Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Another "Magic Eye" Moment

Several years ago, I posted a post I called Magic Eye.  Reading through it again a little bit ago, I realized that I didn't quite explain the "Magic Eye" moment as well as I would have liked.  The reason I even thought about that post was because I recently had another "Magic Eye" moment.  I will try to explain what I mean, but first let me point out that it is in no way something exclusive to runners.

I have heard of artists experiencing it while they were painting (experienced it myself).  Musicians often describe a similar moment when, in the middle of a song, they experience a heightened sense of awareness...or even a new, sort of, "sixth sense" that they can't explain.  I have heard golfers try to explain such moments in a perfect golf game.  More commonly, you hear this sort of thing in martial arts and those who practice meditation. 

I'm sure there is a perfectly good scientific explanation, but that is not the point of this post.  Whatever the cause, it is what keeps distance runners running, artists painting, and musicians making music.  It is what makes even non-religious people describe "spiritual moments."  Now, as a Christian runner, I disagree with those who have made nature and trail running their god.  My "Magic Eye" moments humble me and point me to the God of the Bible while others are tempted to worship the creature rather than the Creator.

So, "What is a "Magic Eye" moment?" you ask. Well, again, I am not going to get into the science behind it, but "Magic Eye" refers to Autostereograms.  You have probably seen them, but perhaps were never able to make them work.  You are supposed to stare at the image for a while (some people cross their eyes, try to "look past" the image, or even move the image forwards and backwards to their eyes).  Eventually, you are supposed to see a 3D image pop out from the image.  You usually can't keep seeing the image for long before it goes back to just random spots and patterns, but once it has worked for you, it gets easier to make it work again.

I have found that there are moments in life where you can focus on one thing so much that everything else fades away and the thing you are focusing on seems to "pop out" in 3D, just like "Magic Eye" images.  When running, I find that it usually takes several miles.  Your body gets used to a rhythm and you start to forget about your breathing, and your heart rate, and any discomfort you may be feeling, and you simply start to enjoy your surroundings.  It never lasts long, and soon you are back to thinking about your breathing, and your heart rate, and your discomfort again.  But that brief moment leaves you wanting more.  I believe that, just like "Magic Eye," you can get better at "seeing it" the more experience you have.  Again, I think this is why many religions practice meditation (you may be surprised to see how often the Bible speaks of it).

My recent "Magic Eye" moment was about eight miles into my run.  I had stopped thinking so much about my run and started thinking about the goodness of God.  I began to see His creation around me a little differently.  And out of nowhere, it seems, my spirit was seeing in 3D.  It was definitely the highlight of my run, and it brought me to a moment of praising God.  I literally was shocked when I came out of the moment and noticed I was running with my arms spread out and my eyes shut.  I had been watching a bird fly above me, and I guess I was imitating him.  I got goose bumps, realizing that I was praising God and all my thoughts were directed toward Him instead of myself.  It was like an out-of-body experience.  It was a "Magic Eye" moment.

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