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notes on looking at details and changing - Printable Version

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notes on looking at details and changing - David - 08-20-2010

Just a few notes. These are my most recent notes on want to update the articles on the site with and redirect the emphasis towards. It's kind of rambling and repeating because that's how it came out on various days as things occurred to me and I wrote them down. Ignore the mixed pronouns, but I'm looking for feedback. Does any of this make sense?

Look for small details within that which you’re looking at. It isn’t staring. You shouldn’t feel your eye movements or try to force eye movements with the idea that you’re preventing staring. Really what you’re doing by forcing yourself to make eye movements is neglecting what you’re looking at in favor of how you’re looking at it, and you can’t look at it right if you don’t pay attention to it. When you look at a small enough detail, you will have trouble keeping your eyes pointed at it – it’s unavoidable. Your eyes will naturally shift slightly, and you will have to keep shifting your gaze to find it again and attempt to look at it directly.

At first it may seem like you don’t see enough around you or as if you’re blocking off your attention when you look only at details. This is only because you’re getting used to a different way of seeing. But it’s the way of seeing that your visual system was designed for, so it’s relatively easy to adapt to it compared to the way of seeing that was unnatural and led to the gradual deterioration of your quality of vision.

There is some misunderstanding out there about eye movement or keeping your gaze moving, never stopping at any point in order to avoid “staring”. The word “staring” was used by Dr. Bates, but today it only causes confusion as to the exact definition of the word and what is being described as a detrimental thing. Let’s avoid any use of the word.

If you watch a person with normal vision, his eyes don’t always dart around much to different objects. Much of the time his eyes appear to not be moving at all. His process of looking at things is a matter of continuously looking for details and looking within those details to find further smaller details of interest. If he is not searching a wide area or looking around himself, he looks at the details of one thing only.

As I describe this, it may sound like an obvious description of how we look at things, but for whatever reason you have gone wrong in doing this, and your habits have changed to an abnormal way of looking at things such that your visual system has gone haywire. Further complications and side effects can result from this dysfunction, giving people the illusion that it is a complex problem or that their eyes themselves are degrading and likely beyond repair, leading them to resort to measures even more drastic than glasses such as surgery. Although it’s possible that in your dysfunction you have caused long-term problems that may take some time, the poor vision that people experience is mainly and by far commonly held in place continuously simply by the dysfunctional process of seeing they have gotten used to. Fortunately, the correct way is easy. It only needs to be practiced and adjusted to.

Myopia and other conditions should be thought of as disorders. As disorders, they have no organic cause and can be resolved entirely by education and training. The training resolves the disorder by establishing correct patterns of visual functioning. Symptoms such as blurry vision, eyestrain, and double images have for too long been treated as organic conditions that are due to imperfections of the visual system. These symptoms in reality are all ultimate effects of a disorder and will disappear as the disorder is resolved.

I think shifting is badly misunderstood as an attribute of normal vision. It’s a matter of looking for details in every moment. Look for details with sincerity. By that I mean: Do not look from detail to detail because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do. Do it because you are sincere in your interest to find details on that object. There simply is no way to fake this and make it work. We get in the habit of establishing systems and packing them in place with dirt in an attempt to make them permanent and self-sustaining. But it doesn’t work that way when we deal with ourselves, specifically removing a bad habit. All we do is make things perhaps better for a short time but ultimately more complicated and worse. With that in mind, when you’re looking for details, you better want to find something, and it better be small. Your vision will not adjust into a correct pattern if you try to deceive it by playing some sort of game of looking from detail to detail. In such a game, you simply are not fully engaged and sincere. When you do something long enough with enough sustained intent (which may need to be repeated a lot as you lapse away from it), you become it.

At first it’s intense. It’s all you can do. But it becomes easier after frequent repeated sessions, because at some point you become the process itself, and as a multi-functional being you do not have to try to be what you already are - you become it and grow, and of course you are many things at once.

