A karate teacher I know used to give the following advice to his students: “If you are sparring with another person, don’t focus your vision directly on that person. Look somewhat beyond him or off to the side. Your responses are quicker when you utilize your peripheral vision.”
To look at something directly, to focus all of your attention on it, is to bring the strength of your conscious mind, or ego, to bear on the situation. This can be very helpful in solving some types of problems, but not so useful when a more instinctual response is required. The ego can be compared to a magnifying lens, it brings the light of conscious attention to a problem. But the ego is also a filter. It is selective, and takes in information in accordance with its own logic and expectations. Conformed to the worldview of civilized society, much of what it filters out is your instincts, the perceptions and innate wisdom of your ancestral self.
Do you sometimes ignore the subtle sensations of your body, or the hunches, inklings, and gut-level warnings of your intuitive self. This often happens because your conscious mind thinks it knows better. It assumes that if there is something to see, it will see it. Yet, how often have you taken a wrong path, stepped into a trap, or become entangled in an unhealthy situation you might have avoided because you approached things with only your rational mind?
We have a natural tendency to try to solve our problems by bringing them close to our eyes and carefully scrutinizing and analyzing them. But sometimes what we need to do is to relax our vision and focus, hold them off to the side a bit where they start to get blurry, and see what comes forth from our non-rational self, our instincts and intuition. Let your peripheral awareness and twilight consciousness provide the in-sight that your rational mind cannot. Dream a little dream about the problem, listen to your body. Sometimes you see more clearly when you don’t use your eyes.
Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.
Excerpts may be used provided full and clear credit is given author with link to original article.