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breakthroughs
09-01-2011, 12:16 PM
Post: #1
breakthroughs
I am new to this forum -- recovering from really bad myopia (-9 right eye, -7 left eye in February 20101. I now see 20/20 with -6 right eye, -4.5 left eye.) This opening post is partly a response to JWLBOYCE (whose vision has gotten worse since he started) along with a list of some observations I've made since starting vision improvement. I am sorry to hear that JWLBOYCE's eyesight has deteriorated, and unless there is some organic cause, it can only mean that he's been adding strain. (Not to pick on him. I'm just citing him as an example since I didn't make the rules for how eyesight works).

It's taken me a long time to get the hang of Bates, including lessons from a Bates teacher and hours and hours of experimentation and practice. (In fact, unless I attain "mostly perfect" sight, I probably still don't completely "get" Bates.) Most of my progress has been made following a number of discrete breakthroughs during which I realized I was using effort in a way that I had previously been unconscious of. Often a particular method would be mostly ineffective before I made this realization. After the realization, the practice would immediately improve my vision -- within a few seconds.
The key thing is practicing often enough to make the improvement permanent (and it does take tons of practice -- you must do it throughout the day for any of the improvement to "cement"). If something doesn't work within a few shifts, it means you're doing things wrong and no amount of time spent practicing will be of any
benefit. I undo a lot of my progress at night, because I somehow strain a lot in my sleep, so every day it's like 100 steps forward, 99 steps backward. Nevertheless, over time (especially in the last few months), progress is made.

When I have a chance, I plan to type up the very detailed notes I've been keeping so that I can share my experiences with people. In the meantime, just a few things to think about:

1. When shifting from one detail to the next, are you imagining the detail in your head, or are you somehow trying to force the detail to appear? The detail needs to pop into your mind, and when your attention moves, it must be a purely mental movement. You must not try to create details outside of your head on the object regarded, or try to physically move your eyes. Your attention moves, and your eyes naturally follow. PLACE THE POINT OF ATTENTION INSIDE YOUR HEAD.

Another tip (you may wish to skip this paragraph because I haven't found a way to explain it more clearly): shifting of the attention is often aided by imagining a small point inside my head superimposed on top of the objects regarded. When I imagine this point moving, the attention follows. The point seen best in the external world follows this moving point of attention. However, because my sight is imperfect, the point seen best in the physical world does not follow the imagined point perfectly. (In my case, it drags a little and generally does not shift as far as the imagined point). As my vision has improved, the point seen best in the physical world has begun moving more and more in tandem with the imagined point. I think that for people with perfect sight, the imaginary point exactly aligns with the point seen best in the physical world.




2. For the longest time I thought that in order to shift I had to "pick up my eyes" from point A and set them on point B. The new way of shifting felt "wrong" and initially I didn't think I was shifting at all, until I realized that I saw the oppositional movement and that this was the way normal people shift.

3. When you shift your attention to a target object, you will almost always miss -- especially if you are looking at distances where you don't see well. Persons with normal sight will do a quick corrective shift, whereas people with poor sight will try to "guide" their eyes to the target, which has the effect of expanding the area of attention
and reducing central fixation. An effortless shift is a quick movement that you don't guide and lands wherever it wants to. (Robert Lichtman of New York taught me this, and I highly recommend learning from him. He's a great teacher.)

Therefore, when shifting, the key thing is to not care if your attention falls on a spot other than the intended target. You have to not not care and then quickly do another corrective shift. This corrective shift will inevitably miss again, and you just have to keep on not caring and doing more corrective shifts.

For me (as a nearsight), shifting in the upward direction is
especially difficult. I encounter a wall of strain that prevents me from shifting upward effortlessly, and if I try to force it by "guiding" my eyes, it's worse than doing nothing. What I instead do is I think about shifting toward the target, then let my eyes go. They'll inevitably go in a direction other than straight up, but through a series of corrective shifts, I can zigzag my way to the target. This is accompanied by a huge increase in relaxation and improvement in vision.

3. What are you doing with your peripheral vision? Are you subconsciously blocking it? If you are not noticing oppositional movement on the periphery, it means you are straining.

