Near Focus, Far Focus

Apr 25, 2023

I have been thinking a lot about "near focus" and "far focus" lately. Near focus is both literal, such as being on the computer, looking at your phone, reading etc, but also figurative: focusing on the details of daily life, the tasks you need to get done today, tomorrow, this week.

Far focus is looking up and out, literally and figuratively. We know that we need to shift our eye gaze from the screen to across the room or outside the window to prevent eye strain. But we also need to take our attention away from the daily details, and spend some time looking at the big picture of our lives. This is where our dreams, our goals, our visions lie.

For over 20 years, I have studied and taught Wild Goose Qigong. In this practice, we consciously shift our eye gaze from a near point - often the palm of our hand - to a far point - usually the horizon - over 50 times during the 10 minute form.

I used to think this was mostly about preventing eye strain and promoting good eye health. Which it is. But over time, I have come to see the symbolism of this practice, of moving fluidly and easily between the close up details and the big picture.

Some people are innately more comfortable with details and to-do lists, but get nervous thinking about Big Picture issues. Others love envisioning what is possible, but glaze over at the details.

It is only fairly recently that I have come to really understand and appreciate the power of training yourself to move back and forth between these two necessary and very different states of being. And even more importantly, to be able to do so fluidly and seamlessly.

Near and Far Focus is behind the creation of every inspiring novel, painting, and piece of music. And behind every great community organization or business. It is also what allows you to manage the very challenging project of being an adult.

How to train yourself to move fluidly between these two states of being? If you are the daydreamer, most comfortable imagining alternate realities and what could be: balance this amazing skill with conscious moments of focusing on the details of the present. Take 5 minutes three times a day to look all around you, wherever you are, and see the details - the color of the walls, the texture of the floor, the objects of daily living all around you. Take in as many details as you can.

On the other hand, if you love your to-do list, and thrive on organizing the details of work/life, spend 5 minutes three times a day looking out a window at the sky, or close your eyes and imagine a view of the sky. As your thoughts come back to daily details, gently refocus your attention on the color of the sky and its expansiveness.

You may wonder how such a simple practice could improve your life. Never underestimate the Power of Simplicity. Yes, life is complicated and multi-layered, but the path to less suffering and great inspiration is often simple. Not necessarily simple to follow, but in concept.

Balance The Big Picture and The Details,
Kirstin Lindquist
Licensed Acupuncturist, Owner

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