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breakthroughs
#31
Hi Sean,

As a newbie starting out, I think the most difficult part for me is that there is so much information and so many things to re-learn that it can be overwhelming at times. Could you perhaps share with us, step-by-step how you got started? For me, to re-learn to blink, breathe, shift and recognizing oppositional movement at the same time is pretty confusing, so it'll be pretty helpful if there's any recommendation on how to get started.
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#32
Marlene, yes. It's been hard for me not to get caught up in the details: am I blinking enough? Oh, no, I'm forgetting to be aware of the periphery! Drat, I'm not breathing! Etc. I'm now focusing on having a relaxed body and mind first before I practice with the chart, then just looking and noticing what my eyes and face and body are doing, and gently correcting that where I can, then noticing the results. I feel like I'm learning a new language which is all around me and many people are fluent in, but if I jump from one book to another and one teacher to another, I'll quickly get overwhelmed and make no progress at all, plus get frustrated and discouraged. So I've done lots of studying, and now I'm ready for "independent study", learning about ME and how *I* use my eyes, while continuing to stay aware of what the experts (like David) say, without getting obsessed with that or spending huge amounts of time on it. You are your best teacher, and if you get quiet and stay aware, you'll realize what you need to do and whether you're making progress.
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#33
Nancy Wrote:So I've done lots of studying, and now I'm ready for "independent study", learning about ME and how *I* use my eyes, while continuing to stay aware of what the experts (like David) say, without getting obsessed with that or spending huge amounts of time on it. You are your best teacher, and if you get quiet and stay aware, you'll realize what you need to do and whether you're making progress.

I agree, and I'll make sure to keep that in mind when I get too obssessed with the details ( of trying too hard to go by the book ).
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#34
WHEN SHIFTING DOES NOT WORK, PAY SOME ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU'RE DOING WITH THE REST OF YOUR BODY

Here's a realization that has been a very important breakthrough for
me that has sped up my progress significantly. Hopefully people that are actually reading and trying others' suggestions--as opposed to posting panicky posts about "does this work?" or "does that work?"-- may also find this as useful as I have.

Through experimentation, I have found that tension around the eyes is somehow linked to tension elsewhere in the body. It is impossible to let go of tension in the eyes while at the same time holding onto
unnecessary tension elsewhere in the body. This explains why no amount of shifting practice benefits the vision when we are holding our breath "in order to concentrate," not blinking, or otherwise straining elsewhere in our bodies. But the importance of this link has been underemphasized, and it goes beyond simply remembering to breathe and blink.

I am not exactly clear on the mechanics of the link. But here are two demonstrations to help you notice directly the link between strain in the eyes and strain elsewhere. You'll need some uninterrupted time to yourself for these demonstrations, and you may need to do these demonstrations repeatedly over several days or weeks, because you gain more insight with repetition.

1. Breathe in your regular way WITHOUT TRYING TO CHANGE HOW YOU BREATHE. Simply NOTICE how you breathe: notice how various internal body parts move as you inhale and exhale, and notice how any tensions and feelings change as you inhale and exhale. In time, you'll notice that the tension around your eyeballs in some way or other changes state as you inhale and exhale.

2. If you press on certain body parts, you can feel a change in state in the tension around your eyes. For example, try pressing on the back of the middle joint of your thumb, or the sides of that same joint. Also try pressing on your front of your hips, near where your thigh would enter your body if you lifted your leg. If you are very attentive, you'll notice that pressing on either of these points causes a movement around your eyes. Experiment around with pressing different parts of the body. (I'm not talking about doing acupressure, though there may be a relation to why acupressure seems to benefit some people. The purpose of this demonstration is merely to bring about awareness of the link)

After building awareness of the link between tension in the eyes and
tensions elsewhere, the next step is to incorporate this awareness
into shifting practice.

TRY THIS: The way Bates teaches shifting is to shift your attention
from point to point. There is no reason why this shifting of attention has to be limited to visual points. What I do is I shift my attention among visual points (making sure that I am merely shifting
my ATTENTION and not trying to move my eyes around) IN ADDITION TO shifting among feelings in specific body parts.

For example, I put my attention on a point A in space. Then I put my
attention on the feeling in my left thumb. Then I put my attention on
a point B in space. Then I put my attention on the feeling in my
right hip. Then I put my attention on a point C in space. Then I put
my attention on the muscles below my left collarbone, and so on. (VERY IMPORTANT ASIDE: when I put my attention on a body part, I only THINK about it. Initially, you'll be tempted to do something with your eyes when you think about a certain body part. Resist this temptation.)

What this accomplishes is that it makes you notice how you strain other parts of your body as you shift. By noticing this link and putting your attention on it, at some point, somehow, this strain will
lessen or go away.

WEIRD PHENOMENON:
An interesting phenomenon is that when you are shifting attention both among points in visual space and among various feelings and tensions inside your body, eventually you'll notice that that as you shift your visual attention, you'll have a feeling of strings pulling on various parts of the body. This is a very odd sensation, as it feels like somebody else is pulling these strings.

The first time I noticed this was when I was doing the variable swing, as described by Bates (holding a finger six inches from the face, off to the side, and noticing the finger moving faster than the background as I swung my head left and right). It actually feels like as you swing your visual attention, there is a string tugging and pushing on the finger. And somehow noticing this tugging and pushing feeling in the finger improves the efficacy of the swing. I'm not sure why, but I suspect that being able to notice this tugging and pushing feeling is evidence that you are doing the swing correctly, just as noticing the oppositional movement is also evidence that you are doing the swing correctly. And as we all know, Bates's methods work not because they directly cause our eyes to become more relaxed, but they give us something that is impossible to do (e.g., noticing oppositional movement) unless we are doing them without adding strain, and thus serve as a feedback mechanism.
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