By Gregory Mitchell - Copyright © 2003
5. Developing Visual Imagery
Eyesight improvement techniques are included in this course because they are effective in improving visual imagery and reducing mental 'noise' or distraction. These exercises also have the following effects:
- Increased awareness
- Less tension and worry
- Easier to study
- Improved memory.
When a person tells a lie, it causes a sudden change in eye focus that lasts for a few seconds and then returns to normal. The act of lying requires that mental images are formed that are at variance with reality. This conflict causes tension in the eye musculature and eyesight is affected. For this reason, the compulsive liar will often become chronically shortsighted.
We can only recall and imagine black when the mind is relaxed. This will only occur when we are seeing perfectly, that is, when we are seeing without effort. Most people, when they try to imagine black, experience a visual chaos: instead of blackness they see streaks or floating clouds of grey, flashes of light, patches of color, partial images, fragments from memory and even material from dreams.
This 'noise' corresponds to muscular tension as the result of straining to see, rather than looking without effort. The causes of the tension may be psychological, such as when a person has a high level of anxiety or is fearful, and the muscular tension only then serves to further increase this underlying anxiety. By eliminating the symptoms with the following exercises, this vicious circle is thereby broken.
Many of the sight improvement exercises that we will apply increase the ability to recall and imagine black, because they reduce tension in the optical system and quieten the mind, allowing a black inner visual field. This is a valuable asset as visualization will then require less effort and concentration is facilitated. Mental images will have greater detail and clarity, projected against a black screen. There will be an increase in spatial IQ.
People who find visualization difficult tend to make far fewer eye movements than normal, when they are looking at surrounding objects and faces. Usually they are left-brain dominant and have problems due to poor communication between both sides of the brain. Their visual memory likewise suffers.
Good visualizers, when they look at their surroundings and faces in particular, will tend to trace their outlines and features, shifting rapidly from one point to another. They can create more easily, by visualizing the things they want to achieve and their current reality, so ideas flow more readily. Traumatic memories are also easier to confront and control.
The exercises should be repeated many times. One does the first exercise to gain some familiarity with it and then moves on to do the next, etc., until one has practiced all the exercises in the series. Then one returns to Exercise One, with which one will then be able to obtain greater competence. This approach of rotating the exercises is called a 'cyclic' approach and all the exercises in Mind Development courses are best practiced in this way.
Exercise 1: Palming
This exercise is called 'palming' and may be regarded as the act of cleaning the mental blackboard.
1. Cover the eyes with the hands. Allow one hand to fall upon the other so that the center of each palm is over each eye (but not directly touching the eye) and the heels of the hands are resting on the cheekbones - such that all light is excluded. The eyelids should be closed.
2. Bring your attention to your breath, breathing gently and effortlessly. Notice how the total darkness soothes your eyes and allows your entire body-mind to relax. If you notice yourself thinking, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
3. Relax the eyes by looking at an imaginary distant point. Then imagine pure black, over as wide a field as possible.
At first it's easier to do this in a darkened room. If you have difficulty imagining pure black, then do the steps A, B, and C below. People fail to visualize black either because they cannot see pure black when they look at black objects, or because they are straining the optical system when they try to visualize - the following steps will help:
A. Look at a black object for about 5 seconds, keeping the eyes fixed on it. The smaller the object, the blacker it will appear. Then palm the eyes and recall the object. At first you may only be able to recall the image for a few seconds. When the image is lost, uncovers the eyes and look at the black object again. This is repeated, until you can recall black anytime you want to. When you can recall the object and hold an image for as long as you likes, then you can duplicate the image as many times as required, to cover the whole of the visual field.
B. Recall a color, in as intense a shade as possible. "Recall red," etc. If necessary, examine a physical example of the color before visualizing it. Then recall another color. Start off slowly, gradually increasing the rate that you call off the colors to about one per second. Do not expect instant results! Most mental exercises require considerable practice in order to break down the habits and set patterns of a lifetime.
C. Do this immediately after step B. Observe a piece of unused white chalk, for about 5 seconds. Cover the eyes and imagine the white chalk against a black background. The whiter you try and make the chalk, the blacker the background will become. When the image fades, open the eyes and observe again. This exercise is repeated until you can imagine white at will. When the white chalk can be visualized perfectly, the background will be so black that it would be impossible to remember a blacker black with the eyes closed, or observe anything more black with the eyes open. The black will be utterly black. When you can do step C, then step A will be easier to do and you can return to do the Palming exercise.