At some point I realized that for me, sometimes the center moves in a different direction from the periphery, which is of course a strain. This was a shocking realization. If you notice this happening, you must make sure you are putting a little bit of awareness on
movement in the periphery and observing the movement there (without trying to force the periphery to move in any way -- the periphery moves on its own). Notice whether your whole field of vision is moving in the same direction, or whether you are trying to manipulate the central area of attention or other parts of your field of vision.

I suspect a lot of people mistakenly think they are "practicing central fixation" or shifting or whatever, when what they are really doing is pushing around their area of central attention while holding the periphery fixed or (worse yet) pushing it in a different direction.

4. It's a lot easier to notice oppositional movement in things you are not regarding directly (i.e., in the periphery). Keep this in mind whenever you are doing any sort of shifting or swinging. For example, I eventually realized that while walking down the street or driving, I was adding strain by "resisting" movement in the periphery, while falsely believing that I was shifting and doing Bates. After I had this realization, all of my walking (to and from work, etc.) became an opportunity to practice noticing objects moving in the periphery. I inevitably arrive at work with better sight than when I started.

5. Early on, I vastly underestimated the importance of practicing at distances where you ALMOST see well. If you have as bad eyesight as I do, there is so much strain when you are regarding distant objects that it's next to impossible to implement any of the techniques
effectively. And "too far"--at least for me--can mean as little as 6 inches beyond where I see clearly. In fact, even practicing shifting and noticing physical feelings in my eyes at distances where I see completely well improves my vision at the far point. This fact is very counterintuitive and took me a long time to realize.

6. With any technique, you must pay attention to physical sensations inside your eyes as well as elsewhere in your body (whether you're holding your breath or tensing anything else). By putting your attention on various strains and tensions (and not trying to resist them or do anything to counter them), they just away of their own accord. I can't quite explain how or why this happens, but it just happens and it seems almost like magic. I'm sure experts on the Alexander Technique might have something to add on this.

7. When you regard a stationary object (a computer screen, an eye chart, a conversation partner -- anything), do you imagine it and everything around you to be moving? If not, you are straining. This was also a breakthrough realization for me. Yet you can't force things to move -- they have to move on their own. An easy way to start is to notice an object in the periphery (which you aren't as likely to try to "grab on to") moving all on its own. Read the "Better Eyesight Magazine" article entitled "See Things Moving," as well as everything Bates wrote about the "optical swing," and the "universal swing" for a better description of what I'm talking about.

I'll be adding more details later. But to conclude for now -- I think David is doing a great job by providing this forum. I agree with his shifting-on-details approach but only want to caution people that the shifting has to be purely mental, as any attempt to try to manufacture details through force will inevitably fail. I have also found Bates's original description of shifting to be highly effective once I realized what I was doing wrong. Different things work for different people, but at the end of the day, there is only one way to use your eyes correctly and there are no shortcuts. Some people learn faster or slower than others, I'm sure, but no theorizing or wishful thinking gets us around the problem like practice does. And it does take a LOT of practice for me.
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09-01-2011, 01:10 PM
Post: #2
Re: breakthroughs
hey Sean, wow, great progress. And you've learned a lot pretty quickly. I like your list of points, it took me more than a year to learn all of that and I often feel like every time I practice I relearn it!

Quote:I have also found Bates's original description of shifting to be highly effective once I realized what I was doing wrong.

I had the same experience.

Do you practice palming? I didn't at first, but am more recently finding it very helpful. When I palm about 20 minutes before sleeping (and do a body scan, like your tip from point number 6 below) I get very relaxed and sleep very deeply. My vision is always better in the morning after this. Have you tried something like that to prevent straining while you sleep?

Welcome to the forum!
sorrisi

see my vision diary blog: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://sorrisi.wordpress.com">http://sorrisi.wordpress.com</a><!-- m -->

Start: 5/200
After 8 months: 20/50
now, 5/10, 10/20, still improving and loving it
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09-01-2011, 01:49 PM
Post: #3
Re: breakthroughs
Hi Sean and Welcome!

It's good to read something sensible for a change. Keep it coming. And set up a blog, will you please.

Did you do much one-eyed training?

