I did my 10 minute presentation on peripheral awareness yesterday. I wish we’d had more time! I’m learning how to teach this by teaching it, and one attendee asked me a great question:
What would someone get out of learning this?
Thanks, Xtevan. That seems worthy of a blog post! So here are my top reasons for learning peripheral awareness, peripheral walking, and night walking.
- Using more of your human capabilities, which means you have more resources. You could have a choice about how to see.
- Better mood. The neurology of peripheral vision affects your state. When you’re doing it, it’s impossible to feel anxious or depressed. Your center of gravity drops, and your breathing slows. You feel more relaxed.
- Shifting attention away from minor pains and discomfort.
- Ecstatic states. Feeling joy, feeling euphoric, feeling very “in your body” and connected to the planet. Feeling really, really alive. Feeling one with everything.
- Altered states of consciousness! You may experience trippy effects such as “eating the trail,” a feeling of levitation and of being still while the scenery moves past you (while you’re actually walking). And more!
- Trust in your unconscious mind. The wiring used in peripheral walking and night walking bypasses your conscious mind. Thus, you step over a rock before your conscious mind perceives it’s there. It’s uncanny and takes some getting used to.
- No thought, stopping the world, shushing the internal dialog.
- The ability to see in nearly complete darkness. It takes about 20 minutes for the eyes to adjust to the dark, of course. With practice, you could do night walking in a remote place over uneven terrain on moonless or cloudy nights with no problem. You would be much more aware of nocturnal creatures and their activities.
- An advantage in activities where seeing more of your surroundings is key. Great basketball players know where the other players are and where the ball is while moving quickly around the court. Martial artists, gymnasts, dancers, other team sports players, long-distance runners and more can all benefit.
- Enhancement of other senses. Hearing and proprioception become sharper.
- You could also have more resources in unsafe situations, such as being where sneaky predators of any kind are, whether urban or rural jungle.
- When night walking, you can see the energy of some plants, which appears as a moving bioluminescence.
- The world you’ve always known becomes new.
Some of these benefits don’t happen right away. The originator, Nelson Zink, said it takes 15-20 hours of using a peripheral training device for the eyes to become trained not to switch to focused vision and for the eyes to consistently focus where they’ve been trained to gaze without a device. (He said they always took them with them, though.)
Oh, and walking in public wearing a peripheral vision training device definitely helps keep Austin weird! That’s another good reason to do it!
No wonder the great Japanese sword fighter Musashino said in The Book of Five Rings:
It is necessary in strategy to be able to look to both sides without moving the eyeballs. You cannot master this ability quickly. Learn what is written here: use this gaze in everyday life and do not vary it whatever happens.
If you find this interesting and are in the Austin, TX, area, I teach peripheral awareness/walking for 1-3 people at a time. We walk on city trails. This is required before night walking, which can be arranged when demand is sufficient.