How to Avoid Going Blind

1378 Relax and Succeed - How to Avoid Going Blind

Please accept my apologies for being unable to notify you about my medical emergency and its impact on my posting. As the word ’emergency’ indicates, I got very little warning. As things were bad, they moved very quickly and I’m still under daily care.

Thanks to a dear friend, I am able to dictate this post to ensure you get it. My reason for posting while still undergoing care is because it’s not impossible that learning this could save you or a loved one your sight. I’m no ophthalmologist, so I can’t tell you all the ways you could go blind. But I can tell you about one.

Let me begin by saying that there is an extremely tiny chance that your situation would be anywhere near as serious as mine. Good doctors and modern medicine mean this isn’t something you have to be afraid of, just aware of. My case is rare, difficult, and extremely painful. Most people, if they react quickly, rather than facing blindness, have quick and relatively pain-free recoveries.

What I’m describing is a retinal detachment.

You can think of your retina as the pages of an open book, shaped into a curve and lining the inside surface of your eyeball. It serves many functions, and includes layers where your cones and rods are located (it’s all very fascinating).

Even in a normal case of a detached retina, it is important that you do not delay in going to an emergency ophthalmologist as soon as you notice your symptoms. Do not wait. Go now.

Potential symptoms include: sparkles in your vision; black flecks in your vision that block out the background completely (not to be mistaken for the floaters that all of us normally have); flashes of light in one or both eyes; blurred vision; gradually reduced peripheral (side) vision; a curtain or veil-like shadow over your visual field; a heavy feeling in your eye; straight lines that start to look curved; or, as I had, a disc or section of your vision completely blocked out. Pure black.

In a normal detached retina, a tiny hole will occur on the top page of the retina that receives light. The fluid of the eye will then get through this hole and create a blister. At this stage, this is where you are likely to experience your first symptoms. If you react quickly and head to emergency, ask to see an ophthalmologist. Trust me, they will get you in as quickly as they can.

If you’ve caught it quickly, the ophthalmologist will arrange for a painless laser operation to weld the hole closed. You may have blurry vision for a few months, but then you’ll be fine. Yay, modern medicine!

But if you wait, the fluid in the blister will slosh from side to side and turn that tiny hole into a tear—and you will also place several pages of your retina at risk. Obviously, spot welding a little hole in a single layer is much easier than welding an entire jagged canyon through many, or all, the layers.

1378 Relax and Succeed - Eyeball diagram

These are the things you need to know to protect yourself and your family. This can happen to anyone at any age, although people playing sports or who experience impacts to the head are at even greater risk. Let me reiterate: if you act quickly, this is not something to be afraid of. If anything, you’ll feel like you’re in an episode of Star Trek. But delay, and you risk your sight.

The one thing you don’t want to be in a doctor’s office is ‘interesting’. This means you’ll be beneficial to teaching residents about rare cases. But rarely are those rare cases easy. I have some great stories to share with you about my fantastic doctors, as well as fear, pain, and mood management, as soon as I’m well enough to get back to writing—which I hope is very soon.

In the meantime, if any of you have been thinking about booking time—particularly telephone time—now would be a great time to schedule it, as it will be somewhat problematic for me to meet people in person for a while.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you exactly when I’ll be restarting, but I can assure you that time away from you has even further invigorated my spirit about my work. Despite the fact that I was worse off than many of the other patients that I met, their choices led them to have much more challenging interior experiences than mine.

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and dedication to my work. I very much look forward to reconnecting with you all very soon.

peace. s

Someone To Watch Over You

1356 Relax and Succeed - Someone to watch over you

Whenever I meditate on the things I do with my mind I always have to then find some (to me) funny way to illustrate for you, what it is that my brain is functionally doing. The reasons as to why this thought experiment will work are very interesting, but too complex to explain in this blog. Fortunately, it’s more important to be able to do it than understand it consciously, so that’s fine.

As weird as it might feel, once you read more and understand why, consider very seriously spending the day by imagining that you’re on a reality TV show for 24 hours non stop. Weirdly, that will fairly closely approximate what I’m doing with my mind.

Let’s imagine it’s a show like Ellen or something Oprah would do. Something hosted by some famous, positive woman with one name –you choose. And imagine they have a new segment called Best Friends where people’s best friends go on the show and describe what they love about us.

Maybe we’ve heard all of this before because they’ve been kind enough to tell us those things before this show. But it’s a different thing for us to know that after our friend described us to the world, that the show is now headed over to set up cameras all over our house to capture us being the person our friends described.

Suddenly, just knowing what people are watching us for makes us more aware of everything we do. It’ll feel like insecurity at first, but that’s an ego experience. Really we’re just being self-conscious in a healthy way. That feeling is presence.

Examples of how our inherent goodness will come to the fore will be all over our lives. For instance, say that as we go through doors that we don’t really notice that we always check behind us for people with packages or crutches, or for the elderly or anyone else that can benefit from the door being held for them.

1356 Relax and Succeed - Nurture Presence

It’s a nice thing to do, but the problem will be that if we do it all the time it can become subconscious and rote. Then suddenly we miss out on what’s in it for us: the connection. But if we imagine cameras following every move, we suddenly become present, which helps us slow down to deal with everything through a very conscious and rewarding connection in that individual moment.