-Why do my eyes hurt?
-You've never used them before.
-------------------------The Matrix

See my blog at http://michaelslog.wordpress.com
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09-01-2011, 02:02 PM
Post: #4
Re: breakthroughs
Hi Sorrisi,

Thanks for the welcome! Yes, I have tried palming, too, and was planning on writing about my experiences in a later post. Palming seems most effective when you make mental pictures while doing so. Robert Lichtman had me demonstrate how difficult it is to try to produce mental pictures unless you allow them to move or only flash them in your head for a brief instant. Besides Bates's key observation that you can only see one small part of the mental picture best, other things that I have found helpful to keep in mind are:
- Remembering to not care how well I see the mental picture. You just let it pop into your head for the briefest instant and then let it go.
- Similar to my previous post: noticing any muscular tensions that arise when I imagine the pictures and putting my attention on those tensions, but without resisting the strain.
- Resisting the temptation to try to imagine things that I have a hard time imagining, out of the mistaken belief that whatever is hardest to do is most beneficial. I obtain the greatest relaxation by remembering images from my childhood (before my vision became bad) and things that I recall seeing well recently (i.e., in my case, things that I've seen at the nearpoint). My favorite thing to imagine is the various features on a bison stuffed animal I gave my girlfriend, held close to my face. Letters from the eye chart imagined at a close distance also work, as does a black dot imagined either at a close distance or inside my head.
- I need to palm for several minutes for it to have a demonstrable benefit. It takes a few minutes for the darkness to set in and for the jangly nerves to settle down a little.
- I like the "full-body" scan idea you wrote about. I especially like focusing on breathing and various corners of my body where I can feel the breath flowing.

Sorrisi, I've been lurking on this forum for a while and have enjoyed reading your posts. It's good to learn through other people's experiences. In fact, I've held off on posting for a long time because I wanted my initial posts to be reflective of things I've learned that might actually be useful to people.

Cheers
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09-01-2011, 04:19 PM
Post: #5
Re: breakthroughs
Sean, glad you're here and thanks for that great initial post chock-full of useful information. Like Sorrisi said, many of the points you mentioned are things I did wrong at first before stumbling into a better way that gave me more improvement.

You may already know this, but Dr. Bates recommended doing several minutes of the Long Swing before bed to prevent staring while asleep. This is not a problem I usually have (my eyes are the most relaxed when I first wake up), but when I've tried it anyway (how could it hurt?), it seems to get the tension out of my neck and shoulders, so I sleep in a more relaxed way and get a better rest.

Welcome to the party!

Nancy
2012: 20/45 on average, no glasses except for night driving
2001: 2/200, -10 hard contacts with -1.75 cylinder
Vision & dreams website: http://dreamersight.com/
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09-01-2011, 04:57 PM
Post: #6
Re: breakthroughs
I'd like to echo the praises the others have already made. Unlike Sorrisi and Nancy, I haven't had too much improvement thusfar, but I think that I've been getting on the right track lately. I found the bit on shifting particularly helpful, as that is what I am focusing on at the moment. Funny, because I remember that at one time I tried the whole "shifting in my head" idea, but I gave up because I kept missing the point. Your other points are also very well thought-out and not surprisingly, are all things that I am doing incorrectly right now. I hope to fix that soon. Smile

To clarify the part about shifting the attention, is it necessary to imagine what you see? Sometimes it helps for me to imagine another image in my head (sort of like a "movie screen", if you know what I mean). Other times, I find it more easier to use the "original" image and just remind myself that what I'm seeing is happening in my head. And for the shifting of the attention, I just imagine a dot (sad to say, it doesn't have a defined color yet) and imagine that dot moving where I want to see. Is this more or less what you are talking about? If so, I suppose that you can refer to this "dot" as your attention, correct?
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09-01-2011, 05:52 PM
Post: #7
Re: breakthroughs
Welcome!

I agree about practicing at a distance where you can see okay. Contrary to what Bates suggested, I don't think people with myopia have very good vision patterns at the nearpoint. I remember my eyes would always get tired from reading. It's the same kind of situation as if you hunch over all day, abusing your back with bad posture and allowing the muscles to weaken and to knot up from the strain without exercising. It doesn't mean you're good at doing hunched over work. It's just where you find yourself after all the abuse, and eventually you'll probably be in so much pain that you can't even do hunched over work for long anymore. So as far as seeing goes, distance doesn't matter. So you might as well practice at a distance where you have something to work with and can remain attentive, as much as possible.