The rules we learn as part of the Bates method can be harmful. We learn about movement and shifting and we try to do things right with those concepts in mind, as well as we can understand them, or think we do. When we look at things, we remind ourselves to do it a certain way, because we’re trying to relearn the correct way and, despite lousy results so far, we continue to do what we think is the right way in order to combat the years we’ve spent doing it the wrong way. The right way isn’t about technique in the sense of moving your eyes at the right speed or looking at a new detail after a certain amount of time. It’s about the way you approach it. It has everything to do with the way you approach it. Look at the ways people with normal sight see. Some of them appear to totally just stare. Men in certain Middle Eastern cultures tend to appear as if they’re staring for long periods of time, not moving their eyes. But they do. They just have a different learned cultural way of looking at things, and it’s just as correct as a person with normal vision who is constantly looking around, scanning for things to draw his attention. So don’t get caught up in things like that.

Re: notes on looking at details and changing - Nancy - 08-20-2010

Yes -- I had a realization yesterday while driving which was similar, that if I thought I could see "well enough" I stopped looking for details, and then of course my vision didn't improve. I wrote about this on my blog.

The only addition I'd make, and maybe it belongs in a separate topic or only applies to people who try too hard at a lot of things, is the nature of looking should be curious and interested, not obsessed and grabbing. "I have to see more detail!" won't do it. This concept is difficult to put into words, but I can feel it when I try to look vs. letting myself look. It's the same, to me, as Peter Grunwald's over-focusing vs. being present and aware.

Thanks for this post-- I'm coming to believe this is the heart of how I can improve further.

Re: notes on looking at details and changing - David - 08-20-2010

I've read so much emphasis from various books on avoiding "strain" or "effort" at all costs that I think it gives the idea that people should be not involved in an active and intense process of searching for details. Those words have gotten so overused, in my opinion, that they've turned into cop-outs and can be used to justify any idea that's way off base. So I guess I'm writing all this with that in mind. People have come with a large variety of ways to relax their eyes somewhat, but they do it at the cost of being disconnected from the process of seeing and might do alright until they open their eyes and do something, at which point they're totally struggling. That pattern of anxiously grabbing large chunks is only anxious when it's done in large chunks. The smaller the point of attention, even if there's an intensity or urgency about it, promotes so much focused calmness that it overrides any sense of anxiety that would be there or was there. It's easy for any of us to fall into the bad pattern of thinking about our eyes too much and what they should be doing, but when we attend to details all the time and let our eyes and brains fill in the rest on their own, thinking about our eyes just isn't an issue, because we have overridden that pattern with the focused attention that I guess just doesn't allow for thinking much about the eyes at the same time. The attention is on the reality of sorting out the pieces of what we're looking at.


Re: notes on looking at details and changing - Alexndre - 08-20-2010

Hi Dave and Nancy!
Great post!

As I understand it from my personal experience, while looking at far objects with normal sight, the eye can look everywhere as a child in a toy store, or it may appear to ''stare'', as Bates describe the short swing. But for doing that (having perfect sight), it have to be relaxed. At first, you may have to do the different methods to ''start'' shifting on details. When you are relaxed, it is done automatically, but when you are strained, the eye don't even want to shift or to look at anything. This is why it is so important to be present and grounded because if you are thinking to what you will do in 3 days, you will not be interested by the details in your environment.

Have a nice day of improvements!

Re: notes on looking at details and changing - Summon-Pretty-Peace - 08-21-2010

I had fun doing this in my imagination.

What I did was first close my eyes and imagine a blurry shape-- not blurry as if it had been Photoshopped blurry, but blurry as if I was looking at it with my usual myopia. In my case it was blue and sort of irregular. Then I gradually imagined that it was smooth in some areas and not in others. I continued step by step adding in more details. If you physically move your eyes while doing this, you know you're doing it wrong. Finally I decided it was a white cardboard box in a dimly lit room with an electric fan sticking out of it, clear and sharp. O0

If you're into painting it works well, since you know you first lay down base colors and then build up more and more detail.

