Ever since I started vision improvement more than 15 years ago, when I wore -10 hard contacts unless I was sleeping, I’ve become aware of the imbalance between my right and left sides. And as I started to reduce my prescription, the left eye lagged way behind the right, sometimes measuring as much as 3 diopters blurrier. My left eye seemed afraid to see my world clearly, while the right eye was eager.
As a child I was athletic, in almost a frantic way, climbing trees or ropes or riding my fat-tired bike, or running back and forth hitting a badminton bird over the clothesline which ran across our backyard with my sisters or Dad. I did the best I could with my ever-thicker glasses. In neighborhood softball games I was often the “designated runner” or the manager, since my depth perception was so poor in those glasses I could not hit or catch the ball no matter how hard I tried.
As an adult wearing strong contact lenses, I joined a few company volleyball teams. I was quick and the ball was big enough for me to see, so I did this for a few years. When I started running, it seemed the perfect antidote to my sedentary desk job. I admit, though, that I approached running a bit desperately, like I was trying to escape a predator. I often tripped or fell in potholes because I wasn’t looking. If you don’t look, you won’t see!
When I joined a gym on a trial offer, I loved it. I had no interest in the classes, but the weights called to me. I wasn’t afraid I would get “big muscles” like a lot of women back then, as I knew I didn’t have the right hormones or body type for that. I just wanted to be strong, and not have arms that looked like Olive Oyl’s! And the free weights helped me begin to focus on balancing the 2 sides of my body, as it was obvious when I could lift or push or pull a weight with my right but not my left.
When I began to do more things without my contacts, the gym was a great place to push my visual limits, without overwhelming me. I was on foot and usually moving slowly, and all the different shiny machines or people in brightly colored outfits gave me plenty of practice at gazing at details and letting them form a shape I understood. It really confused me, though, when the gym owners moved one of the big machines to a new spot, or brought in an unfamiliar machine I had to identify.
After retiring from my corporate job and starting my own coaching and vision improvement business, I decided to give up the gym membership which was getting more and more expensive, and work out at home. I use my small weight set 3 or 4 times a week now, and still get plenty of vision and balance practice. If I’m facing the front window, which is bisected by a center vertical bar separating the 2 panes which slide horizontally, I can check if my body or gaze is twisted to one side or is facing straight ahead.
Folks who have one eye which sees more clearly can unconsciously try to center that eye by tilting their head, and may have their shoulders uneven or more weight on one leg too, so the entire body is shifted to one side. If I look at childhood pictures I definitely did this. I just want to reach out and take those strong glasses off the little girl who was trying so hard, and give her a hug!
Some vision teachers talk about a “vision halo”, which you can construct from a wire clothes hanger. You bend it to fit around your head, with a long straight piece hanging down in front of your nose, directly in the center of your vision. This acts like the center bar in my front window. I look beyond the bar to the view behind it, and as my gaze diverges, the bar becomes 2 vertical bars framing the view. It’s a wider frame as I look farther. If my body is not still enough, or my gaze is jumping all over the place, I don’t get the effect.
The longer I pay attention to my vision, the more I see it’s not a separate part of my existence or my body or my emotions — they are all connected. If I’m not balanced emotionally, instead caught up in holiday stress or the crisis of the moment, my vision won’t be balanced and calm either. And I’ll probably be wobbling when I do my lunges in a leg workout. I’ve always been flexible and reasonably strong for my slim size, yet balance (of all forms!) has been more of a challenge. That doesn’t mean I give up, it just means I give that area more attention. Once again, my vision is teaching me about how I see myself, and how to improve that view.
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