At first, i couldn't understand how animals used their panoramic vision to look at everything, because as soon as i tried to be aware of something on the periphery, my focus always went automatically to that point.

So i fixed my eyes on a point straight in front, and then directed my attention to a point on the periphery, at about 30° up on one side. I immediately realised i could see points on the peripheries at 30° up on both sides simultaneously, still physically focusing on a boring focal point in front.

And it was interesting – it often changed my mood, even after just 30 seconds – so i wanted to do it more and find out what was happening.

Try it out yourself.

Slowly, over a period of around three weeks, i chose different angles and looked over all the points of the compass.

Then one day i realised that if i looked at a blank space in the sky, i could see the whole oval shape of my field of vision with multiple things moving inside it.

I don't think it's necessary for beginners to take three weeks. But i don't yet know the simplest way for beginners to get into the feeling.

Animal Guidelines

Animals often use their senses in a panoramic way for very short, intense periods. It's a knack rather than something to be found by concentration. If we follow the animal guidelines, then short half minute periods are best to start with.

Short regular periods of stimulation will act as a catalyst: they are the best way to tell your subconscious "it's time to remember".

Be motionless and hold the head still. if you are moving, there is less awareness of everything else which is moving.

And to do this in the optimal way, as animals do it, find somewhere outside with a full open view and no walls. Animals developed this sense for use outdoors where things are moving and changing, long before humans invented safety indoors. Indoors, there is no natural basis or incentive to go panoramic.

Going outside is probably the most difficult guideline. I had luck, i learnt in a sunny spell in spring where i was in a garden everyday. If it's winter and night... you'll just freeze and not see anything moving... to get the full effect with panoramic seeing you need daylight with birds and the occasional squirrel.

(See Going Panoramic for more on the basic approach).

Going On The Lookout – The Pure-School Method

Generally, we are so trained to focus, that as soon as something moves or starts flashing we look directly at it, and this dominates and overwhelms our panoramic awareness.

To overcome this habitual focusing find a blank featureless wall, or a large monotonous area of sky, any area which has no focal point, and look directly at it with your eyes, but then concentrate on everything else.

If there is no monotonous area – then find a boring, neutral, and motionless focal point straight ahead, a mark on a post or the corner of a building, anything which isn't interesting and doesn't move, fix your eyes on it but be aware of, and on the lookout for everything else.

Look at everything you can see, and see everything you're looking at. Wait until it all becomes the oval shape of your field of vision, then look at the whole picture. Maybe you will see lots of things moving, just notice them all, but don't look at them. Keep looking at the whole picture without focusing on anything specific.

My experience is that instead of looking at the world like a T.V. screen, it feels as though i'm right up inside the screen. The normal feeling of a subject looking at an object is considerably different. Panoraming is a 'being with' what i'm seeing, instead of looking at it.

Occasionally we have an intense experience of pleasure and fulfilment, when looking into the distance over the ocean, at the stars, or with a panoramic landscape. At those times, we're not focusing on anything specific, we're just amazed at everything, and it opens our senses in a special way.

By using our eyes in a panoramic way, we can find a degree of this amazement, without having anything awesome or beautiful to sense.

This way of sensing belongs with love and empathy as a state of being where the subject is intimately involved with the object. These ideas are developed in The Benefits of Panoramic Sensing.

Unlocking The Feeling

This is something we could all do as babies. It is locked away in our subconscious. It is such a basic element of life that there must be a simple way to unlock it.

Exercise 2 in Lookout Experiments and Games might be an almost instant way for people to get started. It will remind you of 'the feeling' and the sort of effect it has, and then you could try the 'pure school' method again.

There are a number of excellent methods in Lookout Experiments and Games, which will help you unlock the feeling and speed up the learning process.

Note: Problems with Rimmed Glasses

It's very difficult to do with rimmed glasses on, so take them off, with blurred vision you will still be able to recognise movements. And i haven't yet been able to ask anyone who wears contact lenses, but imagine this presents no problems.

Please continue with The Simple Sense of Now

Back to Chapter One : How Animals Practice Mindfulness