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Posts Tagged ‘Soft Eyes’

Soft eyes. Hypermiling Skill of the Week

Posted by IT Pilgrim on June 24, 2008

See the Forest for the Trees
Here’s a quick hypermiling skill for your Tuesday morning, it’s a method I like to call soft eyes, a technique often taught in some sports and martial arts. This will allow you to see the forest among the trees. I have noticed recently, that most people, when they drive, focus intently on the car in front of them, occasionally glancing to the side, but mainly focus on those taillights in front of them. This is really tunnel-vision, and limits your options as well as contributes to tension headaches. Instead, try to use soft-eyes, meaning don’t focus on anything unless necessary to achieve a blend of details and peripheral vision that allows you to see the big picture around you.

At first blush, that seems a little scary, and it takes some time to get used to it, but its not about not paying attention, its about not intently focusing on one particular thing. Instead, relax your eyes and face and let your eyes scan around you. If you are trying to hypermile, at all, you really need to be looking at least a half mile in front of you anyway so you can try to anticipate traffic. You need to be seeing the cars on both sides of you and a little behind you as well. The goal is to stay calmly aware of as much of your surroundings as possible, mainly taking note of motion, or red lights.

How to get there:
First spend a few days practicing using your peripheral vision, I highly recommend you do this somewhere other than traffic if you have not done it before. Without focusing on anything in particular, look straight ahead and as you do this pay attention to what you notice simultaneously off to both sides . Try not to look first to one side and then to the other , at least not at this stage. The goal is to not focus on one single thing. Instead you are trying to look straight ahead, without moving your eyes from side to side, while noticing what is off to both sides of you.

Focused, or Foveal Vision
In general, very few of us actually need to practice this, but its helpful to do just to get an idea of the difference. Spend a few minutes every few hours, pick one particular thing and focus on it exclusively. One warning though, I also would not try this in traffic, or for too long as it’s a quick way to give yourself a headache or miss some joker cutting you off and slamming on their brakes.

The End Result
After practicing peripheral vision and focused vision for a few days, it’s fairly easy to graduate to using soft eyes since this is merely a blend of both skills. Remember, the goal is to try to notice everything occurring around you without focusing on it. This will take practice, and again, I suggest trying it somewhere else first, such as walking down the hall at work.

Soft eyes is a useful skill, not just for driving but for everyday life. Most people find it much easier to talk to you and you will find that people will not avoid your eyes as much as if you look too sharply focused. The trick however, is that you must learn to notice when someone else has made the first attempt at eye contact. Try it in the hall at work, or across the table at meetings, however, since it makes it difficult to see what you are looking at, some people will think you are not paying attention and have spaced out so be prepared to show that you are paying attention. Give it a week and let me know how it goes.

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