Unless the mind is totally relaxed, one cannot produce in the mind an exact image. On the other hand, if you can recall a realistic image of something seen, felt, or heard then your mind is at rest. In these cases, when you close your eyes, you will see pure black.
Listening and Visualizing are related skills. Indeed, Japanese Samurai warriors were taught that to visualize well, they must learn to listen, and performed combat exercises blindfolded to improve their aural perception and corresponding visualization. To listen or to visualize well the mind must be relaxed. Therefore, learning to visualize also helps listening and learning to listen helps you to visualize.
Exercise 2: The Black Object
At times during the day recall the memory of a black object. When the mind is under strain, this can be particularly helpful. Do not use effort to recall the small black area; let the black area come into mind. You will then be relaxed and calm. With continued practice, it will become easier to do this: the image will become blacker, and the mind more relaxed.
If it is not easy to recall, then your mind is not calm and a period of palming would be helpful. One could also call to mind an earlier successful attempt at recalling black, and this will, in turn, bring about the relaxed state which went with it.
The effects of practice will tend to be cumulative.; after a time this memory will always be there on tap. This can be used as ongoing self-assessment, a type of biofeedback, the speed of access to this memory indicating your state of mental stress or relaxation.
Exercise 3: Look Around
A good visualizer is constantly making many small, rapid, smooth eye movements, whereas a bad visualizer makes slow and jerky eye movements. This exercise helps to improve visualization by training the eye movements.
In this exercise, you start off looking ahead and then glance at objects placed around all sides and corners of the room. Move the head a minimal amount; the emphasis should be on moving the eyes. But don't simply move your eye, you should also look. To check this, each time re-visualize the object you glanced at.
Select objects at random, near and far, left, right, up, down, etc. When you can do this well, the pace can gradually be speeded up and more objects can be selected, until all the room is covered. The same exercise can be repeated outdoors.
Exercise 4: Near - Far
This exercise consists of shifting attention from something near to something far. The emphasis is on focusing rather than eye movement.
Sit so you can see two objects at the same time: one placed nearby, about 1 foot away, and the other placed behind about 15 feet away (approximating infinity for practical purposes). The objects are aligned at the centre of your visual field, so that it is easy to focus on either of them without shifting the gaze.
Alternate between looking at the near object and the far object and do this as quickly as possible. When looking at the near object, the far object will be out of focus and vice versa. Try to observe how these two states, near focus and distant, feel. Then when you recall those two feelings you will find that you are exercising voluntary control over your eye focus.
Start at one alternation per second and speed up gradually to three per second.
Exercise 5: Nose Writing
1. Close your eyes and imagine a black visual field, the mental blackboard.
2. Imagine a length of very white chalk on the end of your nose.
3. By making slight head movements, write imaginary letters on your imaginary blackboard.
4. When you are able to do this well, practice writing some words in longhand using the chalk on the end of your nose.
5. With practice, speed up the writing and also visualize the words you have written, until you can see several sentences of white writing on the blackboard covering your visual field.
This exercise helps to link the two sides of the brain. Studies have been made of this exercise in conjunction with an E.E.G and it has been found that imagining the blackboard increases E.E.G. activity in the right hemisphere of the brain (the context). Imagining the chalk increases activity in the left hemisphere (the focus). Moving the head when 'nose-writing', causes pronounced synchronization of the rhythms of brain waves between the hemispheres, i.e. improved whole-brain integration.
Exercise 6: Blinkers Away
People who are intuitive in their perception and their action are much more AWARE than the majority. They notice what is going on in their peripheral vision; whereas fearful or heavily conditioned, 'field dependent' people tend to have tunnel vision. They tend to see the world with blinkers on, only seeing what is directly in front of them and not looking aside, scared that the status quo might be taken away from them. Tunnel vision is counter-intuitive and it is an obstacle to mind development. This exercise will make you more aware of the incidental things and, therefore, more aware and generally intuitive.
1. Set up a small object, a cup for example, about 8 feet away from you and directly in the center of your visual field. Sit directly facing the object, which is at eye height. Focus on the centre of the cup and don't move your eyes.
