The “Eyes” Had It

Steven Barnes
7 min readOct 25, 2019

I honestly don’t know what the limits of the human mind-body connection might be. Or which of the phenomena I’ve experienced in that realm were “objective reality” and which were my brain creating “complex equivalents”: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic symbols that allowed me to interpret vast amounts of unconscious data at survival speeds.

I don’t know. To a degree, I don’t care, because the edge of “what can be perceive unconsciously?” would overlap with “what are we perceiving that really has no physical data at all?” If it keeps you alive, it doesn’t matter.

We all get “hunches”, but it is very difficult to determine which voices or images in our minds are giving us accurate information. Our brains tend to edit reality and memory, such that those who believe in “psychic powers” often forget the times that their impressions were inaccurate, and remember only the times things happened to reinforce their pre-existing beliefs.

And yet…

I remember a time I was walking down the street at about one in the morning with my then-girlfriend Toni. I’d been training HARD in Filipino Kali, and was experiencing some odd visual phenomena: a potentially antagonistic person wouldn’t look like a person to me. They’d look like a silhouette painted on a sheet of glass, with vulnerable areas marked in splotches of red. REALLY odd. That night, I’m walking and talking, and suddenly felt something TOUCH me between the eyes. Like a cartoon kiddy gun firing a suction cup with a line attached. I turned and looked, and saw a man lounging in a shadow, maybe fifty feet ahead of us. I kept attention on him, and he stepped out from the wall and started walking ahead of us on the dark street. Slowing down. A swift calculation suggested that if we continued at the same speed, we’d all meet up at a totally dark corner ahead. I didn’t like that notion, and indicated to Toni to slow down. She did. We did. He did. I slowed down more. He did as well. I stopped. He stopped…turned his head to glance at us…and then took off running around the corner.

Odd, right?

As I said, we all have moments like that. If they are real…who wouldn’t want more of them? Certainly martial arts masters insist that the high levels of the arts include enhanced intuition and instinct. Were they all wrong? Possibly. But…

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Fast forward about ten years. I’d followed a trail of meditation techniques from a man named Terry Letteau to his teacher…

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Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts. www.lifewritingpodcast.com.