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An exercise for broadening the visual field

Hi there, I thought people might be interested in this simple exercise for broadening awareness.  It comes from my physical practice and is adapted from martial arts with a buddhist influence.  But it is simple enough to do while sitting at the computer !

1. Calm the mind, so that it is like a still pool of water.
2. Look to the front while defocussing the eyes, (from budo "look at your opponent as you would look at a distant mountain.")
3. WIthout focussing or moving the eyes, practice putting your attention on the periphery of the visual field.
4. Then hold up your left hand, with one finger raised, about 30 cm in front of your eyes (don't focus on it - keep looking at the mountain).
5. Move your finger counterclockwise in a curve towards your left ear. Track it visually, but don't move your eyes.
6. Find the point at which you lose sight of the finger. At that point, move it back and forth, raise and lower additional fingers. Work out the limit of your visual field versus by perceiving movement in the fingers or counting the number of fingers being held upright.
7. Repeat 4-6 with the right hand, clockwise to the right ear.  Remember, don't move or focus your eyes.
8. Repeat using both hands simultaneously. Find the limits of your preception - try to get to near-180 degree visual awareness.
9. Then drop your hands. Add hearing and body sense to deepen awareness and fill in the whole sensory field, including behind you.
10. Sit or walk around enjoying this 360 degree perception. If you have some residual focus, push it up through the crown of the head so that it doesn't solidify in front of you.

You should then have mind like a pool of water, eyes like the moon, no narrative thought, and an intuitive awareness of the total field of perception. You might even get into a very lite jhana. It that doesn't work, then practice it for five minutes a day.  Soon you will be able to summon up this broad perceptual state without using the finger exercises.

If you wear glasses, take them off while you learn. They make it harder to defocus and the frame may block peripheral vision.

Metta

Malcolm

RE: An exercise for broadening the visual field
Answer
4/2/20 8:00 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
If you wear glasses, take them off while you learn. They make it harder to defocus and the frame may block peripheral vision.

Awesome fun! I wish I had seen this earlier. 

I started wearing glasses when I was fairly young. I don't recall what age. I do remember that around the age of... 11 or so...I would get motion sick wearing them because my field of view was well outside the scope of my glasses. The clear portion was clear and everything outside it would move and make me sick - the ground was obviously moving beneath my perspective outside the clear frame of view. It was disorienting and nauseating. It took a while to go away. I actually got different glasses to help  - huge television screens that look completely absurd on an 11 year old's head. The family photos are something - I have the same glasses as my 70 year old grandfather. 

Now it's back, but I can modulate it better when I wear the glasses. I wish I'd realized how useful that was at age 11 and not trained myself out of it. 

RE: An exercise for broadening the visual field
Answer
4/2/20 8:15 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
Hm, I actually already do this, all of it, albeit not as systematically as I probably could. Formalizing it into a deliberate practice might be a good idea. I do it more as play, just because it has somehow become possible and it is fascinating. Thanks for this very tangible pointer! And for the more subtle ones to the same thing that you have already given me. 

RE: An exercise for broadening the visual field
Answer
4/2/20 8:17 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
As for the glasses part, I didn't get around to get myself proper glasses for several years, so that may have helped. emoticon

RE: An exercise for broadening the visual field
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4/2/20 9:48 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
Nice, Malcolm! I used to do stuff like this as a kid.

RE: An exercise for broadening the visual field
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4/2/20 11:13 AM as a reply to Not two, not one.
This is a great exercise, and post-Stream Entry should pay very real dividends if time is invested in exploring it. 

Dreamweaver's "Framework of Awakening" has a version of this that is where I first picked it up, as well as ideas for expanding the other sense doors:

https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/5800908

I also have this snippet from one-time poster Pawel that is worth exploring - a variation of the Tibetan practice of seeing the world as dream-like:

2. Do not try to see reality and see mind projection instead.
What you are seeing is always projection of your mind but instead of seeing it you force eyes to refresh mind contents, actualize it, make it look more detailed and real. It seems like a good idea but it is not because it is tiring to eyes and make you see unprocessed data. When you look at mind projection it have all details presented in a way that are easy to decode, they are already preprocessed and easy to operate on. Eyes can do their magic on their own and fill this projection with actual details, nothing will miss, so do not worry about accuracy, all important details will be there, even if eyes can't really see them well enough. 

What ever happened to Pawel?

RE: An exercise for broadening the visual field
Answer
4/2/20 11:47 AM as a reply to Stirling Campbell.
Woot! I'm weaving! Hahaha
~D

RE: An exercise for broadening the visual field
Answer
4/2/20 1:16 PM as a reply to Not two, not one.
Wow, out from deep in the back of the fridge.  Originally posted almost two years ago!   Glad you found it useful T, and others.

Also, great to see you around Dream Walker.  I have been enjoying your model and have a data point for you, so will add it to your discussion seeing as you are checking in.

Malcolm

RE: An exercise for broadening the visual field
Answer
4/3/20 11:04 AM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Weave? I didn't even know you sewed! emoticon

Seriously though, glad to see your avatar and apologies for the misnomer glitch. Too much 70's rock in isolation. I notice that you were planning to update those suggestions... I, for one, would be curious to see what you have to add to them.