Sometimes you need to relax when you’re out and about and it’s not convenient to take twenty minutes to lie down and relax totally: maybe on your way to a crucial appointment, in an interview, giving a presentation, or any other situation normally regarded as highly stressful. Here is a way to relax that my clients have found work for them, and that you can use to relax anywhere.
Look at the wall opposite you and find a point which is straight ahead and a little above eye level. Continue to look at this point in soft focus throughout this exercise. After a while you may find that as you concentrate on this point the rest of the room goes a little dark, or vague, or fuzzy, and you develop a kind of tunnel vision. We use this tunnel vision a lot in modern society – watching TV or using a computer, we only see the screen; when we read or write, we are focused on the words; even when we talk to someone, we often only look at their eyes or their face and ignore the rest of them. This tunnel vision goes with a kind of inner ’tunnel vision’, where we get obsessed or fixated on things, and it goes with worry, adrenaline, rushing around, stress….
Broaden Your Field of Vision
But there is another way of looking at things, and I’d like you to experience that now. Keeping your eyes on that point, begin to broaden your field of vision and notice more and more of what’s either side of that point, so that soon you’re paying attention to what you can see out of the corners of your eyes on each side. And you can take your awareness even further around behind you than that; all the way round, 360 degrees; of course I’m not suggesting that you can see behind you, but you can use your sense of hearing or spatial awareness to be aware of what’s behind you as well.
As you stay in peripheral vision, you may notice that your breathing has moved lower down in your chest and maybe slowed down or become deeper; that the muscles of your face have relaxed, perhaps especially your jaw muscles, and you can help those along to relax even more; and it’s probably too soon for this to have happened just yet, but if you were to stay in peripheral vision for any length of time, you might find your hands begin to get warm; or even your feet. But it’s probably a bit soon for that to have happened just yet.
The interesting thing is that when you go into peripheral vision you seem to activate the parasympathetic nervous system; the part of your nervous system that calms you down, and slows you down, and lets your mind, and body and emotions come back into balance.
So begin to come back by letting your field of vision return to normal. Peripheral vision is particularly useful when speaking in public; not only does it calm your nerves, but you can see the whole audience, and you are much more aware of any little movements they make, so you can gauge how they are reacting. You only need to go into peripheral vision a little way to contact that deep reserve of peace and tranquillity that exists in each one of us.
If you’re the kind of person who normally has a lot of internal dialogue or commentary, what happened to it while you were in peripheral vision? Many people find it slows down or stops altogether.