What does it feel like to be blind? On a quest to understand blind people and to explore my sensations, I decided to go blind for a day.
This February I took part in a two week long meditation retreat, and one of the days I decided to see what it feels like to be blind. For this, a friend of mine found a stick, and I cut a piece of black fabric to tie around my eyes, to make sure I do not see anything even when I open my eyes. And I went to bed on February 16th, planning to wake up “blind” the next day.
The day started unexpectedly early. Even though we normally wake up at 5 AM at the retreat, on my blind day I woke up even earlier. Since I could not check my watch, I was not sure what time it was, but my neighbour’s alarm went off, and I decided to get up. The toilet was way too far from my room, so I did not even consider brushing my teeth.
I got dressed (the clothes were prepared and laid out on the floor since last night), ties my black fabric around my eyes, took the stick, and set out on search of the dining hall and meditation room. My friend was supposed to come meet me in the morning, but she was sleeping longer than me, and so I decided to be independent.
There are pathways and stairs made of concrete in between the little houses we lived in, and I was so shocked to find out there were so many stairs! I never noticed them before! So I was walking up the stairs when I heard Gaby’s voice: “Katie, you are going to another village, it is wrong direction.” She kindly picked me up and guided me all the way out of the monstrous labyrinth all the way to the dining hall. After this she left me alone, and I took two more steps up, hitting my toe one more time, and managed to refill my water bottle, with half cold, half warm water.
The was from dining hall to meditation room was the scariest of the day. It takes about 2 minutes to get there when you can see, but I kept bumping into bushes and getting lost all the time. Never had I been so lost! I was considering to quit the challenge 20 minutes after it started. But the beginning was the most difficult part.
Eating was a challenge, as the food kept falling out of my mouth. And I absolutely needed help of my friends to get the food for me, and they also kindly cleaned the dishes, so I feel like i was cheating in this part. I did managed to walk all the way across the dining hall and make myself a tea without getting burnt.
Walking to the shower was the toughest, but again, I had my lovely friends to take me there. Taking a shower without seeing is a bliss, you start noticing so many smells and sensations. Hot water blissfully recharges your body and you feel at ease, as you cannot get lost inside a tiny shower cubicle.
I try to practice ashtanga yoga every morning, and I the “blind day” was not an exception. Practicing yoga without using my eyes helped me feel the asanas better, and I was quite concentrated. I finished the practice earlier as I was not distracted.
Later that day when we had 3 hours of free time, I chose to simply sit in a nice place near the nature to relax and not to be a nuisance to anyone. At that time I managed to practise my massage skills on Salwa, my sweet Jordanian victim. She told me she enjoyed the massage, but I was not sure, as I could not see her facial expression.
It was difficult to be a part of the team, but not play ball with my friends. It was difficult to run after my friend when I was running into nothingness. It is not easy to trust.
Going to sleep that night, I was excited about waking up soon, to see the world in all its beauty. I am so so blessed to have eyes and to be able to see!
- One starts noticing many more things when going blind, especially stairs and bumps on the road. One becomes more mindful
- It is so difficult to be independent when you just began being blind, and it opens up your abilities of asking for help
- it is not easy to trust people who guide you, even though you love these people
- when one loses eyesight, other senses activate and one starts distinguishing things by touch, and enjoying greatly the sounds of crickets and smell of fresh grass
- everything we take for granted is a beautiful gift, there are so many things in life to be grateful for.