The three steps of seeing - Printable Version
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The three steps of seeing - David - 08-29-2011
The three steps of seeing
To break your bad habits that are causing blurry vision, you need to break up what you're doing into separate tasks so that you can understand what you're really doing and be conscious of it as you're doing it. There are multiple steps to seeing. This is analogous to how I've written recently about breaking up what you're looking at into smaller pieces, but here we're looking at not what's out there, but what's going on inside you.
These are the three general steps of seeing. Let's go through them with the flamingos and then see how they relate to one another.
<a href="http//blog.iblindness.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/flamingos1.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-156" title="flamingos" src="http//blog.iblindness.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/flamingos1.jpg" alt="flamingos" width="640" height="480" /></a>
1. <strong>Pay attention</strong> - Look for the eye of a flamingo above, and study it. To do so, move your attention slowly along a line cross-crossing back and forth. This is a constant process of thinking, "What's next to this? And what's next to this?" and so on as you move your attention along.
2. <strong>Move your eyes</strong> - Let your eyes are drawn to what you're paying attention to and thinking of. Your eyes follow your attention, whether you remain paying attention to the flamingo's eyes or beak or something else nearby.
3. <strong>Focus</strong> - Your visual system takes care of this. There's nothing you can consciously do to control, in the moment, how clear an image is. This is a complex process where the eyes receive light rays onto the retina, the data is processed and send to the brain for more processing, and the eyes adjust focus as they move.
That's how it's supposed to work. People go wrong by mixing up the steps. Below are examples. <strong>Don't do any of these!</strong>
<strong><span style="color red;">2. Move your eyes, 1. Pay attention, 3. Focus.</span></strong> Here they concentrate on moving their eyes around a flamingo, with the idea that according to the Bates method they have to keep their eyes moving, and then they try to pay attention to whatever somewhat random flamingo or spot of grass they moved their eyes to before jumping to the next spot and trying to pay attention to it. This doesn't work because they are interfering with the seeing process by forcefully moving their eyes and giving their attention a backseat, essentially subjugating and abusing themselves. Real attention has to drive it, or you remain as a mere passenger and the entire process doesn't really work out in your favor.
<strong><span style="color red;">2. Move your eyes, 3. Focus, 1. Pay attention.</span></strong> Here people push their eyes around first, as above, but instead of paying attention to what they're looking at, they hope that they will magically see a whole flamingo or a part of a flamingo by virtue of moving their eyes around, and they wait for things to come into focus as they remain disinterested in it unless it's completely clear. They never fully get to the "Pay attention" step. You have to remain interested and engaged in what you're looking at.
<strong><span style="color red;">3. Focus, 1. Pay attention, 2. Move your eyes.</span></strong> Here they start off by trying hard to "see" or focus on the flamingo. People stare at a flamingo and try to bring it into focus without moving their attention around at all. This doesn't work because the gaze has to move to provide a constant context and more information to help sort the data. There is a whole new set of visual data when you move your gaze just slightly, barely at all, and your visual system takes all that data into account as it forms an image for you.
<strong><span style="color red;">3. Focus, 1. Move your eyes, 2. Pay attention.</span></strong> As above, they start off by trying to focus on a flamingo by staring, but as with the example before that, they start moving their eyes around to different parts of the bird when staring doesn't work, hoping to get a clear image, and only paying attention as a barely interested passenger in the constant movement. This is something people really only learn by misinterpreting the Bates method.
A blob of blur isn't very interesting, but when you look at it as many pieces making up the blur, you start to see things. It's much easier to pay attention to one thing at a time, meaning the smallest piece of detail you can imagine. Anything larger than that means paying attention to multiple things at once and puts your visual system under a strain that it can't handle. That's what "strain" really means, even though in the Bates method the word is often twisted to mean all kinds of abstract things that just confuse people. Strain is a situation where something is subjected to more stress than it can handle. Under strain, anything eventually fails.
So this was just something I was thinking about this morning. These blog posts are just my way of getting things out there until I put them together into a more organized and complete guide that will hopefully be of some use for guiding people through the vision improvement process from start to finish.
Re: The three steps of seeing - Nancy - 08-29-2011
Wow, do I feel busted! Thanks -- both of the 1st 2 wrong methods I have spent lots of time practicing, thinking I was helping myself, and getting very frustrated. This post is very helpful.
Re: The three steps of seeing - footballman - 08-30-2011
Nice post Dave. I went through the first 2 wrong ways quite a bit before your updated approach was introduced.
One interesting thing I did this evening, was while lying down on my bed, I looked up at the ceiling and began to look at the patterns rather than the whole white-ish blur. It's one of those ceiling wallpapers with lots of swirly patterns. So I just investigated the patterns a little bit, until I noticed that parts were darker and lighter..there was contrast where previously it had all seemed mostly white with smudges of greyer parts. This is something I used to like to do as a kid in my room on weekend mornings as well, so maybe people should give it a go! Note: I didn't need glasses when I was a kid.
From a personal point of view, it's great to see actual results, knowing it works, I also felt quite happy when the sight cleared. It's also not rocket science or something that requires a forceful approach.
