by Sara Denning Abbott
As you walk you use your focus to establish different perspectives from the pebble at your feet to the car down the road. You can use this same ability to explore emotional perspectives.
We talk in metaphors of perspective with statements like “need a new outlook”, “find a “vantage point “ or “take a step back” etc. Your level of focus is not just a visual ability but also a gauge for your perspective of the world. Walking with three focus areas provides a wide range of views. An internal focus is more self involved and an external focus allows for more participation in the larger world of physical action.
Physiologically, some people are nearsighted and can see clearly only what is in front of them while others are farsighted and can see the surroundings at a distance. This same kind of limitation can occur psychologically. When you explore all three focus areas you create options as your mind works with all three perceptions; self, other, and environment.
An Inner Focus is based on your sense of self, both physical and mental. Walking with an inward focus brings you into your internal world of thoughts and feelings. It is easy to get so involved with an inner focus that you ignore the world outside this area. This is the first focus level for examining personal issues. The internal focus will allow you to go deep within yourself while moving in the world.
A Middle Ground focus area begins at two feet ahead to around four feet. This area is slightly different for each individual. So adjust as you go. Middle ground is where your internal experience and external environment combine. In this focus area different kinds of participant are available for exploration. Thoughts and feelings are brought into a place where they can be coordinated with the external world of other people and places. This promotes creativity and expands possibilities. Communication and small actions can be planned and carried out. The middle ground also provides a transition area for shifting from self to include others or to an even larger view.
An Expanded View is available at approximately four to ten feet ahead. As you walk and take a larger view of the world you can feel very big as you merge into that large view or very small in contrast. The social self, who we are in the world, is created as we develop this concept in a larger space. As we get older the space gets larger, from family to school, to community identity. The expanded view includes your present and future possibilities. This is an area that can be used for acting out your goals.
Shifting Gears and Changing Focus
We all have experienced being kept out of our natural rhythm. When we react to events by being depressed or excited we are experiencing a shift due to an other source. The three paces are developed to emphasize the natural coordination you have when you consciously shift from one pace to the next as needed. The ability to consciously shift from one focus and pace to another can be a wonderful way to integrate your feelings, thoughts and actions within your environment – not spend your life reacting to the outside world.
Your Own Pace By experiencing different psychological perspectives a whole range of thoughts, feelings and action can be explored. After the focus exercises, you can add dimension of rhythm. Pacing is simple to create as you add the slow pace to the inner focus, a moderate pace to middle ground and a fast pace to the larger view. Give this exercise a try next time you are out on a walk. Choices of action are the natural next step of your exploration. After walking slowly with a problem and shifting focus areas you might decide to call that good looking guy or girl you met last week. Or start that home business you always dreamed of. Once the perspectives are seen and the right rhythm is discovered, you are ready to consider action!
Inner Focus – Slow Pace – Thoughts and feelings are reviewed.
Middle Ground Focus – Moderate Pace – Integration with people and places planning and creativity are done.
Larger View – Fast Pace – Choices for action are considered and carried through.
Sara Denning Abbott is a clinical psychologist in private practice in New York City.