When people have extremely blurry vision and the difference between their vision and normal vision seems so huge that it's going to take a lot of work, they get the idea that they have to slowly work up to it, or build something up, or perform a miracle. But the blur is just an illusion. Everyone has eyes, and everyone's eyes work just fine (excluding disease conditions). It's just a matter of bad habits and terribly wrong ideas about the way they're supposed to use their eyes. It's something that's hard to communicate, but it doesn't mean it's hard to do. It's stuff that everyone already does occasionally, but they stop it in favor of something that doesn't work.

Right, the shifting has to be entirely mental in the sense that it's the attention that is driving it. That learned bad habit of shifting the eyes around somewhat mindlessly and forcefully just for the sake of keeping the eyes moving is a nasty one. It's just pure abuse.

"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
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09-02-2011, 01:32 AM
Post: #8
Re: breakthroughs
wow, lots of good posts and ideas in this thread!

@sean, thanks for writing your palming insights, it's great food for thought. I've got to work on that one: 'to not care how well I see the mental picture'. I find that if I 'try' to imagine anything, it doesn't work, but it's a hard temptation to resist as you say.

I'm happy for you that you learned so much so far, glad you came on here to share it! Did you have in person or correspondence lessons with Robert?

@pikachu Your dot sounds pretty good - does it improve your vision? If you are using the dot as the size of the point you are looking for (rather than trying to project the dot on what you are seeing), then it sounds like a good source of attention. When I practice this sort of thing consciously, I think of something specific (although small) to look for (ie imagine). So if I'm reading my computer screen and want to improve my vision, I will play a little game where I look for just the e's. I don't do this often or for very long (or that would make it boring), but it does give my vision an immediate boost when I do do it. It's kind of like the idea David had with his flamingo's picture 'look for an eye'.

I really thought this was useful from David:
Quote:When people have extremely blurry vision and the difference between their vision and normal vision seems so huge that it's going to take a lot of work, they get the idea that they have to slowly work up to it, or build something up, or perform a miracle. But the blur is just an illusion. Everyone has eyes, and everyone's eyes work just fine (excluding disease conditions). It's just a matter of bad habits and terribly wrong ideas about the way they're supposed to use their eyes. It's something that's hard to communicate, but it doesn't mean it's hard to do. It's stuff that everyone already does occasionally, but they stop it in favor of something that doesn't work.

see my vision diary blog: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://sorrisi.wordpress.com">http://sorrisi.wordpress.com</a><!-- m -->

Start: 5/200
After 8 months: 20/50
now, 5/10, 10/20, still improving and loving it
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09-02-2011, 02:51 AM
Post: #9
Re: breakthroughs
Hi Sean
Congratulations for your very fast and really big success! And thanks a lot for sharing your experiences and giving so many helpful tips and advices.

It very good to know, that our eyes can 'cope' with a really quick improvement - I became a bit uncertain, whether I was proceeding to fast in my practice, as I read, that most people in the forum take a much longer time;
I have used the very simple 'technique' of increasing the distance of the eye-chart every week by 5 to 10 cm (about 2 to 4 inches) as described here: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.iblindness.org/books/perfect-sight-without-glasses/ch28.php">http://www.iblindness.org/books/perfect ... s/ch28.php</a><!-- m --> and in E.Lierman's book.
Within about 6 months I have come to 2 m (about 6 1/2 feet) for my better eye, that is I manage - on good days - to get the letters clear which should be read at a distance of 8 feet. I started at a little more than 2 feet.
Lately, my vision was fluctuating very much and increasing double images were troubling me a lot, but I had a very busy and stressful time, maybe this is the reason. Nevertheless, I decided to keep up this distance for a longer period and give my eyes more time to stabilize.

Palming helps me best when I try to see black. It takes some practice, but I now feel immediate relief, when I see the black colour.
It even helps during the day to remember how my eyes felt seeing black while palming to relax them; Or I look at darker spots around me and imagine that there is a very small point of the blackest black somewhere.
When my eyes start to strain during my eye-chart practice, I imagine that the black colour is relaxing my eyes as much as the black seen while palming - it helps a lot;
When I try to imagine images, I very easily fall into 'daydreaming'...(which is also relaxing of course)
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09-02-2011, 09:06 PM
Post: #10
Re: breakthroughs
Pikachu Wrote:To clarify the part about shifting the attention, is it necessary to imagine what you see? Sometimes it helps for me to imagine another image in my head (sort of like a "movie screen", if you know what I mean). Other times, I find it more easier to use the "original" image and just remind myself that what I'm seeing is happening in my head.