Thanks again Dave, your method with respect to paying attention to details is spot on!
Re: The three steps of seeing - David - 08-30-2011
hammer, great! And notice that as soon as you change your attention to looking at the surface patterns, your vision is better. You might not notice any improvement in focus immediately, but your vision as a whole is better - you see a little more - just because of the way you're using it, and that instigates even further improvement because it's being used better.
I think I'm going to change step 3, "see", to "focus", and update the blog post. I think it's a little clearer that way, because to some extent "seeing" happens immediately, and I want to make it clear that focusing is something that you don't have conscious control over.
Also I'm moving away from recommending the eye chart. It stops being interesting really quickly. So lying down looking up at the ceiling and doing this is fine for variety. I'm gonna try to incorporate more photos and diagrams on the site. And that way I can give specific examples of how to approach looking at things in the picture.
Re: The three steps of seeing - Nini - 08-31-2011
David Wrote:Also I'm moving away from recommending the eye chart. It stops being interesting really quickly.
From my experience with the eye-chart I would say, that our eyes are so used to focus letters that they try to do so automatically when at least parts of a letter can be distnguished. To be 'too interested' is rather an obstacle - when I try too hard to get the blurry spots on the eye-chart clear, it won't workat all. When my attention becomes less and my thoughts start drifting away, then very often the letters start clearing up - then I can concentrate on the clear parts and the eyes start focussing.
But looking at other things as the eye-chart is very different; without really being interested all the smaller details won't be even noticed at all.
Re: The three steps of seeing - sorrisiblue - 08-31-2011
This post is great! You have formulated 'how not to see' really well. It seems like a common question about the Bates method is, how do I stop straining? or, what does it mean to strain to see? This post answers those questions really well. I agree that changing the step 3 word 'see' to 'focus' would be an improvement.
Re: The three steps of seeing - blwegrzyn - 09-01-2011
I hope I understand what you trying to say here.
Let's say I look at the digits 12345 that are next to each other.
So I look at 2 not as a whole but just top of it and I kind of scan the whole 2 slowly.
While I do that I notice 1 and 3 and quickly gO back to 2.
I never say to my eyes to focus but I kind of enjoy seeing 2.
Is my explanation any close to what you are trying to teach us here?
That's how I do it and I hope it is not wrong?
Re: The three steps of seeing - David - 09-01-2011
blwegrzyn Wrote:I hope I understand what you trying to say here.
That sounds fine, as far as it is.
To put it another way, it depends on what you're using as the starting point of seeing. Your starting point has to be "I want to see more." When your starting point is "I want better vision", you're being dishonest with yourself about what you're doing, faking interest. Find a way to be interested.
What I mean by "starting point" is your initial reason, or intention, for doing what you're doing. It's the first thought that you have that is driving your action. It starts as an idea, but it turns into a literal "starting point" of detail in the first thing you look at.
When you look from one (clear or blurry) detail to another, consider: Why did you do that? Did you do it because you were thinking of this point an instant before looking at it, or did you do it because you're moving your eyes around trying to improve your vision?
It's fine to have an ulterior motive of improving vision, as that's what this is all about, but in the moment, as you look at things, you have to let that go and have interest as your starting point so that interest drives what you're doing. When you really "take in" what you're seeing and treat every moment as a success in seeing everything you're seeing, your brain will process the data more fully and become capable of perceiving the image better and getting the eyes to focus better.
It's all about adjusting to the way that people with normal vision see. If you're doing something in your process of looking that people with normal vision don't do, then it isn't going to work for you either. Everything I've written recently is with that in mind.
Re: The three steps of seeing - blwegrzyn - 09-02-2011
Well put, but at the same time extremely hard to follow.
For me it simply means:"stop trying to see and you will see"
I came to this point cause I neither wanted to see clear or more, but I wanted to see the way I saw stuff before I noticed the stuff got blurry.
So I just want to see as I was young.
I don't know if it is more or better.
Keeping above in mind i am trying to apply some techniques described in this forum to see how I want to see. It is hard to don't think if it is blurry or not, in focus or not, sharp or not. The mind just thinks about that stuff especially when you try to see in different way and change your habits.
When I look at letters I want to feel no tension and enjoy the text byitself. Once I start noticing blur this is when all gets back to old habits and I start to strain again. But how you can enjoy the blurry text if this is what you see in the beginning.
Re: The three steps of seeing - David - 09-02-2011
blwegrzyn Wrote:Well put, but at the same time extremely hard to follow.
There's more to it than that. The phrase "trying to see" is vague and is interpreted many different ways. It sounds nice, but it has no real meaning because there's nothing specific about it that tells people what to do. There are a few things that people need to do, and it just can't be broken down to one phrase, if that's what you're trying to do.
blwegrzyn Wrote:I came to this point cause I neither wanted to see clear or more, but I wanted to see the way I saw stuff before I noticed the stuff got blurry.
