Soften Your Gaze

Soften Your Gaze

“Choose a focal point and then soften your gaze,” the yoga instructor said. “You may notice that you become more aware of what’s in your peripheral vision.”

I did as instructed, and … yes! … without such intense focus on a single point, I became more aware of the periphery. Plus, my face and body relaxed along with my gaze, tension receding.

I vaguely recall a high school science lesson about cones and rods and color and light and focus—a lesson I can’t now explain, but which made a lasting impression on me. I apply that lesson when I’m first in line at a traffic light: if I look just to the side, instead of directly at the light, I will more quickly notice when it changes.

How else might I soften my gaze to better see the periphery? What is my focal point in a given situation—and if I soften my gaze on that point, might I have better access to a broader perspective?

My brain likes to fixate on minutiae—grammar, specific arrangement of dishes in the dishwasher, precise arrangement of chairs—but what if I chose to relax my attention on those things and consider whether the message is being communicated effectively, or the dishes are getting clean, or the people who are gathered are being nourished in one another’s company?

What if I choose not to focus intently on the loudest, most shiny, most demanding person or thing? Who and what else might get my attention then?

What if The Most Important Thing (in my mind) … isn’t? If I soften my focus, what else of importance emerges around it?

“What you pay attention to grows,” teaches Emergent Strategist adrienne maree brown.

In this time of growth and change and the coming spring, may I soften my gaze enough, expand my view enough, to attend more effectively not only to that which is directly in front of me, but to the variety of things that have the potential to be life-giving, beautiful, and energizing.

What potential is in your periphery?

Softly,
Paige

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