In theory, I think you can imagine anything -- read Bates's description of the "drifting swing." But in practice, I find it easier to imagine what I'm actually looking at. The key thing is to put the imagined image inside your head ("inside" the eyeballs). Don't try to paste the image on the actual object because you'll strain.

Pikachu Wrote:And for the shifting of the attention, I just imagine a dot (sad to say, it doesn't have a defined color yet) and imagine that dot moving where I want to see. Is this more or less what you are talking about? If so, I suppose that you can refer to this "dot" as your attention, correct?

Don't worry about the color of the point. If a point is just a position in space, it needn't have a color. You will only be able to imagine it indistinctly and for a split-second, so don't try to hold the point.

The following two series of THOUGHTS have helped me learn how to shift with less effort. Notice that I said series of THOUGHTS -- not eye movements:

FIRST SERIES
1. Without consciously moving your eyes, think about a point in the periphery. Think of it as a position inside your head. This point will naturally be superimposed on top of some point in the outside world, but don't worry about how well you see that point in the outside world. (You SHOULDN'T see it well: it's not where your fixation is, remember?)
2. The point will move constantly and disappear. Let it. Just refresh it and think of it again.
3. Notice how everything you see swings in unison all on its own. It may feel like you're "losing control" and you may feel a bit of anxiety. If so, just notice the anxiety and don't try to do anything to regain control or to get rid of the anxiety.
(I find it especially useful to notice the swinging of objects in the opposite position from your imagined point. So if your point is to the upper left, notice movement in the lower right. If this tip does not help, please ignore it).
4. At some point in time, you may notice that your point of fixation (i.e., where you see best) has moved to your imagined point. It just happens magically. If it doesn't, you must stop and do something else -- trying to make it happen through a conscious eye movement is counterproductive.

SECOND SERIES
1., 2. the same as first series.
3. Without doing anything yet, form the intention to shift toward the imagined point.
4. Shift along the path of least resistance. The strain in your eyes means that you won't be able to shift accurately to the target without a great deal of effort. Your shift will be wildly inaccurate. (Oftentimes -- especially when I'm shifting upward, the path of least resistance is so inaccurate that it will be ORTHOGONAL to the intended direction). Expect it to be inaccurate and let it be inaccurate. You may feel for an instant that you're somehow making your vision worse and it will feel very wrong.
5. Notice how your shift has landed somewhere other than where you intended. Be okay with it and repeat starting from step 1.

These series of thoughts may not work for everyone but they work for me. And make sure you practice at distances where you see well. You'll be surprised at how much strain there is in your eyes even when you're looking at objects where you see well, so you may as well work at those distances.
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09-02-2011, 09:29 PM
Post: #11
Re: breakthroughs
Nini Wrote:I have used the very simple 'technique' of increasing the distance of the eye-chart every week by 5 to 10 cm

Hi Nini. I also have a strong temptation to "increase the distance" a certain number of centimeters per week or to decrease my glasses prescription at some rate that I think is "appropriate." I have found schedules like this to be counterproductive. My progress was extremely slow until recently, mostly because I didn't realize the importance of practicing shifting at distances where I already see well. Practicing at distances where you see well feels easier, so I think that subconsciously, we think we're not putting enough "effort" into our practice, and we all know what effort does to our vision.

A related point: I know that there's disagreement over whether it's better to discard glasses entirely or to wear a slightly weak prescription. In my case, my vision is bad enough that I find myself adding strain if I don't wear my glasses except in certain circumstances where I'm unlikely to add strain (lying on the beach or walking in the park, etc.) I try to follow two rules: to never wear glasses that correct my distant vision completely (20/40 vision); and to never wear glasses that correct to less than 20/40 when I'm working, driving, conversing, or doing any other task that requires acuity. I wasted a lot of time wearing too-weak glasses and undoing a lot of my progress, in part because I would often overestimate how well I was seeing (partly wishful thinking, I'm sure). This is an ongoing temptation that I still have to fight off.
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09-03-2011, 01:30 AM
Post: #12
Re: breakthroughs
Sean_Augensicht Wrote:A related point: I know that there's disagreement over whether it's better to discard glasses entirely or to wear a slightly weak prescription. In my case, my vision is bad enough that I find myself adding strain if I don't wear my glasses except in certain circumstances where I'm unlikely to add strain (lying on the beach or walking in the park, etc.) I try to follow two rules: to never wear glasses that correct my distant vision completely (20/40 vision); and to never wear glasses that correct to less than 20/40 when I'm working, driving, conversing, or doing any other task that requires acuity. I wasted a lot of time wearing too-weak glasses and undoing a lot of my progress, in part because I would often overestimate how well I was seeing (partly wishful thinking, I'm sure). This is an ongoing temptation that I still have to fight off.

I think going totally without glasses is hardcore practise and maybe not for everyone. Going without glasses gives you really good opportunities to keep cool (avoid strain) under adverse conditions. It may be a good way to get feedback of what one is doing wrong. I tend to lift my eyebrows and then my forehead starts to hurt. Then I do a couple of swipes to relax and remember to chill.

-Why do my eyes hurt?
-You've never used them before.
-------------------------The Matrix

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09-03-2011, 02:41 AM
Post: #13
Re: breakthroughs
I feel more comfortable without glasses, so I wear them only when absolutely necessary.
With untercorrected glasses I have the impression, that they are too strong at near distances and when I look further away the blurr irritates me much more than without glasses.
But I think everyone has to find out in which way the eyes can better find a relaxed sight without strain.
At first watching TV without glasses was not very amusing, but after an operation I could not wear my contacts and had no glasses (they broke long ago and I did'n't buy a new pair).
By the time I got my new glasses (2-3 months), I was so used to it, that I could easily do without. When I now watch TV, the image very often clears up, more and more often and for longer periods - especially when I look at faces - so that I can distinguish small details and see the facial expression clearly. It's a good feeling to watch the eyes train themselves while I enjoy the movie.
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09-08-2011, 08:40 AM
Post: #14
Re: breakthroughs
Here's another thing I've learned: when practicing any Bates technique, it is absolutely crucial to notice the feelings of pulling and pushing in the eyes. Just as important, it is crucial not to try to resist those tensions or counter them, as any attempt to do so creates a new strain. But simply by noticing those tensions, you make the production of those tensions go from being unconscious to being conscious, and after a few moments, your brain figures out that you are better off not producing those tensions and the strain lessens.

An easy way to start is do notice the swing when moving your entire body or head. The reason why it is easier to start by moving the entire head or body is that you can be absolutely confident that any feelings of tension produced in the eye are entirely unnecessary, and thereby learn what it is you are doing unconsciously. (Ultimately, your practice will involve eye movements--even if they are not conscious--but in the beginning, you want do at least some of your practice through movements of the entire head or body because you are less likely to confuse the accompanying tensions in your eyes for necessary movements needed to shift from one point to the next. To be sure, these tensions are NEVER necessary, but that incorrect belief is deeply ingrained in your brain).

The "variable swing" (described by Bates -- just google it) works especially well for me, though noticing any swing--done correctly--produces the same benefit. To notice the variable swing, you hold a finger in your peripheral vision near your face and swing your head slowly left and right. The critical thing is to 1. notice everything moving oppositionally, and to notice how the finger apparently moves faster than everything in the distance; 2. to notice the tensions you produce in your eyes.

Bates says that the variable swing works better for some people than for others. In my case, the finger seems to help because the movement is more evident than the movement of objects in the distance, and because it is in the periphery, which prevents me from trying to grab onto it. As with any practice, I know I am doing it correctly if my vision improves after 2 to 3 swings.