I'm talking about in the moment, as you look at something. Obviously you want to have better vision, but if that's what you think about when you're looking at something, you probably disregarding what you're seeing because it isn't clear, as if you're refusing to really look at and take in what you're seeing unless it's perfectly focused. Or in other words, you consider your vision useless for looking at anything closely because it isn't perfect.
blwegrzyn Wrote:Keeping above in mind i am trying to apply some techniques described in this forum to see how I want to see. It is hard to don't think if it is blurry or not, in focus or not, sharp or not. The mind just thinks about that stuff especially when you try to see in different way and change your habits.
It's not about ignoring whether it's blurry. It's about looking at what you see despite the fact that it's blurry.
blwegrzyn Wrote:When I look at letters I want to feel no tension and enjoy the text byitself. Once I start noticing blur this is when all gets back to old habits and I start to strain again. But how you can enjoy the blurry text if this is what you see in the beginning.
You "enjoy" something that you're used to doing. When you practice it right, it should be unsettling for a while, because you don't get to hang onto your old safe pattern.
Re: The three steps of seeing - blwegrzyn - 09-02-2011
The more I participate in this forum and ask the less I understand.
I wish that there would be a simple way of understanding all of this.
While I was browsing through your old blog entries I looked at the wall at my wife's wedding photo.
I was able to see her laying on the bed, almost everything, but blurry.
But it was not that important, cause I realized that I wanted to see her eyes, and then it hit me.
I want to see more even with blur.
Re: The three steps of seeing - Pikachu - 09-02-2011
@blwegrzyn: Not sure if it's much consolation, but I get that feeling all the time. In trying to answer my own questions, I get tangled in a web of confusion. If you feel that asking questions just leads to more confusion, it might help to stop asking questions and start doing something.
An example from my own experiences: I want to shift, but my questions get in the way, so I just push them away one by one.
Q: How do I shift?
A: It doesn't matter. Just shift.
Q: What should I think?
A: Whatever you want to think.
Q: What should I notice?
A: Don't worry about it. Just shift...
What I find is that one of the key reasons I don't get much benefit from exercises is because I worry too much about doing them perfectly. And sometimes, my mind wanders and starts thinking about other things (what I ate for breakfast, what I'll do later in the day, how I could resolve a dilemma). This is not "being in the moment" and when I think about those things, I am not practicing good habits! So, I find it helps to sort of "clear" the mind and just shift, palm, swing, or whatever it may be. I figure that if I clear my mind and make an earnest attempt to relax my eyes and do what the exercise requires, things will take care of themselves.
Try it out and see if it helps you. Don't get too caught up in how everything works. I've done that for well over a year and it hasn't done me a bit of good. Others have done exercises without devoting a moment's thought to how they work, and yet, they've improved. Theorizing and thinking are nice, but if you can't shut down your mind when you're trying to relax, you won't get very far.
Re: The three steps of seeing - blwegrzyn - 09-04-2011
Agreed, too much thinking causes more confusion.
I will just try to follow Dave posts and see how this works.
My thought process was to make sure I don't start bad habits right away, so after one year I discover that all I did was wrong.
conscious act of focusing - lakeivan - 02-07-2012
A wonderful post. I agree with everything you say, except for one point: the notion that there is nothing you can consciously do to improve the focus of an image.
This is perfectly true, but only if you understand it to mean "there is no action you can take, there is no physical effort you can make, which will make an image less blurry." This is an important point, because I always try to remember that there is nothing I can do, muscularly speaking, that will unblur an image.
However, I personally find it important to be aware that there is something I can consciously do which improves the focus of what I am looking at: if I relax the right muscles, the focus of the image always improves, usually within 3 seconds. In particular, if I consciously relax all of my facial muscles, most definitely including the "Magic Release Spot" (the top of the bridge of the nose, where most people who wear glasses have their glasses resting on their noses), the focus of what I am looking at always improves. I do this hundreds of times a day, and I've been doing it for over ten years, so I know it always works.
For me, the importance of what David is teaching is that my ability to unblur an image by consciously releasing my muscles has absolutely no lasting value to me, unless I also train myself to follow his advice, to Pay Attention, and to let my visual curiosity drive my vision so that I am constantly exploring as many tiny details of the image as possible. It will do me no good to be able to improve the focus of the image by releasing my muscles, because my unhelpful visual habits will simply lead me to tighten them up again the next moment. Whereas if I follow David's advice, my good visual habits will enable me to continually leave my muscles relaxed, and therefore to continually see better and better.
In practice, all of these ideas become integrated into one action. I follow David's advice, and I scan the photo of the flamingos, allowing my curiosity to drive me, by constantly asking myself âWhatâs next to this? And whatâs next to this?â As I do this, the action of "really examining each detail" is (physically speaking) exactly the same as the action "releasing the Magic Release Spot." The fact that I have trained myself to feel this spot and these muscles, and that I know how to consciously release them and instantly unblur the image, helps make David's technique more useable and enjoyable, because when I arouse my curiousity about each new visual detail, I actually know what to do in order to be able to see it clearly. I have the immediate satisfaction of actually having a clearer image, with more visual information in it, and this stimulates me to keep examining more and more of the details.
So it does end up being important to me to know that I can consciously do something which will improve the focus.