If there was a way of relaxing quickly and easily in any situation would you want to know what it is?
Ancient cultures knew this secret, and followers of Hawaiian Huna used it to access altered states. In more recent times martial artists used it as a way to develop relaxed alertness, and today photo readers use it to relax before reading books at speeds of 25,000 words per minute.
What is the secret? It has to do with how you use your eyes!
Pick a spot on the wall straight ahead and a little above eye level. Now continue to look at that spot with soft focus and after a few moments you will notice that the room seems to become fuzzy as you develop tunnel vision. This tunnel vision goes hand in hand with the worry, stress and anxiety you feel when you get fixated on getting what you want when you are under pressure.
If only you could snap out of that tunnel vision when it clouds your judgment then you could be more relaxed when you choose to be. You can in a moment if you know how to access your peripheral vision.
How to access your peripheral vision:
1. Pick a spot on the wall in front of you, slightly above eye level.
2. Extend your field of vision, little by little, to take in more of what you can see to the left and right. Continue like this until you are aware of what you can see out of the corner of your eyes on either side.
3. Let your awareness go even further. Use your sense of space to guide you all the way around behind you through 360 degrees.
When you stay in peripheral vision for a few minutes, you will notice that your breathing tends to slow down and even become deeper; the muscles of your face may have relaxed; and even the rest of your body may feel heavier and more relaxed.
When you use your peripheral vision your nervous system seems to automatically calm your body, mind and emotions.
4. Return to normal everyday awareness by letting your vision return to normal.
When you are speaking to a group or even to a large audience, accessing your peripheral vision is a valuable skill. It will let you relax immediately while also allowing you to see your entire audience and any small movements, consequently you can be more aware of reactions to your message.
Which do you prefer, tunnel vision with stress or peripheral vision with relaxation? The choice is yours. To have a choice when it matters you need to practice accessing your peripheral vision at will. Then the next time you feel anxious, scared or tense in front of other people you will be able to quickly and easily access your natural state of relaxation.
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert.
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