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What could be there?
What could be there?


<a href="http//"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-266" title="park scene" src="http//" alt="" width="640" height="480" /></a>

One of the first things you might notice in this picture is the man painting. Your attention moves to him. It doesn't matter whether your attention was "drawn" to him or you were just glancing around the picture to find something worth looking at. You don't notice only the fact he's painting, but what he's painting. It appears to be the scene in front of him.

So in the man's painting, what details can you at least partially see? It's important to note that it counts even if you just partially see something, or if you have a guess as to what might be there. People with blurry vision tend to glance at it and move on, studying it no further, and doing the same thing with pretty much anything else they look at. This is a huge mistake. There are at least a few possible reasons you do this
<li>It seems like too much trouble for you to spend time on looking at details when you don't expect to be able to see anything more by studying it for more than a glance. You have given up, because you've failed so many times. It's hopeless.</li>
<li>You have studied things in detail at other times and find that it's uncomfortable to stare at a small thing, so you have a habit of avoiding it.</li>
<li>You are avoiding the perception of clearer, smaller details because that kind of perception is too intense. You aren't used to the sensation of your brain and visual system working hard, but correctly, and you feel overwhelmed when they begins to do so. It's a bit different than when you wear glasses, because glasses provide artificially clear vision without your visual system having to do very much right (and the consequence of that is almost always worse and worse vision).</li>
<li>You are anxious about looking at one area for too long. This might be complex. You might be afraid that you'll miss something important. This may be due to a past situation where you are repeatedly surprised from the side, or where it was important for you to notice things going on all around you, and you adapted by trying to move your eyes too frequently. Situations might include a combat zone, a sports game, driving a car, or even just having blurry vision and looking around a lot to try to compensate for your bad vision. This can also be more consciously (but wrongly) developed in the belief that better vision requires that you move your eyes around more.</li>
The first reason, that it's hopeless, is something you need to intellectually overcome by means of practicing the right way to do it, which is what I really want to talk about. The second reason, that it's uncomfortable, is because you're not doing it right. The third reason, that it's too intense, is overcome with time. The fourth reason, that you're anxious about missing something, is out of the scope of this posting, but it's worth thinking about and can also be the reason you fix your eyes in a stare to try to see everyone at once instead of moving your eyes to specific details.

I guess I just wanted to go over the above reasons behind what you're doing, because it's important to be able to be aware of what you're doing, and your reasons behind it, while you're working to adjust your pattern of looking.

So when you attempt to study an object in smaller detail than you are able to immediately perceive, it appears to be blurry. You can't just let it go. You have to take control of your visual system by enforcing your will. Speaking affirmations in that respect helps align conflicting parts of yourself to your purpose. But your brain / visual system doesn't directly hear such an order of "I want to see!" and respond. The language your brain understands and responds to is your mental refusal to accept the result that your brain is providing. It's the same as telling an employee who has presented a poorly organized, incomplete report to you, "Tell me more. What about this? What are the possibilities?" You are requiring it to dig deeper and work harder in order to serve you to the best of its ability. As you perceive blur at a certain level of detail and can seemingly go no further, you have to guess what might be there. Is there any black? Any purple? Any green? What could the speck of white be? Look at the man's painting in the portion of the picture below and consider such questions.

<a href="http//"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-269" title="artist painting" src="http//" alt="" width="199" height="196" /></a>

Notice what happened as you did it. Your gaze moved around the painting in a search. You were looking around to find such colors and make at least a little bit of sense out of it and actively engage yourself in perceiving, instead of just accepting the image your brain gave you and not considering what it isn't giving you. You became interested. That's what it takes.

Look again. Do you see the grey button on the man's hat? Look carefully, without leaning closer.

If you didn't, that's because there isn't one. But what did you see? You suddenly noticed the shades of darker colors on his hat as you searched for a spot of grey. You just improved your vision, because you saw something you didn't notice at first. Don't think of your quality of vision as just how blurry or sharp it is. Better vision is being able to see things you didn't notice before. So every time you notice something new, because you're looking directly at a new spot with curiosity of what else is there, you have improved your vision, and you should consider it another success. And your brain will respond, and your eyes will start to focus in response to your directing of your attention to smaller details.