Re: notes on looking at details and changing - David - 08-22-2010

Another thing - Don't look at details of the blur. Look at details of what you want to see. It may seem like the same thing, but it's an important matter of how you think about what you're looking at, because in one instance you're telling your visual system that you want to see the blur and have no interest in seeing what's there, and in the other you're telling it that you're trying to find a way through it to see what is there. At first when you look at something that you see blurry you do have to look at the pieces of blur to see what you're dealing with. Trying to see is not a bad thing. It's necessary to concentrate to sort something out, and in that sense you are trying to see. What is wrong is the tensing of the eyes in an effort to accomplish something with the help of the tension.

Nancy, that does sound like a good way to rehearse.


Re: notes on looking at details and changing - clarknight - 08-22-2010

Good way of thinking David. Thinking too much about the eyes, directiong, controling their action does muck up, interefere with completely natural function. Yeah, it is better when the mind is having fun, interested in the details, moving the eyes automatically without being like a exercise.
Lot of people ask me about shifting and I try to get them to practice, then dont practice, I tell them to forget about the eyes so they can go completely natural and let that central fixation (details) to occur naturally.
I was taught in a Natural Vision Improvement course to use the Imaginary Nosefeather to get the eyes moving, shifting by imagining a very thin feather, with the tiny pointed end moving and touching parts of objects, moving from part to part, tiny detail to tiny detail with the eyes, center of the visual field.
At times I found that this causes some people, including myself to 'try' to get he end of the feather exact on the details and moving detail to detail. This results in tension and clarity obtained then lowers.
I then noticed in a old book by Janet Goodrich that she has students use a big fluffy nose-feather.
At first I thought that since the end of this feather is big and fluffy, no pointed end to touch tiny details, central field, that it will not move point to point, tiny detail to tiny detail but, - as I tried it I found it very relaxing, absoultely no effort and my mind was free to drift, enjoy looking; I just painted over parts of trees, houses... as I rode the bus and it got my eyes moving, neck, head relaxed with easy movement and since I know about central fixation; the eyes automatically moved 'on their own' detail to detail very easy, so relaxing! While sweeping the feather over large objects, the eyes took care of everything else. I will remember your post next time I need to help someone with a question about shifitng and central fixation.


Re: notes on looking at details and changing - clarknight - 08-22-2010

I have learnt many things on this Forum that Natural Vision Improvemeent Teachers did not tell m me.

Re: notes on looking at details and changing - Nancy - 08-23-2010

David, thanks for the distinction between shifting on the blur (trying to see the blur better!) and shifting on what is there, the objects and details of them. I can feel myself shifting on the blur and getting discouraged, more and more defeated as only a few details emerge, because my focus is on blur! If instead I shift on the details I can see, smaller and smaller shifts as more details emerge and I know what they are, my imagination can fill in even more of the picture, my sight can clarify or correct that, and then I see it even more clearly. It's not always obvious to me if I'm seeing something or imagining I'm seeing it, especially when I first look, but I don't really care. Call it "blur interpretation" if you want -- if I can understand my environment visually, I am seeing.

Re: notes on looking at details and changing - David - 08-23-2010

Some years ago when I started this, I was reading a book and suddenly I was looking at a letter, seeing it clearly, and seeing it in my mind's eye at the same time. Before that point I had flashes of clear vision and also some clear images sometimes in my mind's eye, but that it may have been one of the first times, or at least a rare time, that my vision and imagination (or whatever you want to call it) had worked cohesively, so it was pretty interesting having two systems meet and fit together. It felt really unusual, like I was remembering it at the same time as I was seeing it. I haven't really noticed such a thing lately, so I'm guessing that's because over the years it's become more the norm and they aren't disconnected anymore.

I bring it up because it helps illustrate that it's important to have some intention in what you're seeing so that you have a chance to properly involve the right parts of your mind, while of course still only looking at the details. It's a balance and really just a matter of being honest with yourself as you look for details. You want to see the tree, for example, so don't make things more complicated and pretend like you don't want to see it (to avoid straining to see it) and try to change your intention to specks of blur that don't really represent the tree. But in order to see the tree, you do have to look for the details. So it's a matter of "this is what I want, and this is how I'm going to go about doing it." The basic problem in this sense causing perpetual blur is "this is what I want, and I'm trying to get it now by just wanting it without taking the right steps", which just represents twisted thinking that causes all kinds of inner conflict.


