family.

Quote:If less attention in what you're looking at seems to result in seeing more clearly, examine what you're doing when paying attention to it. You're probably doing something such as trying to make it clearer, or doing some sort of shifting or something else that you think is the right thing to do, instead of just looking at the smallest spots of color that you can already see without it becoming any clearer.
Yes, I know that when I'm trying too hard to overcome the blur, I start straining my eyes.

@ Martin:
Quote:Your son needs to know that doing the reading and paying attention in class may temporarily blur his eyesight, but he needs to do it in order to keep up with everyone - and the blur isn't (necessarily) permanent. But not becoming well-educated is usually permanent.
It is very difficult to make a teenager understand that point. There are too many things far more interesting for him than school and books...

Concerning temporary blurry eyesight, I had a very interesting 'experiment' with my son.
I wanted to know, if anything changes in normal sighted persons' eyes, when they look at small distant details; whether they also start straining, narrowing the eyelids etc and whether they feel any difference in their eyes.
So I let him sit down at 10 feet from the eye chart and asked him to shift his eyes to the television and back to the smallest letters (20/16 line).
I did't see any difference in his eyes as he did so. But he said, that, when he shifts back to the letters, they are blurry for a short instance, before they clear up. He was very astonished, because he never noticed that consciously before.
When I asked him, whether he feels any difference in his eyes when he looks at something really small and far away, he said, that in this case, he also fells strain in his eye muscles and he would close his eyes just a little bit more - but obviously, the 20/16 line was not small enough to require such an effort...(I can't say, that I don't envy him >Big Grin )


Re: How to look at stuff - Pikachu - 10-28-2011

Thanks for the reply, David. I guess it makes sense, and it gave me an idea. So maybe when I read, I should "reset" every once in a while (say, every page or so) so that I don't get into a state where the strain accumulates to monstrous proportions.


Re: How to look at stuff - David - 10-29-2011

Nini, great! It can be interesting getting feedback from the perspective of people who have always had normal vision.

Nancy, actually that post was pretty much all I have to say at the moment about "being in your body". But maybe you have more to share?