If we’re earnest, as the day goes on we’re likely to find many more subtle forms of relationships where we have become almost automatic and entirely unaware. Many people ask how the relative in the hospital is without asking how the nurse also is.

Nice people get on the same elevators with the same people every day and never even greet each other. That’s strangely insecure behaviour for a pack animal. We’re stealing nice moments from ourselves. But to fix that we have to get conscious.

As an indication of how unfamiliar most people are with being conscious; when I trick people into doing it, it always feels weird at first. Egos hold doors to look good to others. Souls hold doors because they love unconditionally. At first it feels strange and foreign to make connections with almost everyone. Later it feels like an oasis.

So that’s our spiritual practice for today. Let’s all take a moment to think about what our best friend would really say. Maybe even ask them. And then think about all of those cameras in every room of the house, and the mic recording everything you say for the entire day. And then remember that you’re on this show because your best friend described the very best –and very real– parts of you.

Done well, this one-day thought experiment (which you are expected to waver in and out of as you practice), can really help us get a better sense of what being conscious of ourselves in the present moment really is. We can hold a door open out of habit, or we can hold it because we recognize the human being we’re caring about by doing it. One’s good for one of us. The other is good for all of us.

Oh, and when you’re done, go to bed knowing that the cameras you imagined are the real you, but if we hadn’t turned them on, you would have behaved based on the patterns in your ego. That’s why our problems repeat so often, so don’t live unconsciously when living consciously is such a reward for you and for the rest of us.

peace. s

Witness the Present

1097-relax-and-succeed-itis-our-spirit-that-seesYour eyes have so many things they could focus on that it’s actually funny that we think we see at all. I could put a video camera on your head and film every direction your eyes looked, then I could look at the video and discuss literally thousands of things that you couldn’t–because you never saw them. And remember, this is things you looked right at. So maybe you shouldn’t get so angry at referees….

Why can I see so much more than you? Because you have selective senses. You tend to tune down your sense of taste, smell or touch, but while your eyes are fully on, unlike the camera, your mind filters all you see into what you see.

Imagine a large gathering of people. You’re meeting a friend there and they are somewhere random, inside that big group. You would walk up and start looking for their jacket, or maybe their hair. So every person before you suddenly just becomes their hair or their jacket.

1097-relax-and-succeed-give-your-attention-to-the-experienceUnlike me looking at the video later, you can’t tell me what every single person’s eyeglasses looked like or even if they had any. Nor can you tell me if they had a date. Or how old they roughly are. That’s because you were busy looking for hair or a particular jacket. You weren’t seeing; you were looking.

Later, with the ability to freeze time, I can become like a unidirectional God who can see everything–but only from the extremely limited perspective of one point of among billions in the spherical 360 degrees that surround the subject.

My having to freeze time to see all that means that while I was using my now to look at that part of the past, you’d be seeing something happening in the actual present. So you can have now or you can have more, but you can’t have both. Your mind very necessarily needs to filter most of those details so that you can even be a person. The opposite is something like Autism, where filtering is a challenge.

1097-relax-and-succeed-the-present-moment-is-the-only-momentWhat do you see? Amazingly, if you’re in a thinking state of ego you’ll see what your mind is talking about, not what’s there. Remember, you have billions of choices and yet if you’re grumpy all you’ll notice is more things you don’t like. Likewise with things you do like. Your mind sees, not your eyes. Keep your mind clean. Keep it quiet. Let it be present.

In an enlightened state, you can still only have an essentially human perspective. But without the filters of thought you move through the world not through expectation, but rather through noticing. Things occur to you. This is seeing with wisdom. In that state of mind you notice very valuable and pertinent things. Half the time you won’t even know why, but if there were no mysteries for you still to solve what would be the point of living?

In today’s meditation your job is to see, rather than look. Rather than talking to your classmate or coworker or family member as those labels, see them in the present moment. Notice something about them that you have never ever noticed before. If you’re into fashion don’t choose fashion, and likewise for anything else; no optometrists looking at glasses or dentists looking at teeth etc,.

1097-relax-and-succeed-realize-deeply-that-the-presentNotice they have no earlobes, or that their haircut is like another friend’s, or that their eyes are two different colours, or that they’re standing with their weight all on one leg. If you’re in a room, look at the logos for each company carefully for the trademark symbol. See what the pattern is on the actual stitching for the carpet. Take a look at every single icon on your computer desktop.

You’ll likely be terrible at this. You’ll nail it a few times and then forget to truly be present for long chunks of time, and then you’ll realise it and shift back–but that’s okay. During the day, if you’re earnest, you should get better and better. End the day by going into your own bathroom and stare at yourself in the mirror and literally don’t look away until you see something that surprises you. That might take 20 minutes. You’re worth it.

Your mind filters your world. The definition of you is created by the persectives created by those filters. You can’t get past the filters and have a human experience, but you can remember that they’re not reality. And that’s what creates the peace within you. Because you can’t know if anything’s truly good or bad if you’re the only person filtering that particular sliver of reality. Everyone else’s slivers count too. So you can relax your judgments and just be. And that’s perfect, because that state is called peace of mind. Congratulations.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.