So I hope I'm starting to make it clear that improving your vision is not a matter of doing certain things because you're forced to do them if you want to see, but a matter of changing the way you go about perceiving details so that better vision is a completely natural result.
Site Administrator

"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
David, your posts are getting better and better -- thank you. You wrote "You have studied things in detail at other times and find that it's uncomfortable to stare at a small thing, so you have a habit of avoiding it" and I wanted to explore "uncomfortable" a bit. The first thing that came up for me was the criticism "It's not polite to stare!", which hadn't really been staring on my part, just looking intently. It's all about awareness, once again, what I'm doing with my looking and what the thoughts are behind it, making the process more conscious. Thanks again.
Great post David Wink
I thing my vision is getting better just reading your posts. So do I understand it correctly that the most important thing is to be interested and want to see more and more details....and not to think about the way I´m shifting or if my eyes are moving or not and so on. I think when you are interested in things like I was when I was searching for a grey button correct shifting comes naturaly. And it doesnt matter if I´m shifting in a triangle or not.
Does it make sense? I just wanted to say that when I´m focusing on some pattern of shifting I´m not focusing on what I´m looking at.
minjja, you reminded me that when I looked for the gray button, my first thought was "Uh-oh, I probably won't be able to find it", which needs to be challenged. Why do I still have so little confidence in my vision? Then when I searched a bit without leaning forward and couldn't find it, I did not get upset at my "failure", just gave up and said "Oh, well, it wasn't meant to be" and kept reading. This tells me I am not as tense in my looking as I used to be, always anxious, though I know I still have a lot to do to improve further.

About your question, David can give you the official answer, but I believe it's yes, just be interested in what you're looking at and don't get too hung up on a certain "correct" pattern of shifting. To me this statement of yours said it all:
Quote:I think when you are interested in things like I was when I was searching for a grey button correct shifting comes naturaly.
Right, I think it's better to be interested in looking for small details than to concentrate on moving your eyes a certain way. The conflict is because I'm not sure whether it's best for people to practice certain artificial things first as exercises to get used to one or two things before actually trying to completely practice the right way to see. But I'm starting to think that whenever you eyes are open you have a mandate to practice the right way to see without any artificial parts that people with normal vision don't do.

Nancy, I hadn't thought of the issue of staring as being impolite. But that's a good one too. Or looking too closely at people so as to be invasive.
Site Administrator

"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
Very good explanations!
I've notced myself how hard it is to really stick to small details, without constantly reminding myself to do so.
Maybe I'm so used to a blurry environment by now (by not wearing glasses for 1 year), that I don't even expect to see details clearly - and to make up for the deficit in clearness, I move my eyes around in large shifts in order to see enough and avoid unpleasant surprises.
Narrowing the area of attention too much gives a feeling of insecurity and uncontrolled exposure to the 'unseen' rest.
David, I love the interactive parts of your article: the way you prove that even I can shift normally given the right circumstances creates a really powerful effect.

Interesting that some of you mention the part about the grey button. Maybe it's just me, but when I looked for the grey button, I somehow managed to trick myself into seeing one. Then I read: "that's because there isn't one." And just like that, the button disappeared.

If you want a good laugh, I should probably mention that I thought David was asking us to look for a grey button on the man's head in the painting. I was thinking: I can't even make out a man in the painting. How in the world can I see a button in there? Big Grin
Thx again for another great post.
All seems to be as simple as "relax and you will see" or "Use it correctly and you will see"
As far as I remember David is more to "Use it correctly" approach then relaxing the eyes.

Sometimes I have doubts and think that this whole "seeing correctly" will never work for me.
I feel like I am forcing my eyes to see better by reading all posts here and trying to apply all the methods.
But at the same time I feel like, all I do is incorrect and wont get me anywhere.
I am not saying that I lost my believes cause I did not. I have been here for 6months already and not planing to leave this place!!!
I am just frustrated that all those great posts do not lead me anywhere.
I want to see just a little of a clear flash, but it is not coming to me.

And, does it really matter where did my attention go when I looked at the picture?
I looked where I wanted and what I wanted to see on the photo.
Personally, I was not interested at all, but does it mean I have to be interested to see?
It does not make sense to me. Sometimes we just look somewhere to read something or to see something, but not necessary because we are interested,but we need some information.

On my train to and from work, I always look at the train number at the end of the train car and practice the "moving in the triangle" method.
Am I interested what the number is? No way, I will never be. Do i want to see it clear? Yes.
So, I am worried that if I need to be interested in everything I see and pay more attention then I will never see.
Maybe, I have it wrong, but that is how I interpret it.

I personally struggle and so far nothing can help my vision. I have two options so far:
- maintain the vision i have just by practicing with different methods from this site,
- do nothing and let it be worse or who knows.

What drives me crazy is the ability to maintain but not improve.
I feel like am an sucked to some black hole and I cannot escape it.

So here are my questions to you David and others:
- How all the techniques described by you relate to the astigmatism, I rarely hear you saying anything about it (forgive me if I missed posts when you talk about it)
- Does not the astigmatism require some exercise based work that would be little different then what you describe (more like line tracing)
- How long will it take to see any improvement in regards to the astigmatism
- When I trace lines, I often see them pulsing, changing colors, getting blacker, but only when i trace, why this never happens if I just look at letters
- Why talking brakes from exercising and trying to be relaxed and not worried about vision does not fix anything

Looking into your responses.


If you have to read something, that is what being interested means. It doesn't mean you find it entertaining. It just means it holds your attention for some reason and you accept that fact and you act on it by looking at it to get visual information and think about what you're seeing.

If you have equally no interest in seeing anything available to you, it just illustrates the fact that you have given up your desires to the point where you actually have no interest in seeing anything in particular, and you need to redevelop your desires by finding a way to become interested in something. Bates touched on this by describing how kids eventually become incapable of learning because the constant exposure to boring material in the classroom has destroyed their impulse towards acquiring knowledge.

If you aren't interested in seeing a letter you are working with using whatever method of shifting your attention around it, you don't want to see it clearly. You might want to see clearly in a general sense, but not that letter, and you're using that letter as a means to an end without realizing that the thing preventing you from reaching that end is fact that you have no interest in doing so.

It would be like if I tried to develop my sense of touch by rubbing my hand back and forth on this tabletop, without interest in actually feeling the tabletop but with the idea that I'm using the tabletop as a tool to improve my sense of touch so that I can touch anything else except this tabletop which I don't want to feel.

I don't know about astigmatism. It's all the same to me.

blwegrzyn Wrote:- Why talking brakes from exercising and trying to be relaxed and not worried about vision does not fix anything

Why would it?
Site Administrator

"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
Hi David,

There's some issue or question I want to raise here. Everything you say makes a lot of sense, in relation to the principles of the Bates method we are all mostly familiar with, or at least trying to be familiar with.
Nevertheless, I have noticed that personally for me something else comes into play. For me to be seeing a bit more clearly I need not look intensely at a single point and want to see it specifically, but to keep at all time a large peripheral awareness, so that I look somewhere but still notice and see other things all around. Possibly the further the better. On one hand it sounds like central fixation, which is in accordance with what you are talking about. On another way it's even more extreme and sounds close to eccentric vision or fixation, which should be bad...

I found that out for myself as I decided to do the experimentation of lowering my vision by looking at two objects apart at the same time and see them both well. I think this is a demonstration Bates had suggested a couple of times in his writings. Doing this proved to be on one hand difficult or even impossible - I couldn't see as well a second object especially if it's not VERY close to the first. On the other hand it proved to be an eye opener literally - it feels comfortable to notice so much more periphery. It's a question of awareness, and it feels much like suddenly taking a deep deep breath after having breathed very shallowly for a long time. Needless to say, it affects the breath in just that way.

To start from the end now, I feel like my tendency is actually to keep staring at too little points and details, and in an intense way which is indeed uncomfortable. My automatism is to always close all the field to where I'm trying to see something. It seems not good for me.

It's confusing and sounds to contradicting to what you're saying - but maybe it's not? What do you think about that?

All the best!
fuoco, I know you addressed your question to David, but I noticed you said
Quote:My automatism is to always close all the field to where I'm trying to see something.
which to me is key to your approach -- you're straining, whether you realize it or not. Would you be able to allow yourself to see (including noticing the periphery), instead of trying to see? Something to play with -- believe me, I'm still working on this one myself.
Pikachu Wrote:David, I love the interactive parts of your article: the way you prove that even I can shift normally given the right circumstances creates a really powerful effect.

Well said . The question for me is still "How to stay interested all the time?" My idea is to stop being passive and for example imagine you are a child who see things for the first time and actively searching for all the (new) details and ask yourself such guestions : Is there any other yellow leaf on the tree?. Oh, yes there it is, but this one is also half orange and you realize it´s autumn.
But it is quite hard to maintain this state of interest (if it is right).
Hi fuoco,

It's probably not the looking/shifting at small points of fixation that is to blame, more likely it's the 'intensity' infused in it,
as you say. Simply by the concentration, the resolve, the repetition, whatever the case might be, we can overload the center of sight. Is there such as thing as giving our center of sight too much attention - of course. An attention overload ('concentration') was one of the main ingredients of poor sight, as Bates propounded. But by that he did not mean not to have attention; attention matters, it is a very important component of vision. He stated that it was detrimental to try to see or think one thing to the exclusion of all others, or to "think continuously of an unchanging object without continuous shifting of the attention."

It is hardly a contradiction to be aware of the peripheral field - to the contrary, it's a strain not to:

"It is physiologically impossible to see one thing at a time and exclude everything else from sight, because nature has given us a visual field of considerable range. It is true that we can see even a very small object continuously, but only if the attention shifts constantly from one part to another, because the eye is in constant motion, and any attempt to stop this motion lowers the vision and causes the object to blur or disappear. When the vision is normal the movements of the eye are short, rhythmical and easy, and each successive point fixed is seen better than any other point." [BEM Jul 21]

Likewise, if you are just shifting from point to point, connecting the dots so to speak, and NOT seeing each point better than the previous, strain is likely to perpetuate.

When you direct a little more of your attention to the peripheral, I think it may siphon off a little of that overload you are placing on the center of your sight, such that it can operate with less strain, and with less strain, more clarity. Pay too much attention to the peripheral, and you can tense the eyes trying to distinguish things, causes less shifting (staring), and worse foveal vision. You have to find the right balance that works for the state of your own visual system. And it can be a very fine line.

We can get so used to looking at points so intensely, that it becomes 'normal' for us, we don't even realize that it is actually abnormal, causing strain. It seems very odd at first to stop doing that, as though we're doing something wrong, when indeed it is the right path. Your instinct tells you it's right, as evidenced by the clearer vision, yet your wrong habit tells you it's not. What will you listen to?

A lot of people struggle with two alternates I think:

1. Squeeze down your attention to a small area, block out peripheral vision. The problem here is you destroy your peripheral vision in order to be left with only central vision, and even then your central vision isn't as oriented around as small a detail as you need. Kind of like balling up a cloth napkin in your fist and trying to squeeze it down as small as you can, instead of just leaving it laid out and pinching one point with your fingernails. So in squeezing your attention down like this you're working with your central vision more, but you're tensing your eyes and really not using your central vision that well because of the lack of fine motor movement.
2. Pick a point of central vision but pay attention to peripheral vision too. This helps you avoid tensing your eyes like you do above, but you don't really use your central vision, and because of that again you lack the fine motor movement.

So the thing to learn is relaxing your eyes don't mean giving up on the smallest details of central vision, and using central vision fully doesn't mean giving up your peripheral vision.

I'm kind of repeating what Nancy and Andrew just said.
Site Administrator

"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
Thanks for all the replies, it's very useful/ Basically it's what I'm saying, there should be a balance when looking at details intensely but not too much intensely (or tensely). Keeping awareness of the periphery seems to often help me achieve that, for example when looking at the chart. But I agree that it can also become too much, and I can tense my eyes out of trying to see too much the periphery.
That's exactly the problem with relaxation. I can feel it when my eyes feel good, relaxed and usually vision is somewhat more clear, but at least more comfortable. I can sometimes notice when I'm tensing my eyes and body but it still doesn't hurt. But the real problem is when my eyes hurt and my neck is tense - then I'm obviously doing something wrong but I don't always notice it clearly and I almost always can't get to release it. That's why I'm trying to find the basic patterns, and hopefully use that to know what to address when it happens...

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