Vision is the process of deriving meaning from what is seen.
Most of us have the beauty of sight. We can see the table in front of us, the kitchen that’s begging for attention, and the bathroom that needs cleaning. We can ‘see ‘a multitude of items, label it and create a meaning from it. The sight of a washing basket waiting to be folded can conjure feelings of avoidance; conversely the sight of puppy can fill your heart with love and joy.
80% of what we learn from the world around us is due to perception, learning, cognition, and activities that are translated though what we see.
Vision has a multifaceted physiology;
· Sharpness of image – 20/20 vision, clarity
· Field of view- the panorama of what we see
· Motor abilities- alignment of the eyes. Turning out, in, down and up.
· Perception - what is the information being fed back to our brain that we are ‘seeing’.
Our eyes have the ability to fixate on an object, follow in pursuit of a moving object such as a bird, to scan and to change focus of objects near and far. As primitive creatures, our development relied on these adjustments for survival.
We visually perceive and retain memories that form our cognitive development by:
· Visual-motor Integration; Body – eye coordination.
· Visual-Auditory Integration; What is being seen and how they relates to what we hear
· Memory recall- our visual memory that recalls information that is being seen
· Visual Closure; filling the gaps when only seeing some of the parts
· Spatial awareness; Where you are in relation to people or objects around you or in relation to one another
· Depth Perception; the ability to discern an object from the background. The depth of field.
When we step outdoors, into Nature we have the platform to utilise and strengthen these aspects of vision. The expansiveness of Nature can be translated to the euphoric feeling of being wild, free and unrestrained. Forests or woodlands offer the opportunity to saturate your perception with the details. The light filtering through the trees; the rain drops that sit delicately on the leaves, to the whole branch, the whole tree, opening our panoramic vision to take in the depths of natural vision.
When we practice this consciously we can see the dance of all living things, the depth of objects, the interplay of all things, the vastness. Think of the light filtering through the trees as you walk along a trail, KOMOREBI is the Japanese word for this. a beautiful interplay of elements that create feelings of relaxation and happiness.
Conversely, think of the perceptual flatness of screens, phones, televisions. These devices stunt our vision and with a locked focus for periods of time, they wrap a metaphorical blindfold over our eyes
When we utilise the muscles in our eyes to scan our environment, we are activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Think of our cave man ancestor who is approached by a saber tooth tiger. Are we going to be focussed on a berry, the deep richness of colour we are about to eat or are we going to scan the landscape for our escape? This survival mechanism, an activation of the muscles in our eyes is linked to the nervous system.
The nervous system is intrinsically tied to the functions of our senses; Sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing and sensation/feeling. When we bring our awareness to the different colours, shapes, and depth of our natural landscape we are inviting an experience of depth, expansiveness and freedom.
Fractals are patterns that repeat themselves over and over again and look the same on any scale. Fractals can be found in the waves of the ocean, lightning strikes, flowers or the bracts of a pine cone. They are everywhere in nature and scientifically proven to relax us, regardless of the complexity.
Research from the University of Oregon found that humans are hard wired to respond to fractals found in nature- and looking at these natural occurring patterns can reduce our stress by up to 60%
Our sight is more than what we see. It is how we feel when we look around, using the full physiology of our sight to gain more than a projected image. It’s a sensation within, an innate knowing that we are home.
Our eyes aren’t designed to look at screens, nor cityscapes of tall grey buildings. Nature is restful, for most of human existence we have lived in Nature and relied up her for food. It is time we return to her as she holds the power to transform our negative emotions into positive. To improve our holistic health, importantly bringing us joy.