Open-Spectrum Focus (OSeF): An Exploration in Seeing
Jerusalem – Where do your eyes focus in this picture?
In a quest to improve my vision, I thought, “If this holy city can’t fix vision, what can?” So, I decided to spend time looking out at the wonderful view of Jerusalem that is near my home. I wanted to see what the city and its unique light would show me. And I found, and continue to find, that Jerusalem does have its own insights which it makes available through the eyes.
I looked to the insights of our rabbis from past and present generations. What I found was that my previous way of seeing was chauvinistic. It’s now clear to me that there are many ways that can be called “seeing”. These ways facilitate access to the subconscious and bring increased insights, solutions, ideas, creative vision, intuition, and what-not which can affect our journeys and our lives in general.
It’s possible to write books about this, but we need some things right now. We need, right about now, to use our eyes to see deeper, wider, further, and better. We need some of these ways of seeing, with eyes-on research.
We can start with one simple exploration in open-spectrum focus. One understanding that helps this along is that the eyes and the brain are basically one organism. What comes in through the eyes is immediately brought into the brain, where it is processed. Simple enough.
What this boils down to is that narrow viewing brings to narrow perceptive processing, narrow understanding, and incomplete understanding. Studies are showing what our increasingly narrow physical focus, i.e. many hours peering into computers and phones, is doing to our brains and perceptive abilities, and it’s not a pretty picture.
Thus, the open-spectrum focus exercise. It’s very simple. Just look at something that is straight ahead of you. It can be close or very distant. If you will stretch your hands, just this one time, behind your back where you can’t see them, and slowly bring them forward, eye-level, without moving your eyes from that central focal point, you will soon see your hands appearing on the scene, probably a few inches from your shoulders.
This means that the distance from the center point in front of you, going to your right and left to the visible points near your shoulders, is visible to you without having to move your eyes. It’s accessible to you. You’ve just widened your vision and your mind!
Even if you’re not aware of it now, it’s likely that some increased insight in some area of your life will, perhaps soon, manifest. It may have been helped along by this exploration. If you do it several times and see a number of fresh insights, you can draw your own conclusions.
And it’s something you can do all throughout the day, wherever you are. It can be a picture, the scene in front of you (whether it’s “scenic” or not), a word in print, a child…All the time, your perceptive abilities are being expanded.
Just as there are many wonderful things on the periphery of our vision that we don’t quite see, there are wonderful thoughts and insights on the periphery of our minds that we don’t quite realize. In this exercise, going from outside to inside, we find that widening our peripheral vision releases some of these insights from the periphery of our awareness. Then we begin to develop better communication with our subconscious mind.
The exercise is simply to pick a forward center point. But instead of intensely focusing on it, which it probably draws you to do, you become aware of all that space around and above you and the point in front of you, without moving your eyes at all. All that is a part of your vision, as much as that central focal point. You haven’t left that point but you’ve widened and softened your focus on it, surprisingly picking up more details than you usually do along the way. It also relaxes the eyes.
Concerning the picture above: Most likely, your eyes will fall on the center of the stairs or the archway. If you stop for a second and look also at everything around that point, without moving your eyes, you will find that you still see the center, but there are many other things to be seen in the picture that you didn’t notice when you were focusing on one point. Then you can widen your vision from the picture to the rest of the computer screen, and further out into the room. If there is a window where you are, widen your vision there also, all the while not moving your eyes and remaining aware of the central focus point.
The principle, shortly stated, is When you widen your eyes, you widen your mind, with many manifest results. Obviously, a lot more can be said on this subject, and many Jewish perspectives and insights come with the territory. The essential point, it seems, is that we need more clarity in these times of unforeseen challenges in order to see solutions that are not yet visible. The more we use our eyes in different ways, the better our chance of coming upon solutions that are just beyond our reach right now.
© 2020 Yaakov Branfman
Note: In his sefer, “B’Tov Yerushalyim,” Rabbi Aryeh Samet has several chapters of sources on vision collected from the Torah. He cites over ten different terms to describe types of vision other than the vision of the body, (riat ha guf) that we are accustomed to. For instance, he brings and describes such terms as “riat ha lev, riat ha sechel, riah daka (subtle vision), riat ha neshoma, riah nefashot and ria ruchanit, riah pnimi (inner vision), and more.
Yaakov Branfman’s blog, Jerusalem in Sight, is found at: