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Who is your guru?
#1
Who is your guru?
http//blog.iblindness.org/2012-01/vision-guru/

I want to make a point about following a method of vision improvement to the letter, and trusting that any one person, or even a group of people saying the same thing, have it right.

There's this guy Hira Ratan Manek, going by HRM, who for years claimed (and maybe does again) to be able to live without food due to his sungazing practices. He's got a method where you gradually adapt yourself to sungazing. The guy was outed at one point by someone catching him chowing down at a restaurant near a place he was speaking at about his fasting, and he came out and admitted it. And there seems to be nobody substantiating other things he has said, but the last time I looked into it was years ago. That being said, there's also no evidence that sungazing for short periods of time in the morning or evening is harmful, even if it dazzles your vision for a minute.

I guess what I'm saying is people have a tendency to drop one doctrine for another, like dropping conventional views on eyesight to follow Dr. Bates's words to the letter, or some modern person who has written a book or teaches classes. There certainly are people you can learn a lot from, but I wish people would hold back and be skeptical about everything, no matter which side of an issue it's on, instead of deciding, "Wow that sounds so right, I'm going to believe everything else this guy says."  Why this need to jump on a boat?

So when you read or hear or consider any little idea about vision or vision improvement, try to consider how it could be right or wrong, and how to test a specific point as well as you can. It's not hard. You don't need a lab. It just takes some self-honesty about what you really know and what you're just going to believe because it's easier. There are so few people out there who look at issues with this level of skepticism and self-honesty, so yes, unfortunately you probably do need to test everything yourself in the small world of natural vision improvement unless humans can get to a point where they can be trusted to look at issues objectively.

It does take longer to learn anything this way, but really you're not learning anything when you just latch onto bogus information.

I bring this up because there are a number of things in Dr. Bates's material that is either wrong or misleading. No disrespect to him - all geniuses are wrong about some things, and he made huge contributions to changing the way we look at vision. But unfortunately some folks who want to improve their vision put a lot of energy into reading and understanding what Bates said and in the process they accept it all as the whole truth, as if the entire truth about obtaining and maintaining good vision is in Bates's material. For a small number of people it seems to be enough. For most, however, it isn't, and they stagnate with a handful of those old ideas that are not working for them or are not specific enough to be have practical value. Even if you take everything Bates wrote at face value, there is far too much guesswork in the specifics that you are forced to do. So what happens is different people come up with countless different interpretations of how Bates's ideas or instructions should be applied, and what's the most important part.

I have written in past posts about the specifics of shifting your eyes and what is really involved in doing so and what kind of pattern you follow, including suggestions about timing and distance of shifts. And there's a lot more to say. And I'm not necessarily right about everything. But I hope I have gotten a few people to open their eyes to the fact that issues like this are just not being addressed in enough detail to make it completely clear how you have to use your eyes in all aspects to result in better and better vision, so what you have instead are very vague instructions that can be followed easily enough but which you can sabotage in so many ways that aren't being addressed. I don't know if anyone out there teaching vision improvement is addressing issues like this. And it isn't easy to figure out, because we all do things right, whether it's vision-related or with other parts of our body, that we aren't conscious of, but ironing out the specifics of this is possible and has to be done.

As it is now, people migrate to whatever specific method most interests them, such as palming, and this is almost always based on the fact that they find the method simple and easy to understand. This also means that it's pretty much worthless the way they're doing it, because when it's easy to do  and they don't struggle with confusion about it then they aren't learning anything! So people get stuck in whatever feels nice or feels as if they're doing something or is easy to do while thinking about their day, which isn't much better for their vision than wearing glasses and forgetting the whole thing. Real vision improvement is uncomfortable, because it forces some level of disruption in your programming/personality, because it has to do with the way you interact with the world in every moment. So people avoid what ever is uncomfortable or confusing in how they use their eyes, justifying their actions with the idea of "relaxation" being the key to good vision, implying that anything that feels bad or disruptive is "strain". And they cling to vague ideas or broad principles that are not specific, or in other words they're <strong>blurry</strong>. And they won't let go of those comfortable, soft, blurry ideas. So consider that your own avoidance of brutally examining issues in this amount of detail reflects the way your use your eyes in not understanding the necessity of literally looking with your eyes at small enough details in order to really see anything clearly.
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"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
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#2
David

Great post and thanks again for sticking with it (and us).

I was thinking about this whole issue in the wider sense latelly. I started reading Naomi Kelin's Shock Doctrine. It's good but I had a feeling it was too glib, too neat and looked for criticism and found an excellent review by Johnathan Chait of the New Republic that gives a different perspective and you see what was merely superficially plausible in the book. Also, an excellent site for scepticism in general is that of the late Richard Webster.

As you say, even a genius like Bates obviously was can't get everything else right, at least in the way he wrote it down. I'm impressed with your own insight and judgement, but even there I've always assumed that you're probably no more than 90% right (at a guess) and I've often wondered what the 10% would be that you're mistaken about, or haven't described clearly enough, or have missed out. Smile Really, if you're 90% that's amazingly good!

I mentioned before that I am interested in dancing and learning good steps (footwork). When you see a good dancer you only get a few seconds to see what they are actually doing with the feet. You can ask them to break it down for you and a few might even agree, but then they can't do it (even if they want to). But then recently I realized that there are some bits of video out there that are useful and when I spent time studying them, just a few minutes at a time (or it would wear you out) I found I learned a great deal, and cracked a few things that had been a mystery to me, or which I thought I might have been right about all along but needed the confirmation. It was only a hobby, but I think I'd reached the stage where it might be nearly impossible to do this. The real interest in the end became, instead of learning the steps, to find out whether it was possible to do this on your own. And it was possible, it was just difficult and required a few minutes of intense concentration over a number of days. I broke it down, bar by bar, step by step, narrowing it down to a small no. of possible combinations of movements and then reaching the best one by practice. Count the bars, watch which foot is hitting the floor at each point in the bar, check it again and again. Take a break. Come back to it the next day, take another dancer, work out exactly what they are doing until you know what they are doing all the way through, without any doubt left in your mind. If it's not clear after a few goes, try to see it in perhaps a different way. It's interesting how much more you actually see at the end of the process than when you began. I don't know if anyone else has done this with success. Not many I'd guess.

As for vision, I get the impression that people do well and then either can't go any further or slide back and go away. But couldn't this be when feedback can be really valuable?

I agree wholeheartedly about the need to break down all the elements and iron it all out so there is no room left for misunderstanding. Like the dancing I believe you when you say that it is possible. Absolutely.

I'm wondering if perhaps a bit more attention could be given to one's approach to seeing. Like, when you sit down in front of the chart and start to look for detail what is your understanding of what you are about to do? You know, it being the case that vision is not just mechanics but attention is so important. And how it is that just a certain attitude, or feeling can trigger better vision. I remember Sorrisi posting here a long time ago and Otto thanking her as just reading her post had cleared his vision (happened to me too). What hit me in your last post was that there was no reason why I'd ever need to stop looking for detail at any time as there's always something big enough to fall back onto and then you can just zoom in again from there. I experienced this as a surge of relief, or permission to just get on with it.

This is how my 'vision diary' which you mentioned a few weeks ago has evolved by trying to analyze how I've been understanding seeing over the period since:

Action Plan
look at triangles as per Dave’s blog post
Remove all trace of strain, especially when vision clearing as this undoes all the good work – this is the job of work to be done so should not be self-indulgent
if vision jumps around don’t try to control let, just let it be and follow it
breathe slowly, pause at end of out-breath (and perhaps in-breath)
expect and want to see what I am looking at
I mean business, this is job of work
normal blinking only, even if eyes tingle
when I get restless and tired of the exercise probe the feelings that are attached to that sensation
get good light/ close-up, at least to get it started
examine feeling of wanting to get back to normal afterwards, that sense of relief – what is is saying?
This is how I see all the time, ie one tiny bit at a time.
No effort at all – just accept and work with what is there, so absolutely no effort

The idea of expecting it to work (as a person with normal vision would) and that this is the way I see all the time (ditto) is getting more important for me. And the last one on the list (no effort), which I've read about from the start, seems to come into its own finally, in this context which I have been building up. Because then, when you know it can be done you then fall back on the old habit of reaching out to read the letter and even just a tiny inclination to do this seems to be enough to prevent clearing. The idea that I am aiming to just notice that I can see two points close enough together to be able to see them at one time as being separate, rather than trying (ie straining) to see them separately, seems to be the way out of this problem.

Finally, and to end this long post, I had also been trying to do this from the other end, by affirming that 'this is how I see' in my daily life. (And it has to come to this one way or another in the end doesn't it?) Of course, it sounds simple and I suppose it is simple but it's hard. A few times I have managed to sustain what I think of as a 'golden thread' of not ceasing to actually look at something and not taking the easy option of retiring into my own thoughts. As I understand you, you are advocating learning how to look for detail on the chart and then, when one has got the hang of this, to then start to apply that throughout the day, probably at various points in the day as a starter. This last approach I mention ('golden thread') seems to be starting from 'the real world' instead. I want to try it more but it's hard to manage. That's why I referred to the 'slimming club' in a previous post. The theory of slimming (eat less and exercise) is very clear but people still don't find it easy, and as you say (and I agree) vision problems are an attention deficit disorder. With this approach it's very useful to see the kind of things that trigger a break in the golden thread, the kinds of activities that generate a strain that breaks it. And you feel how it's so different when the 'thread' of sustained attention is there and when it's not. Then you have to start again, but of course it's easier to just think about it, or something else, etc... Smile If I knew someone else was going to try to do the same thing, and maybe sustain it for an hour or two over the weekend (which I'm going to try again tomorrow and Sunday) it would be an encouragement.
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#3
David and Sean, thanks for your thoughts. There are lots of helpful nuggets for me in both posts. I'm realizing I have to "be awake" (paying attention) all the time my eyes are open if I want to see clearly and think clearly, and, a big insight, it doesn't have to be a big strain and struggle, waiting impatiently until I can get off-stage and rest and stop seeing and relax. I can relax while I'm present! Who knew? I'm not there all the time yet, hardly! But I am seeing bigger chunks of time when I can sustain it. It's not tiring, enlivening actually, but I fall out of it because it's so different from what I'm used to. I'm hoping the momentum of doing this more and more often will push me over the hump and eventually it will be my New Normal.
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#4
Regarding being present, I have discovered theory about so called "flow state" (up-time also) which indicates being totally focused and concentrated on something you actually do. This state is used for example (often unconciously) by athletes. Also all of you could experienced it somehow.
Characteristics of this state:
1. goals are clear.
2. feedback is immediate.
3. a balance between opportunity and capacity.
4. concentration deepens.
5. the present is what matters.
6. control is no problem.
7. the sense of time is altered.
8. the loss of ego.

So why not use it while practicing shifting or just catching all details you can? Imagine turning off your whole inner-voice, imagine being totally focused, motivated, don't thinking about past or future, the only thing which exists is present. Maybe all myopes could stop thinking about seeing and just start to do it?

detailed info: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_%28psychology%29">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_%28psychology%29</a><!-- m -->

I like one quote from this article:
"I was already on pole, [...] and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my team mate with the same car. And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel."

Instinct of seeing? I think this makes sense...
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#5
I totally agree.
I hate doing something just for the sake of doing it.
I must see it working somehow or I quit!!!
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#6
My impression is that everybody is not doing exactly the same mistakes; that's the main reason why some theories may be extremely helpful to some people and others won't profit at all.

There are things which we instinctively do the right way and which seem so obvious to us that don't bother even to mention it (most probably we are not even aware of it) when we explain to others what we are doing. But just the lack of this little bit of information may be the reason why others won't have the same success when they are trying to do exactly the same thing.
And sometimes, after more experience of their own and more understanding, when they try it again, it works.

There are so many factors which can prevent good vision and even if we do almost everything right, one small point can block the the whole process.
Sometimes, when I am really relaxed, my vision becomes so good, that I don't have to do anything to 'direct' my eyes; almost the whole eye chart clears up - at least till the 20/40 line and parts of the 2 lines below. Or when I am cycling in the fields I often have long clear flashes almost continuously, even in cloudy, dark weather. My eyes just do the right things instinctively, I only have to 'follow' them as they 'do their job' and enjoy the good feeling and clear sight.

Then there are other days, when I really have to struggle for clearness, everything is blurry and my eyes don't seem to be able to focus correctly. Then, looking at small points and shifting (in triangles or other forms) usually helps, sometimes I need a lot of hard concentration, palming, acupressure and other relaxation techniques.

And there are very few times, when my eyes are so tired (or maybe I am too stressed or absent-minded), that no technique can lead me anywhere and the more I try, the more my eyes get strained and vision gets worse. Then I stop the training and give my eyes the time they need to recover...
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#7
Nini

I agree that there are some things that we do that are so obvious that we don't mention them. You get that when you ask for directions, for example. ("What. you turned into that little lane? Why on earth did you do that? When I said 'take the first right turn' I meant of course at the next junction...") I have found with a few people that the very idea of giving directions is so difficult that you can see the pain on their face!

Unlike you my guess is that we are making similar mistakes - but it's just a hunch. But if I'm right it should make David's task easier in nailing down a practical method.

On the wider issue of following a guru, when I first got a clear flash, after a long wait and it was probably the clearest I ever got, it was from just sitting in front of the chart and letting go of every conceivable muscle in my body (and mind) and waiting - it was like waking from a long dream. But this seemed against what Bates taught. For one thing, my eyes felt physically very uncomfortable (not an ache but a smarting on the surface) when I had the idea it was all perfectly comfortable etc. For another I had the idea that you couldn't feel any change - all this perfect relaxation stuff again. So was I deluded? Well, I know what I saw so that was that, but it did create some doubts, and neither did it seem as if it would get a good reception here as one or two posters seemed to regard Bates' book as a kind of bible.

And to take another example, that of the obvious factor played by what David calls our 'programming' or ingrained habits. I can confirm that, but I don't see anything in Bates' book about that (perhaps the mags?) - someone correct me if I am mistaken. He refers at one point to a patient getting over-excited when his vision cleared up (in the chapter about memory or the one about imagination), and another case where someone exclaimed "I can't help but see!"

But then you have to balance that against his wide experience and evident deep knowledge of the subject. If instructions are provided (eg triangle method) any lingering doubts can be used as an excuse not to execute them properly. I've noticed this in myself.

But again on the other hand if you have doubts about your 'guru' this might undermine your belief in your own approach.

It is also possible that this will lead you to an approach where you think you know more than the experts. Which, when you stand back and look at it, is absurd - but I've heard stories here about that happening and people only making progress when they finally submitted to (Bates') directions. But that's only hearsay.

But then again a definite disadvantage about following a guru is for thngs to become 'mystified'. Some kind of magic is involved. This is handy for absolving yourself of any responsibility for making any progress and when none is made (which it won't if it's out of your hands) then you can blame the guru.

From the above the best approach seems to me to follow the experts' directions but to reserve final judgement to yourself. And to look at it as a very practical matter without any mystification.
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#8
Sean,
Bates wrote about "wrong thoughts" like having to strain to see, but it does seem his writing is more about what to *do* than what to think or even more, what to feel. Emotions play a huge part in my own vision, although I know this isn't true for everyone. Bates did write in BEM about a child having trouble seeing the chart when his strict teacher said something like "Mind what you are doing; make sure you get it right!". Then Bates sent the teacher farther away and the child read the entire chart perfectly. He also wrote about being "nervous" getting in the way of seeing clearly, either with the patient's own vision or a child being affected by the nervousness of his mother. From my own experience, this nervousness is anxiety or low-level fear (and sometimes not so low!). It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that my seeing well is tightly tied to my feeling safe, and that staying grounded is essential.
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#9
Hi Nancy

Now you mention it I think these deep feelings are at the root of what we might call our set of habits or programming. This probably accounts for the difficulty in changing it, although it might also offer another avenue for dealing with them (?). I remember about 18 months ago posting here (under 'visualization' - I meant 'imagination') where I'd been getting great results with imagination and then found it hard to do. When I pushed at it I encountered all these deep negative feelings which I hadn't been aware of and a great reluctance to engage. It was good though because it was real.

When David started giving directions on his own particular method (looking at the detail essentially) shortly afterwards and I decided, Right, I'm just going to look at small stuff, and had set the following day to start, I felt anxious, which surprised me. It was a bit like waiting to go into the dentist.

I mentioned imagination just now. When I imagined something in another place and with my eyes open, say over a sign outside my window, I was getting great clearing of vision. But then if I looked at myself in the mirror and did the same it never quite cleared fully, although I used to feel this strong tugging sensation on my eyes (like magnetism), so for sure at some level I was seeing myself clearly. It still happens whenever I try it.

Anyhow, it's Friday afternoon now and I'm going to embark on an audacious attempt to repeat my earlier experiences of not not-looking at anything for a couple of hours at least (see how long I can keep it up withoug my attention being broken and diving back into my thoughts)!
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#10
sean Wrote:when I first got a clear flash, after a long wait and it was probably the clearest I ever got, it was from just sitting in front of the chart and letting go of every conceivable muscle in my body (and mind) and waiting - it was like waking from a long dream. But this seemed against what Bates taught. For one thing, my eyes felt physically very uncomfortable (not an ache but a smarting on the surface) when I had the idea it was all perfectly comfortable etc. For another I had the idea that you couldn't feel any change - all this perfect relaxation stuff again. So was I deluded?

Hi Sean,

Maybe not. Bates didn't discuss it very much, but he made a very clear statement in his book (Chapt. XI) when discussing eccentric fixation : "The discomfort and pain may be absent, however, in the chronic condition, and it is an encouraging symptom when the patient begins to experience them."

I have read of many similar experiences from people when they first start getting serious clear flashes - that there is often all sorts of accompanying aches and pains. The cornea itself has the highest density of nerves in the whole body, so it isn't surprising that any change whatsoever in the shape of it, after years of chronically being held in some odd shape, is going to wake up and shake up all those nerve endings. I've found that, along with vision improvement comes a much heightened sensitivity of the eyes. As much as I would like to go back to the old way of not feeling much of anything, I'll take it as a good sign of a healthier functioning visual system. I doubt Bates would disagree.
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#11
Hi David,
I think you make some very important points here. In our vision improvement work I teach that people can do the activities that they like the most, most of the time. But its the vision activities that they find hard to grasp, uncomfortable to do, and may actually dislike, that are probably the ones that they need the most. These are the activities that most challenge their ingrained visual and emotional habits.

Students often get the most amazing breakthroughs after struggling with and moving through their resistance to a particular idea or activity.

And since working through our emotional blocks is one of the most important factors in long lasting vision improvement, and its one of the most difficult tasks for us to do in our lives, of course we want to do what's easy, and lose out on the rewards of doing the hard stuff.

I agree with Nini, that different people may have to come at things from different directions, and with different timing in their lives. This is one of the things that makes applying a simple programme of vision improvement so difficult without some input from a person with experience to help offer perspective and support.
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#12
When I first started writing about Eyesight Improvement, even though I was trained not to teach the activities as repetitive 'eye exercises', I still had trouble staying away from the shifting part to part on a object and similar type activities. After studying Davids posts, articles on iblindness.org I am learning more how the brain, eyes and relaxation work together and how to describe this to people. Basic shifting practice is very good to get the eyes moving, back to normal function, but constant conscious practice of shifting, especially in a specific pattern is not completely normal eye function. People with clear eyesight, normally functioning eyes do not practice shifting. Their eyes shift normally, on their own, a subconscious function like the heart beats, lungs breathe... by them-self, without conscious direction.
As David describes; the eyes will move point to point on their own. Dr. Bates Relaxation and other techniques gets the eyes to do this on their own.
Shifting as a good habit to avoid staring, if staring occurs is ok, but I find my vision is super clear later, after occasional 'practice time', when I relax, forget about my eyes. If I catch myself staring, staring, using effort to see a object; I know what to do; shift, blink, breath, relax.
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#13
Trying to weed through so many different methods, teachers causes stress and that leads to lowered vision. If something works, no harmful side effects; stay with it.
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#14
Agreed, but the hardest part is to find that something.
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#15
Hi Clarknight,

To echo Blwegrzyn, it would be helpful to have specific information. As you seem to me to have very good vision but just need to attend to it now and again I'd be grateful if you could answer the following questions as specifically as you can.

1 When you find youreself in a situation where your eyesight is blurred or impaired is this accompanied by a feeling of having got lost in your thoughts? Or a change of mood or attitude to things in general?

2 To return to clear vision do you feel a sense that you don't have to do anything, that there are no tasks involved, either in terms of vision or just life and things in general?

3 When you shift do you look at the letters (or whatever you are looking at) in a particular way? Is it accompanied by thinking less about other things, is your attention focused on what you are looking at to the exclusion of other thoughts, or do your thoughts continue in their normal course while a separate part of your mind is involved in the looking. (I ask this as i am trying to clarify for myself whether by putting too much attention into looking at what you are looking at leads to a subtle conviction that your mind has to engage in vision actively rather than just noticing and directing the attention and by this interference disrupts the process.)

4 When you find your vision has got worse is this accompanied by certain kinds of thoughts? Of feelings? And are these vision-related or general?

5 When you see clearly does the feeling of no effort accompany it?

6 When you see clearly is it in a matter of fact way. It's not that you are doing something different, just that you have stopped doing something you were already doing?

7 Do you experience release of strain? If so what does that feel like?

8 When returning to clarity do you feel a difference in your use of memory or imagination, either to get to that state or to stay there?

9 Do you ever experience any anxiety about your ability to return to clear vision? If so, how does this affect matters?

10 Do you ever experience a reluctance to return to clarity? If so how does this show itself?

I'd be grateful if anyone else with good vision in general could give specific feedback.
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