Bates has described countless alternatives ways to practice, and Dave has provided a lot of helpful clarifications. The necessity of noticing the feelings of tension in your eyes while practicing the methods is one additional clarification everybody should know about. Instead of spending time theorizing about how to improve sight, and spending endless amounts of time debating intellectually about things like "relaxation" and life stresses (in the abstract) and trying to be innovative, it's incumbent on all of us to instead spend the bulk of time practicing, practicing, and practicing.
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09-14-2011, 07:40 AM
Post: #15
Re: breakthroughs
WHAT YOU THINK YOU'RE SEEING VERSUS WHAT YOU REALLY ARE SEEING

A challenge to any shifting practice is that we often trick ourselves into thinking that we perceive oppositional movement when we empirically do not. This false perception arises because we know intellectually that when move our attention from point A to point B, there should be an illusion of oppositional movement in the direction going from point B to point A. But there is a difference between what we know theoretically and what we observe empirically in practice. In practice we DO observe some form of movement, but when the eyes are under a strain, the movement is not exactly in the opposite direction. Under high degrees of strain, the movement may be even be orthogonal to the direction of the shift or may be closer to the SAME direction as the shift rather than the opposite direction. Often, some part of the field of vision will move in one direction while other parts move in a different direction. In other words, the swing is not universal.

When we commit the fallacy of practicing Bates' methods in a mechanical way without really paying attention to what we are perceiving, we ignore what we actually perceive empirically in favor of a theoretical notion of what we think we perceive, with the result being that the practice produces no benefit or even makes our vision worse. On the other hand, by observing what we are truly perceiving, the strain is instantly reduced.

One of many ways way to demonstrate the difference between theoretical beliefs versus empirical observations is to think about the perceived movement of the pavement as you walk down the street. Of course we know intellectually that the objects on the ground should be apparently moving towards us, but this is typically not what we actually perceive when we are using our habitually way of seeing. The habit of straining to see things at the center of our attention prevents us from noticing what we are actually doing with our eyes. An easy way to reduce this tendency is to actively notice movement in the periphery. When the eyes are under a small strain, noticing movements a small distance from the center may suffice; when the eyes are under a greater strain, we may try to grab onto large areas, making it necessary to notice movement at the extreme periphery of our field of vision. Noticing the periphery in this way allows us to perceive what we are actually doing with our eyes without adding extra strain, and as soon as we notice what we are actually doing, we become able to release some of the strain.

RELEASING STRAIN FEELS WRONG. FOR ME (AND I SUSPECT OTHER MYOPES), THIS OFTEN MEANS HAVING THE MISPERCEPTION THAT WE ARE OPENING OUR EYES WIDE WITH A "SURPRISED" LOOK

I mentioned previously the importance of noticing what you are feeling in your eye muscles. Because the correct way of seeing is not habitual, when we release strain, it feels like we are doing something wrong. It may feel like we are making our vision worse and it may make us feel anxious.

In my case (as a myope), when I release strain in my eyes, it feels like the backs of my eyes are getting wider. This happens, for example, when walking down the street and noticing the pavement moving oppositionally. I have the false feeling that my eyes have a very "surprised" look and I wonder whether I look strange to other people. But looking in the mirror or asking a friend is enough to confirm that my eyes look normal, and that this feeling that I am doing something wrong with my eyes is in fact a misperception caused by long years of habitual misuse.

When I feel that I have this surprised look, I have a choice. There is a strong temptation to make the first possible choice, which is to try to restore the "normal" feeling and to stop looking surprised (by blinking hard, jerking the eyes into a position that feels more correct, or DOING something else). This is more "comfortable," but it also means restoring the strain and reversing any vision improvement.

The second choice is to acknowledge that this feeling seems weird and wrong, but not to try to undo it. An easy way to resist the temptation to make the first choice is to distract yourself from the temptation to undo the weird feeling by continuing to use one of Bates's methods, such as noticing oppositional movement, using imagination, or noticing your breathing or some other feeling elsewhere in your body ("mindfulness").

FEEDBACK REQUESTED

If people could give me feedback after reading my tips and trying them out, I'd appreciate it. I want to share some things that have worked remarkably effectively for me, and believe my posts will probably be lost in the flood of postings on this forum. On one level, improving vision is all about taking responsibility for our choices at each moment. A lot of questions people ask on the internet about eyesight improvement (not just this forum) have the flavor of "Does THIS gimmicky trick work? Does THAT gimmicky trick work? Tell me what to do so I can magically improve my vision." You can either waste all your time looking for that magical formula, or you can actually take responsibility for your actions and make progress. People who choose magic usually read advice on methods that actually worked and never bother think about it again before concluding that they are special cases and nothing works for them.
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