Palming is a basic Bates method exercise. There’s not much to it, as far as the basic instructions go. There doesn’t have to be anything mysterious about it.
Place your hands lightly over each eye, cupping your hands enough that you aren’t touching your eyes. Briefly open your eyes to make sure your hands are cupped enough to not interfere, but then keep your eyes closed. The fingers of one hand should somewhat overlap the fingers of the other.
The fingers of one hand are partly on top of the fingers of the other, just for comfort.
|As an aside…
The internet is full of experts, isn’t it? Have you noticed that in every subject on the internet, from car repair to health to bicycling, whether it’s on Yahoo Answers or any forum or popular comment section, you get no shortage of people jumping in to answer your questions with a few words… and they don’t give a REASON for their answer? I see this all the time on a poker forum. These guys will jump in and tell you what line to take, or simply tell you to fold, and you don’t have a clue why. It doesn’t help you.
And when you think about it, they aren’t doing it to help you. They’re driven by some compulsion not to help you but to give answers, like taking endless surveys or trying to answer Jeopardy questions. It’s entertainment or an uncontrollable urge.
So when you take advice on vision improvement, make sure the advice you’re following has a good reason behind it. Some of it you can verify. Some of it is a lot harder to verify, especially when you get into how your subconscious mind works. The point is, do what makes sense to you, and discard anything that you can’t make enough sense of. Doing what doesn’t make sense will just confuse you and lead you down a path of treating it all as mysterious and questionable, causing you to lose focus mentally and give up.
With that in mind, here’s a practical Q&A on palming.
Q: Why does palming work?
A: The main point is palming is a simple way for you to relax your eyes. It works for several possible reasons…
- Blocking light stops your eyes from being stimulated and helps you rest them. You can still stimulate your vision internally and you might see flashes of light or colored blobs, but at least the intense light isn’t contributing to it.
- A distraction effect, similar to how hugging and stroking a crying child distracts him from his emotional trauma, or shooting yourself in the foot to make your wrist hurt less. Covering your eyes and feeling your hands on your forehead, face, and all around your eyes, but not on your eyes themselves, distracts you from any strain, pressure or discomfort you feel in your eyes. The discomfort in your eyes actually feeds more of it because you continually react to it with tension and annoyance. When you stop paying attention to it, it starts to go away.
- A comfort effect. House cats like to crawl into in small spaces because they feel protected. With your hands covering your eyes, you know nothing will come along and hit your eyes. You also know that you aren’t responsible for seeing anything, and there’s no light to see. All this means you feel safe letting your eyes completely relax and do whatever they will do.
- Other explanations. Energy coming from your hands? Research that if it interests you, but I think the simplest explanations are the best and are all that’s necessary.
Q: What is the best position to palm in?
A: What ever position you can maintain comfortably and makes sense. If your back hurts after a while, it doesn’t make sense. You can sit up straight, reclined, against a wall, or lying down. You can support your arms with a pillow, your knees, a shelf, or nothing. There is no best position. You’re overthinking it. Don’t make it such a chore. All you’re doing is giving your eyes a bit of rest.
Q: What hand should be on top? How much should they overlap?
A: It makes no difference. If you have a compelling reason for it, go for it, but I’m not going to repeat anything about the differences that your left and right hands exude (if there is any such thing), because I have no way to verify something like that.
Q: How long should I palm for, and how often?
A: Experiment with it. If a short session makes your eyes feel better or makes you feel more mentally calm, keep repeating it often or try a longer one to see what happens. If a short session doesn’t do anything, either try a longer one or don’t do it at all. And it will have to fit into your life and personality. A long session that you put off doing is no good.
Q: What if a little light comes in between my fingers? How can I block it all?
A: Ok, this one is a doozy. A longer answer is required…
You’re asking this because you opened your eyes while palming and noticed you aren’t blocking 100% of the light.
To illustrate a point, hold you hands out flat, a good six inches away from your eyes, creating a small wall between you and the brightest light source around you. You’ll block like 80% of the light, roughly speaking, depending on the situation. Consider how much you’ll be blocking with your hands closer to your eyes and mostly covering them.
Then close and cover your eyes as when palming, and take note of what you can see through your closed eyes. Loosen your hands to open up a bunch of light holes, and then tighten your hands to try to close off any remaining light. Can you see a difference with your eyes closed? No. There is no difference.
So now ask yourself: Does it matter if a streak of light enters between my fingers? Is this going to make the difference between improving my vision and not? Is tensing my hands tighter productive, or is it very similar to my habit of tensing up my eyes to see, even though it doesn’t help?
Q: What do I think of while palming?
A: Something pleasant. The point is to relax. If you’re worrying about money, school, your relationships or your children, you aren’t relaxing. Beyond that, you can work on visualizing, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.
Q: Can I listen to music?
A: That’s fine, and I don’t want to tell you what you should like, but there’s a reason that certain softer types of music without vocals are used for things like massage therapy and meditation. Fast vocals will keep your mind racing, and anything loud will keep you at least a little tense.
So I hope some of this made sense to you. Palming is but one exercise. If you can do it “better,” that doesn’t necessarily mean your vision will get even better. It’s only a simple exercise, one of many others as a part of a complete solution. If you find it has some value for you, do it in the most convenient and easy way possible.
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Hello and thank you for your website and useful information. I have a question about lenses as well: if I still wear them part of a day, would the exercises still work for me? I have myopia (both eyes -3.0)
Yes, you can still learn to see better if you wear them sometimes, but of course less will make it easier.
Thank you for your answer, David. It’s funny but it takes a little bit of effort for me to keep my eyes closed when palming. If I completely relax my eyes, they open by themselves. But I’ll experiment a bit more with it.
My favourite exercise up till now is sun bathing. When I open my eyes after it, the relatively sharp images and vibrant green colours of the garden around me are really amazing!
Caroline, I think that’s normal, in that it should be easy to keep your eyes open. As you get rid of tension in the area it should also get easier to keep them closed without so much effort.
Hello there! I really like your very informative site and posts. 10 days ago I decided not to wear my lenses (-3.5 and -2.75) anymore. I try to do my exercises but I can’t seem to find a comfortable position to palm in for a longer period of time. My hands and arms get tense after 10 minutes and when I have an itch for example, it distracts me as I don’t want to interrupt the palming to scratch. When I try to relax, a lot of light comes past my hands and I can’t maintain my position. Would it be a good idea to buy a good sleep mask that leaves room for my eyes to open etc.? I know that hands are preferable, but with a sleep mask I would be able to relax much better in different positions and prolong the darkness, which may make me progress a bit.
Try keeping your eyes closed and move your fingers around to block more or less light and see if you can tell the difference. I would bet that with your eyes closed you can’t tell any difference between blocking 100% of the light and letting a bunch of it in between your fingers.
But if you don’t find any relief from palming, maybe it isn’t the right thing for you to do right now. You might need exercises that are more active, to “wake up” your system instead of slowing it down further.
kindly share those exercises for keeping active
Great post! I’d like to add one more tip though, completely forget about your eyes, and whatever you do, don’t think about them.
Good suggestion… It does indeed help to turn your attention away from your eyes so the tension can leave them.
I would on the contrary concentrate on the eyes and visualize how they become healthy, correct shape (from elongated like in myopia for example into round to have the rays focused in the retina). Where your attention goes, there goes the energy.
People with bad vision tend to direct their vision-related attention with too much tension. A little bit of visualizing the eyes relaxing is worth doing if you find it helps, but relaxation really isn’t anything special and is just an absence of undue tension. Relaxed eyes don’t feel like anything.