Palming, or covering the eyes with cupped hands to let the visual system rest, is one of Dr. Bates’ main vision improvement exercises. He said most if not all vision troubles come from straining, and palming is a great way to release visual and mental strain.
When people first hear about palming, they may be afraid they’re not doing it right. Should they put the left hand over their eye first, or the right? (Left is recommended.) Should the hands be cupped or flat? (Cupped, to leave the eyeball free from any pressure.) Should the eyes be closed beneath their palms? (Yes.) Can palming be done lying down? (Yes, and be sure you’re comfortable, not straining your neck or shoulders or arms.) It’s pretty simple, and the following short YouTube video will tell you most of what you need to know.
Dr. Bates wrote about a man who palmed for 20 hours, and permanently cured his strong myopia, but even a few minutes of palming can be beneficial. You might want to take a short palming break every half-hour when you’re at the computer, really sinking into the blackness and relaxing, knowing you don’t have to see anything or do anything right now.
About palming posture, most people seem to like leaning their elbows on a desk or table while sitting, maybe with a pillow under their elbows for support and cushioning. I like to sit upright, and don’t like palming at my desk because I’m leaning forward too much. So I usually sit on the floor with my knees bent up and rest my elbows on my knees. Experiment to find a palming position which works for you — it will be worth it.
When you first start palming, you may be alarmed to see flashing lights or rainbow colors swirling around. This can be especially distressing if you’ve heard you’re supposed to see black! You’re not doing anything wrong. Your visual system is releasing tension, just like the body twitches you may get during meditation. You are letting go of stress as you approach a more relaxed state. Do not try to see black, which is straining. Just notice, and the blackness will eventually deepen.
Some people are restless and fidgety when they try palming. “I can’t sit still!” they say. These folks may have the same comment about meditation — they’re too revved-up, too hyper, to really relax. Take it from me, who used to be just like this: if this is your case, you need palming more than anyone! When I first tried palming, I was constantly thinking “I have so many things to do! Am I finished palming yet?”. Try just a few minutes at first. You may find you come to like it. And your eyes will be so grateful!
When I started palming regularly, I noticed after I was finished that the room seemed brighter with my right eye, but not so much with my left eye, in which the vision was blurrier. Hmm… This nudged me to pay more dedicated attention to training my left eye, and now the difference between my 2 eyes is much less. My visual system is more balanced than it has been in years.
Again like meditation, palming will calm you and improve your focus (both visual focus, and mental focus on a challenge). Being “too busy” can be seen as a source of pride, but it’s no fun. I’d rather be peaceful and also productive! And palming regularly helps me stay that way. Why not take a palming break right now?