2. The intention is to extend your visual range, to see more in your peripheral vision. Without removing your focus on the object, mentally concentrate on the left for up to 8 seconds and describe what you can see in your peripheral vision. Then move your awareness to the top of your visual field, and so on to cover all that you can see. Doing this means that you shift your attention mentally. Your eyes should not move and you must hold on to your fixation point. Try to 'see' as far to the extremes as you can, but don't let your eyes move to follow your peripheral attention.
3. Go round the visual area in a spiral, and each time round, increase the area you can perceive in this manner. Shift your attention mentally, not with your eyes. Then revert to the centre and spiral out again.
Exercise 7: Visual Acuity
This is an exercise that will enhance your ability to observe. Typically a student with normal eyesight can read a typewritten page under good lighting conditions at about 4 - 6 feet. With practice this distance can be increased to as much as 12 feet and there will be a parallel improvement in the detail and liveliness of mental imagery.
1. Sellotape a page of typing on the wall of your room. Then with the aid of a measuring tape, note the maximum distance at which you can read the page.
2. Position a chair so that you are seated at 80% of the previously measured maximum reading distance. Make a mark or stick a pin in the carpet at this exact position of the chair so at the next session you can reposition it accurately.
3. Every day a fresh page should be taped on the wall and the chair moved back slightly, just by one inch. Do not be tempted to be more ambitious since by changing the situation only a little, the mind is fooled into accepting the new situation as the old and therefore the old habit pattern is changed subversively. By following this routine you will find that after about two weeks or so, you will be reading a page at your original maximum distance but doing so without difficulty!
4. Once you have reached your original maximum reading distance the chair should only be moved back by about a quarter of an inch per day. Continue at this rate and your maximum reading distance will increase by about one foot per month, and by the end of six months it will have doubled.
For an increase in visual acuity of this magnitude certain physical changes have to take place in the nervous system. These kind of changes require several months but once they have taken place the change is permanent.
Exercise 8: Seeing / Not Seeing
Look at the following diagram and try to see
a) Only the center dot (by ignoring the outer circles)
b) Only the two outer circles (by ignoring the center dot)
c) Only one of the outer circles (by ignoring the dot and other circle)
Exercise 9: Now I am aware...
Step 1. For a period of 5 minutes make the statement: "Now I am aware of...." and complete the statement by reporting what you see right now; then what you hear right now; then what you feel right now; then what you are smelling right now; finally what you are tasting right now; then repeat the cycle.
Step 2. Once you are familiar with this basic procedure, you should squeeze your right thumb when you report what you are currently seeing. When you repeat what you are currently hearing, squeeze your index finger; when you report what you are feeling, squeeze your middle finger; when you report what you are smelling, squeeze your ring finger; and when you report what you are tasting, squeeze your little finger.
You should associate the idea that when you squeeze the fingers on your right hand, this will pertain to your perceptions of the outside world. This will set up a Pavlovian response that can be exploited as follows:
i) When you squeeze your thumb, your visual sense will be heightened.
ii) When you squeeze your index finger, your auditory sense will become more intense.
iii) When you squeeze your middle finger, your feeling awareness will be augmented.
iii) When you squeeze your ring finger, your sense of smell will be more intense.
iii) When you squeeze your little finger, your sense of taste will be more clear.
Step 3. When you touch the fingers on your left hand, this should be associated with internal sights, sounds, feelings, etc., and in this way your mental imagery will likewise be intensified.
Individuals with bad eyesight (not inherited or diseased) are generally fearful - this may be manifest, or just below the surface. Such a person has less tolerance of stress and therefore problems with visualization and memory. They will tend to be more left-brain dominant than average, because the logical mind has to work harder to keep thinking 'up to standard' when the intuitive mind is not providing ready answers (based on structure and context).
Good eyesight, good memory and the ability to imagine in pictures usually go together. The exercises described in this course will go a long way towards solving perceptual problems, but some students may of course still need to wear glasses! When possible, though, the exercises should be done without them.
When you've practiced these exercises and achieved some competence, notice how this carries over to your everyday eye movements, the feeling of tension in your eyes and your corresponding state of mental relaxation and intuition.
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Copyright © 2004 Gregory Mitchell - Published by Trans4mind