Panoramic Vision - Destress AND Improve Posture
You know how you just feel SO GOOD when your eyes look out over an ocean at that faraway horizon? Do those walks and bike rides on the beach make you feel happier just because of the wonderful sand and the beautiful ocean?
And what about those overlooks in the mountains where everyone pulls over to gasp at the view? And what about all those Instagram photo ops at great heights or in remote locations that make us drool? Is there something more to these places than beauty that draws us in?
Now, pause right HERE, right NOW. Really! Notice the way your eyes are focusing to read these words. Stay with me. Don’t shift a thing. Now notice the shape and feel of your body, especially the muscles in your shoulders, upper back and neck area. Notice your breath.
Now, for comparison, after you read this sentence of course, take a moment to look at an open area around you, as far out as your space will allow. A room through an open doorway, out a window nearby… let your gaze expand. Don’t focus on one object but allow your gaze to be soft. Observe how your body responds to this shift. Notice your breath while you’re there.
If you went along with the experiment, I’m going to guess that you probably felt your posture change when you switched to the open, panoramic gaze and that you maybe took a nice conscious breath that felt good.
When I was training clients in my Dilworth Artisan Station studio, I had the great fortune to have a wonderful and spacious view towards uptown Charlotte. In the days before development increased and new buildings sprung up, the view was very wide open. I had the Wunda Chairs, one of the pieces of Pilates apparatus, placed so that one could look out while doing standing leg pumps. I used to cue clients to look out into that spaciousness in order to free up the neck and give more length to the spine.
The change for them, and even for me as I would cue it, would immediately create better alignment. “Look out at an imaginary horizon.” is a pretty standard directive I will give someone to improve head and neck alignment. Now, after listening to Andrew Huberman’s Instagram posts and now podcasts, I use this shift in focus much more consciously and purposely for more than just an alignment fix. I will shift into panoramic vision periodically when I can feel eye fatigue from computer work, a build-up of stress, or when I can feel a negative thought pattern that wants to take hold.
Andrew Huberman is a professor of neurobiology and opthamology at Stanford University. Anyone who knows me well enough knows a hobby of mine is learning about the brain/body relationship beyond my own experiences, and his informative and engaging presentations keep my brain snapping with connections (no pun intended but it’s kind of a good one, lol) between my own interests and observations over the years with the scientific information he discusses.
If you’d like to check out his podcast, here is link. Skip to 58:00 to get right to a section where he explains how you can use panoramic vision for stress modulation. Once you become conscious of these shifts in visual focus and how you can go back and forth at will, there’s no going back. You will have an awesome tool in your toolbox to use anywhere you need in this thing called LIFE.