Tuesday, January 26, 2010

26. Changing Views

The Idea: Vision is more than physical eyesight: Our experiences inform our vision. By tapping into our experiences, we can heighten our sense of vision. By widening our experiences, we can increase visually ability exponentially.

Set Up: For this exercise you'll need an apple or some other object. The example given here uses an apple.

How To:
1. Imagine that you are hungry and look at the apple. Look at it with feelings of desire you sink your teeth into it and biting off a chunk of its sweet flesh. As you look at the apple, think about its taste and its power to nourish you and satisfy your craving. Look at the apple through this lens of desire. Now close your eyes and let that go—you are no longer a hungry person.
2. Open your eyes and look at the apple through the perspective of a painter. Your desire for this apple is no longer about flavor or nourishment, but about line, color, contour, texture, light an shadow, and how these aspects can be translated into an image with oils and a brush. Though your desire for this apple is purely aesthetic, feel it just as strongly as you did when your were hungry. Now close your eyes and let that go—you are no longer a painter.
3. Put your hands behind your back and open your eyes. You are now 7 years old and at a Halloween party and this apple is floating, with others, in a barrel of cold water. Your desire for this apple is now strategic: How can you clamp your little mouth around this big round fruit and pull it ou of the water before your face freezes off? That is the objective in a game of Bobbing for Apples and therefore your strongest desire in this moment. Now close your eyes and let that go—you are no longer a little kid.
4. Open your eyes and look at the apple and imagine that it is huge—looming up in front of you. Now you are a tiny worm, preparing to burrow into the side of this apple. Look at it from this perspective: Where would be the best place to tunnel in?
5. Continue closing the eyes, shifting perspectives, and looking at the apple through the lens of different desires.

What's Going On: Each time we look at something with varying intentions, we inevitably pick up different details about that thing. The same automobile will look different to a mechanic, a chauffeur, a meter maid, and a car thief, but someone who's been more than one of things will notice more aspects of the auto. This exercise uses the brain, as well as the eyes, to improve the vision.

Testimonial: I've led this exercise with friends and students, bringing apples into my classes (yoga and theater) and giving one to everybody. It's a great meditation to begin a lesson with, and then to return at the end with people possibly choosing to eat their apples.

More Info:
• I took this exercise from Marc Grossman's book Greater Vision.

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