Can We Do More Than We Think With Macular Degeneration?
“That sounds great but I can’t.” “I can’t do that now, but have fun.”
Every once in a while, ideas start to turn in my head and - like turning the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle - I start to see connections. I have minor epiphanies about “life”....now isn’t that a scary thought?
Not letting vision loss hold you back
On Sunday, one of my yoginis started class with a quote. The quote was from John Wooden. The quote was: "Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you CAN do."
Then I was researching the Zen concept of beginner’s mind for a mindfulness class. Beginner’s mind is full of curiosity. It has no knowledge or preconceptions about things. In beginner's mind, everything is new and full of possibilities.
Reality of vision loss or not?
Click! Kaching! The penny dropped. What would we be able to do if we did not “know” we were not able to do something? What would we be able to do if we did not have an idea of what it is to be “blind?”
I started to mull that over a bit. It made me wonder how much of it is the loss of vision keeping us back. How much of it is our belief system of what someone with vision loss is able to do?
A different perspective
Then I added in another bit of information. We are working with a new case manager from Blindness and Visual Services. He’s blind. Not just the kinder, gentler legally blind. I am talking BLIND. What is his belief system about blindness? Does he think in terms of limitations or capabilities? I don’t even know the man but I think I know the answer.
So there I was with my minor epiphany. Now, what was I going to do with this little gem? Make it into a page for Health Union, of course. That was a no brainer, but how was I going to make sure I was not allowing what I cannot do to keep me from what I can do?
Finding beginner's mind
First of all, it seemed as if I needed to find a beginner's mind. The Chopra Center has an article that lists “8 Tips for Cultivating Beginner's Mind.”
To paraphrase, they suggest we suspend judgments as much as we can. Allow there may be another answer to the question. Instead of a quick “no,” the answer might be maybe or even yes.
Getting back to the foundation
I might add it is important to accept we may no longer be great at something. We might not even be good! Which brings me to their second point. Allowing ourselves to slow down and actually experience the activity is a benefit in and of itself. Not only does it help us quiet the mind by focusing, but it also gets us back to thinking about - in their words - the foundations of things.
Not understanding can be a good thing?
Many of us envy how children approach life. The Chopra Center suggests we emulate them. Approach life with wonder and a sense of adventure. Damn the torpedos and let ‘s go!
A tough one for me would be to practice a “don’t know” mindset. They suggest you pick something you don’t understand and practice being at peace with not understanding. Another one that might be tough is not to invent reasons for why something is happening. We assign reasons and motives when we have no idea what is really happening.
Don't be afraid to try
There are others in the article - after all, they said 8! But, I think you get the point. Coming to life with the attitude that you don’t know until you try is a valuable way to approach things. Having no preconceived ideas of what you are capable or alternately incapable of doing allows you to get out there and try without reservation.
Do not let what you can not do interfere with what you can do. Being visually impaired may not be as impairing as you first thought.
Does macular degeneration affect your mental health?