Several decades ago, after I had just joined a large computer company, I briefly dated a guy about 10 years older who was on the fast track to upper management. He was skinny and “wired”, so full of nervous energy it was as if he had strong coffee in his veins. He was very bright and I enjoyed our conversations, and I think he liked it that I didn’t defer to him automatically as many others did. I remember talking to him about relaxation, then him insisting he was relaxed. I was surprised — he didn’t even know how wound up he was!
In this year-end time of introspection and formulating goals, thinking about further vision improvement for myself, I’m wondering if this corporate guy from my past might have been a mirror for me. How relaxed am I most of the time? I’m reminded of “Myopes can tolerate a high degree of discomfort”. If I am uncomfortable, how aware am I of that fact?
With physical comfort in mind, I did an extended eye chart session last night. I quickly realized my spine was twisted since I wasn’t facing the chart head-on, so corrected that. My feet were cold, so I put on a thicker pair of socks. My shoulders were slightly raised, not having relaxed completely from an earlier workout, so I consciously let them drop. I needed to pay similar attention to keeping my head over my spine and not in front of it, and softening the tension in my jaw, my brow, and around my eyes. Yes, I saw a slight improvement in visual acuity from all this, but more important was the learning. How much could I improve my vision, and my other functioning, if I was more relaxed more of the time?
I don’t want to set myself a goal I can’t measure my progress toward, and also might beat myself up about not achieving, so I’m not going to demand of myself that I be more relaxed. (And isn’t trying to relax an oxymoron?) My intention in this area is to remain aware, as often as I remember, of how relaxed I am. That’s it. If I notice I’m not as relaxed as I’d like to be, I can then do what I need to to improve the situation.
For a couple of years now my vision has been hovering in the 20/50 range, plenty good enough in daylight for most things including driving, yet not as clear as I’d like. I guess it’s so much better than it used to be, and it is so thrilling that I can function without that prison of spectacles, that I haven’t pushed myself to improve further. Well, it’s time to do that now. In the past month I’ve been fierce about making sure I’m getting enough sleep, not always easy with the extra holiday responsibilities. Now I’m upping my game further to add more awareness, specifically of my comfort level.
One quick easy way to check how comfortable I am is my breathing. When my behavioral optometrist taught me how to see the Magic Eye 3D pictures, I noted that when the hidden picture came into focus for me, my breathing deepened and slowed. It was so relaxing to feel myself expand into this vast beyond-type space! On the other hand, when I’m nervous or rushing, my breathing is fast and a bit shallow. Last night during that exploratory chart session, I also felt my breathing deepen as I relaxed different parts of my body more fully.
As a child I was in “emergency mode” most of the time, probably not relaxed at all. An elementary school teacher called me Twinkletoes, since I was always on my tiptoes, ready to flee at a moment’s notice. I also used to sit right on the edge of my chair, again ready to flee, and she once tipped the chair forward unexpectedly so I fell on the floor, I guess trying to break me of this habit. I probably made HER nervous! Now I feel like it’s safe to relax, that I don’t have to constantly be on High Alert. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to be very relaxed and very alert at the same time, like a martial arts warrior. For now I’ll settle for being mostly relaxed, mostly alert, and seeing better than ever.