Re: notes on looking at details and changing - Nancy - 08-24-2010

Well said. I have often tried not to see the whole thing which I could sort of see, believing I should be focusing instead on the speck of blur because it was a smaller point. This is strain, and my intention still ought to be to see the whole thing clearly. I just shouldn't go about doing it by trying to see it all in one big visual gulp. Thank you.

Re: notes on looking at details and changing - David - 08-28-2010

Just to add some rambling thoughts of hopefully a concrete example -

Let's say you look at a tree and only see blurry globs of green and brown. So what should you do? Looking at the tree the way you did obviously didn't work, because it got you to where you are now, seeing blur. You could choose to try relaxing or not staring or something like that here, and although technically it's correct to say that blurry vision is caused by adding strain into the process and the visual system is capable of seeing just fine once you stop throwing rocks into the gears, focusing only on stopping what's wrong seems quite insurmountable and confusing, because you're trying to identify something that you're just way too used to as being normal, and you're trying to stop doing something by doing...what? You have to do something. So I think it's easier to just ignore what you're doing wrong, focus on the right way, and the wrong way will be supplanted. So what's the right way? Let's step back and take a common sense approach. What are we really doing here? You looked at the tree because you wanted to see it, right? Let's not try to replace that by trying to make you artificially interested in seeing pieces of the blur, basically a bunch of scattered details that won't make much sense, but which supposedly you're supposed to look at because it's the right way to do things. But you wanted to see the tree. Instead of changing that, all we have to do is make it more specific. As soon as your eyes move to the tree, instead of leaving the idea in your head of just seeing "the tree", pick a small part of it. Is that moss? Are those some dead pine needles? If you want to see the tree, you better want to see the details of it. So while you look at it, don't try to look at it in a way where you're supposedly "shifting" between details that don't really have any meaning for you. You have to care about what you're looking at, and it may feel more intense that way, because you're actually involving your visual system in the process of searching for details and figuring out what you're looking at. If you involve the visual system enough, it will adjust focus just like it's supposed to.

It shouldn't take more than a few minutes, if that, to notice a change. Not necessarily a flash of perfect vision, but better vision anyway. Your eyes may or may not sting and water, but just blink and continue it.

I'd be interested in anyone's take on this while trying to change their seeing process like this.


Re: notes on looking at details and changing - andy87055 - 08-28-2010

This makes a lot of sense and has been helping me a lot in the past couple of weeks. It seems like paying attention to details is the best way to reconnect your mind to what you are seeing. I have found that noticing other details like color and texture is important as well. You are definitely right about not being able to fake this. You can't just force yourself to move your eyes and see one point best. You also can't force yourself to relax. You have to care about what you are looking at and reconnect your mind to the rest of the world. I am convinced that seeing is mostly mental. If your mind is engaged in seeing the world, your eyes will do the rest of the work for you.

Re: notes on looking at details and changing - David - 08-28-2010

Andy, right. People get clear flashes and then try to reproduce it by doing the same thing again with their eyes. And it doesn't work, because it had nothing directly to do with what their eyes were doing. They can do the same shifts with their eyes over the same objects, with the same thoughts, and it won't work, because they're faking it by trying to artificially change their eyes' behavior without changing their own process of observation and attention. And the system that we run our observation/attention process with is the ONLY thing that knows how to correctly operate the eyes. We control the system, and the system controls the eyes. That's the only way it can work right. For better or worse, we are capable of assuming direct control over the eyes (ie: taking over the movement of the eyes from the system that is supposed to run it), for the purposes of things like getting foreign objects out of the eyes and closing the eyelids for protection.


Re: notes on looking at details and changing - JMartinC4 - 08-29-2010

We got a 40" 1080p HD tv last January. It is great at stimulating clear vision flashes/ing for me. One method I've discovered with it is to look at the background images and activities rather than always focusing on the foreground subjects and things the show is emphasizing. I'd estimate I now spend 50% of the viewing time switching back and forth, looking at the background material, then foreground, ignoring the difference in acuity and astigmatism and blur between my two eyes, adjusting my head/face viewing angle, and resulting in controlled clear flashing.