Recently when I was in the grocery store. I went to the produce section to buy my favorite salad. I know exactly where it is usually located and found the space on the shelf empty. I was a bit disappointed but continued my shopping; leaving the store without any salad.
Later that day I took a yoga class. At the end of the practice we did a pose called Savasana, which is a pose of total relaxation. In that very relaxing moment, I got a vision of the entire produce section of the store and realized there were at least 15 other kinds of salad from which to choose. I was so focused on my favorite, I couldn’t see the other available options.
You may be wondering what choosing a salad has to do with anxiety.
Sometimes we create anxiety for ourselves because we are so focused on one thing, that we don’t realize all the options that are available to us. During that relaxing pose, I became aware of possibilities.
Here is an easy way for you to get into a relaxing state and open your mind to possibilities.
This exercise is a good way to help you look at things from a different perspective. It can be used to get you into a relaxed state prior to giving a speech, trying to problem solve or experiencing writer's block.
When I was in the store looking for my salad, I was not paying attention to anything else.
This is what we often do, so focused on our task at hand, that we don’t realize there is so much more going on.
This exercise will assist you to go into peripheral vision. I learned it from one of my NLP trainers, John Overdurf. It can be used as a way to get into a relaxed state. Peripheral vision is defined as the ability to see things to the side as you are looking straight ahead. We often use this naturally while driving.
When we are in peripheral vision, we are generally connected to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of our nervous system that slows down the breathing and heartbeat and calms us.
Many times when people are in peripheral vision, they notice their muscles begin to relax and breathing slows down.
How to go into peripheral vision:
1 - While sitting comfortably with head level, look straight ahead. Find a spot to look at that is slightly above eye level. As you look at that spot, take a few moments to notice the details of that spot.
2 - Now, while still looking at that particular spot, let your vision soften and as you do this, let your awareness expand out to the front corners of the room. You are keeping your eyes on that spot, however, you are now using your side or peripheral vision. And as your awareness expands, notice you can allow it to expand down the sides of the room, while still looking at that spot.
3 - Now bring your awareness back up the sides of the room, back to the point that you were initially focusing on.
4 - Repeat 2 and 3 and notice how your body feels.
5 - Once again, focus your attention on that spot straight ahead of you. Again, gently allow your awareness to expand to the front corners of the room, down the sides of the room. And this time, while still focusing on that spot, you also have an awareness of what is behind you. While you are not looking behind you, you certainly have an awareness of what is behind you. As you do this, you may notice that your breathing has slowed down and your facial muscles have loosened and relaxed.
6 - Once again, bring your awareness back up the sides of the room, back to the point that you were initially focusing on.
6 - Repeat 5 and this time, allow your awareness to expand above and below you. Just notice how your breathing slows down and body begins to relax. As you continue in this peripheral vision for a few moments, you may begin notice that your awareness has expanded. Now gently bring your awareness back into the room and back up to that spot that you were originally focused on.
7 - Let your awareness come back fully into the room, once again narrowing your focus on that spot out in front of you.
This is a good technique to use when you are trying to solve a problem and feel stuck.
I recently used it when I was writing a particularly challenging email. I just couldn’t come up with a way to write it that accurately conveyed my message and tone. I stopped trying, then took a few moments to go into peripheral vision. It was amazing how easily my words flowed after doing this simple exercise and gave me a new perspective on what to write.