GOING PANORAMICThis page is still being developed
Panoraming in its purist and most intensive form – as all vulnerable animals use it, to stay safe – is a state of being purposefully and actively receptive.
It is a state of intensive waiting – ready and waiting for anything and everything which could indicate danger.
Historical PerspectiveOver the course of hundreds of thousands of years, the time spent on, and intensity of focused visual attention has steadily increased. From fashioning stone-axes and aiming arrows, to reading and writing; telescopes and microscopes, television, and now the miniature 6 x 3 inch cell phone.
Even a century ago, we had panoramic countrysides to stimulate our panoramic awareness naturally, while walking to work. The modern city dweller is overwhelmed by either boring walls or colourful focal points: lights, signs, adverts, shops, and other people.
Experience of Pure Panoramic Sensing
At first we see all the regular movements, and the cars always drive on the same roads, and the dog walkers follow the same paths, humans seem to almost always make predictable movements – they stick to the paths, they are almost always horizontal, and they have a predictable momentum, compare this to a squirrel or a bird, the sudden starts and stops, the irrational routes they take from A to B...
When it's wind still at night, i just see the shadows and light in the sky, but then a neighbour's window lights up; or lying in bed looking at my boring ceiling, i just see the still colours on the walls, but then a fly goes by – and i notice the change straight away.
When the world is still or regular and predictable then i sense everything, but mostly it's the trees and bushes swaying in the wind, and i dont think i would really notice i was receptive panoramically, except that when something quick starts happening i notice it, often coming in from the periphery, or from behind a building.
But on busy days, then i realise something is happening which is nothing like what i do with focused vision, watching 2 or 3 birds and then a squirrel jumps from a tree... for a split second i'm only aware of the new event, the squirrel – i dont focus on him directly, but i know my mind has recognised "squirrel" and afterwards i am aware of the place where he's sitting, while watching the 3 birds...
And when the birds have flown by, then i notice the bushes swaying gently again... It's always the quicker things which dominate the attention... even the miniature flies dancing chaotically right up close... and if there are a lot of little flies, it seems i can ignore them... maybe they become regular, predictable, background.
I sense the quick unpredictable things, and the more unpredictable and quicker they are, (or larger so generally nearer) the more noticeable they are... this is my experience and it just seems so sensible and appropriate that animals would need to sense like this in order to survive.
Switching It OnThe ability to switch it on is the first step.
Find somewhere outside with a full open view and without any walls. This is probably the most difficult guideline for city dwellers; but street corners are good – do the best you can.
These days, i have a balcony with about 160° sidewards vision, i can position myself so i have one side open and a window reflection on the other, but up and down is concrete. Tiny flies sometimes fly by, but generally i have to adapt, and remind myself to look at the ceiling, walls and floor.
The wall behind on two sides is annoying because it inhibits sound. It distorts the sense of spacial reality. I'm sure this is something blind people have reported, the sense of where they are in relation to the sounds around them, is a valuable form of reality.
Stay still: When you are moving, there is less awareness of everything else which is moving. It's the awareness of every small change and movement in the environment which is vital for an animal's survival – and to do this in the optimal way, as animals do it, be motionless and hold the head still. Empathise with the kingfisher and hawk.
Alternated with focused activity, animals often use it for only a few seconds. Watch the blackbird. Humans are out of practice, we may need a little more time, but the basic animal guidelines still apply, and especially to start with humans should do each exercise for only ten seconds to half a minute, at a time.
There are lots of reasons for starting with short periods.
It's a knack rather than something to be found by concentrated effort.
To create a feeling of urgency – it's got to be done now, and in a minutes time it'll be too late.
To realise that you can turn it on any time, without doing anything to prepare for it.
A few seconds is long enough to interrupt any repetitive thought.
All human babies do it. It's easy, natural, it's a human birthright.
The repetitive impulse of short regular periods of stimulation will act as a catalyst: they are the best way to tell your subconscious "it's time to remember".
Short periods reduce the concentrated work-load, make it easy, make it fun. To generate motivation we need to enjoy something, and if doing this – or even trying to do this – is enjoyable or interesting, then we will want to repeat it.
Humans have no natural predators. Humans lack the motivation to go panoramic. A minute a day which leaves you wanting more, is immeasurably better than 20 minutes trying to do it, and getting bored and distracted.
It's a clever idea to check your feelings for a few seconds after doing it. By consciously recognising the sort of feelings created by panoramic sensing, we will generate curiosity about it and want to repeat it.
If you want to make it a priority, then instead of long meditation sessions, do it several times a day for ten seconds.
Once you can do it, then i believe you will want to do it for short periods several times a day. If you follow the guidelines for vulnerable animals then it is used frequently for 5 second periods during any focused activity.
Riding TrainsA good idea is, sitting in a train, facing in the direction of travel, focus on something in front or up on the roof, and then watch the world going by on both sides.
The peripheries always diverge when facing forward, they encourage an expansion of the sidewards vision; if you sit going backwards, the visual field converges.
When WalkingWhile walking, look a little above the horizon, this activates the downward panoramic vision. This is an idea i picked up 40 years ago from Carlos Castañeda's books on Don Juan, before i learnt anything about panoramic sensing.
The reason i found it good and remembered it, was because when walking in nature, to adapt to the uneven ground, i involuntarily and immediately started bending the knees and walking with a 'bounce'.
Relaxed walking in nature can often bring us to the edge of this way of sensing. Most people are vaguely aware of about 60°-90° of the panoramic horizontal centre field. Making this conscious is a good idea.
Comparison with MeditationThis is not really a meditation. I'm not wanting us to all space out in a new panoramic world. To use the panorama senses continuously would probably lead to trance and futility.
It isn't done by stopping focusing, focusing on not focusing, or anything else which leads us down the path of paradoxes and non-duality. It's done by panoraming.
Meditation normally uses inspiring focal points. Panoraming doesn't replace focused activity, it makes it safe. It's value is when coordinated or alternated with focused activity. So it would be advantageous to incorporate panoramic periods in any meditation.
When dozing it can be used for hours at a time, but then animals use it in a less intense manner. Longer period can be combined with inner-body awareness. Inner-body awareness opens up new dimensions; we can listen focused on a bone in the spine, or listen internally in a panoramic way.
Group PanoramingIn its most intense form this is a solitary practice. Herds and animal groups have different behaviour patterns to solitary animals, they are more relaxed. The reason is obvious, in a herd or any animal group, only one needs to pick up any warning sign, this is actively communicated, and the others respond without hesitation or question.
I remember once watching a blackbird, a pheasant, a deer and a hare, all grazing within two meters of each other – a wonderful collection of different sensory abilities – and they were all more or less facing each other, randomly taking it in turns to check their surroundings.
But just as a nice extra idea: Humans primary sense is vision, so any sensible two humans would do it back to back. Any group would be in a circle back to back.
Why not have a cuppa? (cup of tea)Many forms of diversion can help bring life's problems in balance, give new perspectives, even bring peace.
But this isn't just letting go or relaxing. And there's a big difference between diverting our attention by doing something else, like having a cigarette or a cuppa tea – and directly and actively stopping the system which generates all abstract ideas. Panoraming is the active, direct, and natural way to stop all thinking and doing.
Please continue with Warm Up Exercises and Ideal Situations