The Eyes Have It
There has been much written about eye contact and that maintaining it can need extra brain power. Also averting one's gaze can help one think. However, an interesting finding is that our eyes are in constant motion - microsaccades. The reason for this is that if our brains are presented with a static image then they no longer 'see' it and will not process what is in front of us. Therefore, even when we are staring at a fixed point - our eyes are constantly moving creating that sense of a changing landscape. This is in addition to the voluntary movements we make when we are reading, looking at pictures, TV or talking to someone.
This made me reflect on how much our bodies are attuned to monitoring change and adjusting and adapting to it e.g. maintaining homeostatic balance. Or in this case - our sight maintaining perpetual change.
Change, however, can be challenging and many of us have probably experienced change in our working lives. Also, 2016 has been a year of much change across the world. There have been elections that have produced unexpected results in both the UK and the USA, ending of a civil war in Columbia and ongoing conflict in the Middle East to cite but some events. So, how do we deal with change?
Mostly, it seems that many of us don't like change but is that really the case? We probably all make changes in our lives that we control. It is change that appears out of our control that feels uncomfortable. Can we influence how we manage this? It's not to say that the changes that happen to us are OK - sometimes work changes are not. Mostly though, we are not affected by changes that impact on our basic needs such as food and shelter. So, even if the change is something we don't want - how can we manage it - perhaps self-reflection and noticing how we are affected can be a start. This is something that as psychological professionals we are equipped to do with other people so could do for ourselves.
Sometimes, lack of change can be a problem and some of us may be taking time off over Christmas to spend with families and friends. These events may have long-standing traditions and patterns of behaviour associated with them which haven't changed in many years. For some of us, this can feel comfortable and reassuring but for others this can feel excruciating. Again, recognising that lack of change and reflecting on how we are affected can help us.
Mindfulness is an approach that encourages us to be self-aware and notice but the intensity of this approach isn't for all and can trigger distress in some. However, noticing ourselves and our situations can start with our physical senses. Our eyes have been described as the windows to our soul and their constant motion perhaps reflects the resilience and adaptability of us as human beings to our world. Perhaps the festive season this year could also include noticing ourselves and turning that awareness towards what can help make a happy, calm, exciting, restful, invigorating (take your pick) festive break.