Eye Contact

If someone won’t meet your gaze, it’s assumed that they might be lying to you, or being deceptive and trying to hide something. Calling a person “shifty-eyed” implies a devious character. On the other hand, the person who won’t look you in the eye could be extremely shy, bordering on afraid. This was the case with me years ago when I wore thick glasses and was highly near-sighted. I did not want to look at anyone because it seemed like they could see right through my eyes into my private thoughts, making me feel vulnerable and exposed.

When I started vision improvement, it was a brand-new adventure, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, or if I could dare hope to actually help myself see more clearly. Would this work, or was I doomed to wear my thick -10 lenses forever? As I examined my habits and way of being in the world, it struck me that I hardly ever looked anyone in the eye. When I went for a walk I looked at my feet, not ahead and out at the world. If anyone approached me, I tended to glance to the side of them or beyond them. I was clearly not using my eyes to connect!

For most of us, our vision is the dominant sensory modality with which we interpret our environment. “Did you see that?” we ask a friend, meaning “Did you perceive what I did, and understand it the same way?”. When I studied with Peter Grunwald, the developer of the Eyebody Method of vision improvement, he told us to look all the way out to a distant object, even if it appeared blurry at first. If we were in the habit of stopping our gaze a few feet ahead of the object, not making full eye contact, we wouldn’t ever see it clearly.

Years ago I was very shy, so it was easier for me to practice looking fully at a tree than at a person. I felt my energy go out from my visual system, and imagined I felt the tree receiving it, then sending it back with gratitude. How many people take trees, the lungs of our precious planet, for granted? In all seasons, bare-branched in winter, or fully leafed in warmer weather, there’s plenty to see, clearer and clearer. But I had to look to see!

Now when I go for a walk I enjoy looking out at the scenery around me, left and right and overhead and far down the sidewalk in the distance. I practice engaging visually with the people I see, which is still not automatic for me, as I tend to be more introverted than extroverted. Most people who look at me are not inspecting me for flaws or about to interrogate me, which is how it used to feel, they’re just interested in me!

All those years behind thick strong lenses kept me separate, apart from the world and others. If I choose to be alone I still can be. However if I choose to be out in the stream of Life, I want to really be in it, not “phoning it in”, doing it half-way. Do those you love a favor today: really see them. Another bad habit I used to have was to see what I expected, a remembered or imagined image in my head, instead of seeing what was right in front of my eyes in the moment. What a gift to be seen and received just as we are! Are you making eye contact?


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Nancy
I wore strong glasses, then contact lenses, for most of my life, starting at age 5. While making many mistakes, eventually l learned how to improve the way I use my eyes and to see in a more relaxed, healthy manner. It is my pleasure to coach others to do the same. Visit me at https://NancyLNeff.com.
Nancy

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Nancy

Author: Nancy

I wore strong glasses, then contact lenses, for most of my life, starting at age 5. While making many mistakes, eventually l learned how to improve the way I use my eyes and to see in a more relaxed, healthy manner. It is my pleasure to coach others to do the same. Visit me at https://NancyLNeff.com.

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miska goswami
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miska goswami

Hi Nancy,
Awesome article about Eye contact. Thanks for share

Roman
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Roman

The topic of “Eye Contact” immediately triggered a myriad of memories, associations etc., so that I initially refrained from commenting because nothing felt very coherent. Only this: Ever since I remember, direct eye contact (through glasses/contacts – I don’t remember ‘eye contact’ before that time) felt like a sudden, strong physical (electrical?) shock to me, accompanied by varying messages of “DON’T!”. This still happens, but these days, mostly, I can follow the process and the various messages, and I am becoming clearer as to where these messages originated.
Without glasses/contacts, there is no shock (because I can’t see faces clearly); this speaks volumes to me of what my eyes wanted to avoid ‘back then’ but were forced to do anyway by putting lenses on them.

