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Feeding Your Imagination (7-25-2013)
#1
Feeding Your Imagination (7-25-2013)
http//blog.iblindness.org/2013/feeding-your-imagination/

<a href="http//blog.iblindness.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/looking-at-flower.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-398 alignright" title="looking-at-flower" src="http//blog.iblindness.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/looking-at-flower.jpg" alt="visualizing a flower" width="335" height="366" /></a>

I was lying down on a bench, looking up at some tree branches, and I slipped into an altered state of mind, near sleep. I saw the leaves and branches pretty clearly, but at the same time I had no understanding of what I was looking at. There was no depth. It was all just pieces and colors mixed together. Meanwhile I was thinking of something unrelated. So my imagination was totally disengaged from what I was looking at.

Why does this matter? What does it mean?

Dr. Bates found that his patients' ability to visualize things they have seen corresponded to their quality of vision. People who have very good vision can visualize vividly, while people with very poor vision either have very poor visualization skills or they don't make full use of their skills.

What you see with your eyes, in the moment, is very important. But it is only data, and limited data at that. You may think you see a flower because of your eyes, but your eyes only took in the light rays bouncing off the flower. Your mind does the rest of the job for you to perceive the object that your eyes are looking at.

In the picture to the right, the man is visualizing what the flower should look like, even though his eyes are giving him blurry data. But what is he really doing?

Remember that when your eyes don't focus light rays correctly, the image on your eyes' retinas is scattered, which is what we call blurry.

If you already know that imagination is important to vision, you may still be making a critical mistake. You may be trying to use your imagination to fix the data that your eyes receive, bringing it into focus by perhaps trying to overlay a clear image on top of the blurry one, or imagining that the clearer image inside your head is "out there". But consider that the image you perceive happens inside in your mind and not out there. Everything you think you see as you look around is an interpretation inside your mind of what is out there.

So it makes much more sense to do things the other way around. Use what your eyes see to assist your imagination. This way, seeing becomes all about visualizing. The data from your eyes is secondary, while your focus is primarily on the image that you are visualizing.

Visualization happens in a different place mentally than the place where the data from your eyes is first received. People have described it as in the back of their heads. For instance, briefly remember the home you grew up in. Do it now...

You had at least a vague flash of the home, right? If it wasn't vivid, then at least you had some minimum sense of form, place, color. And as you did so, you didn't suddenly see it out in front of you, where this computer screen is. It happened elsewhere in your mind. If the image was very vague and you are unable to make it much better, that just shows that you need to practice it more. If at other times, like while sleeping, you spontaneously visualize things very vividly, even if briefly, that shows what your immediate potential is. If you visualize clearly at any time, you are capable of doing it virtually all the time. If you have a hard time doing it while you are awake and your eyes are open, that just shows that it's against your programmed way of seeing. But that can be changed, just by practice.

So like the man looking at the flower, you should be visualizing what you are looking at. If you don't know what it's supposed to look like, imagine what it could be. Or even just imagine something that you know it isn't. The point is to prioritize your imagination and use the visual data from your eyes to feed it. Maybe you don't even care about the flower. Maybe something else deserves your attention more. Experiment with this often and see what happens.
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"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
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#2
Very helpful...I'm going to be wrestling with this koan-like advice today Smile

I'm wondering if you can suggest or point me to some specific exercises or methods to improve visualization and imagination. I imagine just practicing recalling memories in more and more vivid detail would help, but have you found anything particularly effective or fun?
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#3
maackle Wrote:Very helpful...I'm going to be wrestling with this koan-like advice today Smile

I'm wondering if you can suggest or point me to some specific exercises or methods to improve visualization and imagination. I imagine just practicing recalling memories in more and more vivid detail would help, but have you found anything particularly effective or fun?

Any method you can use to get into the alpha or theta brainwave state should help. Sit or lie down, go into a meditative state, near sleep, but don't go fully to sleep, and you should find it easier to visualize. And the more you do that, the easier it should be to do it better when you're fully awake.
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"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
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#4
When I read a post on David's blog I often find my mind drifting though it at the end of the day when relaxing. Then more sinks in, can utilize it.

I tried his imagination suggestions and it works, helped me remember 3 of my TV channels to switch back and forth on. In my memory, imagination I imagined the channels in a row. This also helped keep the small channel numbers clear on the screen at 18 feet, which are not always clear after a day on the computer doing Photoshop, limited head, eye mobility and arm, neck tension.

I also noticed that by incorporating 'movement' when imaging the flower its easier; I imagine the flower moving; the breeze blowing it and/or a bee landing on it, making it move as he gathers pollen, jumping about the flower. I can also see the bee clear in my mind.
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#5
So do you have any theories as to why visualization can actually make your visual acuity better?

I'm thinking...when you visualize, you are shifting around on that mental image, and it is much less straining than shifting on an object with your eyes (at least in my case, having myopia). So maybe imagining gets you in the frame of more effortless shifting which you can transfer into actually looking at objects. Anyone have any other ideas? I'm still trying to put these puzzle pieces together and understand what's going on here.
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#6
Ted, maybe part of it is when I see the image in my mind's eye. whether in a dream or a memory or imagining, it can be super-clear with no eyestrain for an extended period of time, unlike my usual waking experience. So I accept this as "normal" for the time I'm looking at it, instead of blurring it out or running away from it because I'm overwhelmed with the clarity, like I often do when my eyes are open. (Yes, I'm working on this daily and it's better than it used to be!) This feels as much like practice in accepting clear sight as in seeing clearly, to me.
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#7
That seems about right Nancy. Recently I had a few really vivid visualizations while laying down. It felt as if I was there in real life, experiencing it. I didn't feel any eye strain or anxiety about where to look next or anything. It didn't even seem like I was observing the picture, but that I was IN that world.

I'm thinking imagination is helpful because it helps you forget about the eyes altogether. You can't imagine or picture something in your head well if you are thinking about your eyes, it seems. So it's a good way to forget about eyestrain, which seems to actually just be symptoms of an underlying problem in the mind.

Maybe all this is just about forgetting strain, letting it go, and just moving on.
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#8
ted Wrote:I'm thinking imagination is helpful because it helps you forget about the eyes altogether. You can't imagine or picture something in your head well if you are thinking about your eyes, it seems. So it's a good way to forget about eyestrain, which seems to actually just be symptoms of an underlying problem in the mind.
I like this explanation. Maybe this is the means of guiding our eyes toward better vision since it doesn't focus on the eye muscles which can cause strain. Folks with perfect vision don't focus on their eye muscles. The image on the retina is imperfect so seeing needs a guide: our imagination of what it actually should be. And we need relaxation of the eyes as well during the process.
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