Darrel
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Darrel

Hello Nancy! As regards eye contact I have read that it can vary from culture to culture. So Westerners generally make much more eye contact with each other than occurs in East Asia. This can lead to misunderstanding, as people from the West can be perceived by them as over-confident, cocksure etc. I think it was said that if you get the chance, observe two Japanese talking to each other and you will see that much less eye contact is made. Apparently even Japanese who have lived in the US for some decades and then returned home after becoming Westernised may find that their countrymen are now uncomfortable which the level of eye contact being made. On the other side, Westerns who are unaccustomed to the lower level of eye contact with these cultures might wrongly attribute negative qualities to individuals from the culture (shifty, inscrutable etc). More education is needed. Incidentally I think Margaret Corbett said in his Bates book words to the effect that when we do make eye contact with people we may notice that their pupils are interesely black and we can practice central fixation principles by shifting and swinging from one pupil to another, or… Read more »

Lewis
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Lewis

Dear Nancy, Thanks for sharing valuable information about Eye contact. I’ll visit here again for more information.

Lewis
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Lewis

Thanks Nancy

Frank
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Frank

Dear Nancy, thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts!
With love from Germany! 🙂 Frank

Els D'hollander
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Els D'hollander

Great blog, Nancy! Thank you for sharing your experience. At the beginning of this year I started walking in our neighbourhood with my strong eye patched. I was terrified of what ‘others’ might think if they’d see me walking like that. At first when I spotted someone I found myself trying to hide behind a tree or a fence. And when ‘they’ came closer I noticed I stopped breathing, freezed completely and looked at my feet trying very hard to avoid any contact with them. Especially the area around my stomach felt very very tight. Interesting, isn’t it? The third chakra, selfworth… It was quite interesting to observe myself. Clearly I felt unsafe even though objectively there was nothing unsafe about the situation. So I started to aknowledge my fear and talking to myself – and my right eye – during these walks. One day a lady approached my asking me compassionately if I had a serious eye condition… and we had a very lovely conversation. It was the first of many lovely encounters with people who were curious about the eye patch and about me. And a great opportunity to spread the natural vision philosphy too 🙂 And you… Read more »

Alvina
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Alvina

Hello, Els!

I liked very much your story, the way you describe it feels as if you describe my perceptions.

Hello Nancy!

I was thinking about you, glad you have posted a new article.

Roman
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Roman

Thanks a lot for sharing this, Els! I also have a significantly ‘weaker’ right eye (5 percent acuity, it that’s the right term), and I have been wondering about this (also in connection with body sides and how they really are quite different, represent different aspects, etc.). And there sadly is precious little in the classic ‘natural vision improvement’ literature about this particular ‘configuration’. Sometimes I do feel my better eye is kind of angry/condescending toward the other one for having to do all the work. This, of course, can be seen as one representation of the various inner dialogs we all have …
Thanks again!
Roman

Roman
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Roman

Hi Nancy, and thanks for the link. Hadn’t seen that article before. I think I came across that father/mother thing once before (in Berne’s Creating Your Personal Vision, I think). I’d interpret this as (another) internalization of the husband-wife/father-mother conflict, mainly played out on many parents’ favorite playfield – their child/children. I also very very vaguely seem to remember a passage in a book (thought it was Femi’s Open-Focus Brain, but can’t find it in there anymore) where the right eye is linked to basic emotions and initial bonding. Another thing that makes a lot of sense to me, but, as many explanations, takes one only so far. But every little piece is a step on the way …

Roman
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Roman

Nancy – after rereading my comment I realized it sounded a bit ‘offhandish’ in places … No disregard intended – I do appreciate this blog and particularly the honest way you talk about your experience and propose various ways of looking at things.
My mirror experience: It took me ages (well, some time) to find out why when looking at my left eye my eyes don’t shift, but when looking at my right eye, they do. … I simply couldn’t see my right eye with my right eye so I was using my left one for that too – hence the shift. I have since ever so gradually been able to peel out my right eye from the ‘right eye’ blur. Ahm … sounds confusing, but there you have it 🙂
Thanks again!
PS: And yes, I agree. There is a part of oneself that knows.