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#1
David, at first I opposed your idea of “looking at details”, but after reading your blog I've found myself siding with you, to my own surprise. Your ideas resonated well with my own findings.

For the years of my not-so-successful-as-I-wished Bates practice, I figured out that relaxation is essential. I noticed that sometimes my practice with Snellen card is more successful than other times, with all conditions seemingly equal. So I thought there is some kind of mental attitude in the process that affects the result. I spent a lot of time in meditations analyzing the way I use my eyes, and I finally learned how to look at things in the most relaxing way - without trying to see, without trying to make out any detail, comforting myself with my current vision, letting all far objects stay far and not trying to "pull them closer", noticing the peripheral vision, blinking and shifting softly, and imagining that all objects can move, without trying to lock them in place. I've become so good with this practice, that I could reach clear flashes in just few minutes of looking through the window. I didn't have to do anything, just to shift freely this way.

However, this turns out to be not enough. When I turn back to my work, I instantly strain again and ruin my half-hour relaxation in just few minutes. It happens because the pattern of using the eyes while I work, does not change. Looking through the window at nothing in particular, "defocusing" my vision and thereby relaxing it, differs greatly from looking and focusing my attention at my close work.

It is now clear to me that there must be a significant period of time of re-learning the correct patterns of using the eyes at all times. It doesn't happen magically even if you are able to produce a clear flash relatively easily, by a relaxation procedure such as palming, long swing, sun gazing, body scanning, or just looking through the window.

Now I read your post about myopia being a disorder of attention. This is brilliant. I have long noticed that boredom, i.e. when the interest is lost and attention can no longer be directed where the mind wants, is a killer of any Bates excercise. (This is exactly why everyone will fail the legendary 24 hours palming session). In fact, when you get bored, your eyes become heavy, locked and even painful, you immediately want to close them and take a nap.

Another striking point is that I should move my attention and not my eyes, which I used to do. When I tried to move attention instead, I've found it's quite hard for me to do, like my mind isn't trained to do so. It's got used to be bored by blurred vision all the time, so that I habitually never really pay attention to anything I see. And it's now clear to me that if I'm not even looking, I will not see anything for sure.

Looking at details seems like a pattern that can be practiced at all times, even when I work. It will surely take me some practice to master, but it now inspires me, like if I found a missing bit of the whole picture.

One emphasis I'd like to make regarding your method, is that while it's right that relaxation is not all you need, it is still very essential, and I am going to use my skills in relaxed "defocused" vision to complement your looking at details method. I think it's like two sides of the medal. It's way too easy to begin staring at detail instead of looking at detail, because most of time, myopic eyes are in a very strained state, I'd call it "collapse", when they try hard to see all objects at once and fail and panic. In this state it is impossible to look at detail to improve vision, and you can easily make it even worse, producing tension around eyes, stinging, tearing and spawning polyopic illusions. These sensations indicate that the eyes are "collapsed" and looking at details is failing. This is a good time to "defocus", look away and shift freely for a period of time, so that the eyes can let go of trying to see. And then look lightly at details again.

One particular problem I'm struggling with now is working with books or computer screen. The problem is that even though I can see well at close distance, the letters are not really interesting, they are all the same, and my attention goes after the words I read, not the letters I see. So very soon I find myself reading the whole strings of text almost without shifting, and my vision fails, producing headaches. Any advice on how to engage the attention to see the letters while reading?
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#2
Oleg, thanks for writing. This is well-said and matches my own experience. When I first realized I was straining just about all of the time (visually and with most of the rest of my body too), I started regularly taking my eyes away from the computer screen to aim them out the window, but I didn't look at anything! So I was either straining to look, or in Collapse Mode, which was more restful, but didn't really move me forward. I think this is a lot of the reason I've made such slow progress. Now I look with interest out the window, shifting on the details out there and taking in the visual information they convey.

About the computer screen itself, I don't have The Answer, but will give you a few ideas that have helped me and maybe some will be useful. The letters themselves are not visually interesting, I agree, but when I can see the pixel details of the background too I know my vision is getting sharper, or maybe I am too close to the screen! I take frequent breaks to examine the scene outside the window, or go get a glass of water, or palm. When I'm reading, my attention is not so much on the image of the letters themselves (like with the eye chart), but rather on the content they convey, which may be fascinating to me. (If it's not I often move on to something else.) Peter Grunwald taught us this, having someone demonstrate "reading the words", which was fast and hard to follow and boring to those of us listening. Then he had the reader read more slowly and think about what the text meant, the way you'd read a bedtime story to a child, and it was much more interesting to us. (Side note: the reader was proud of how fast he could read, but said he hardly ever remembered what he had read! His attention wasn't really on it.)

So I think you have your own answer. Give the computer words more attention and interest, and you'll see them better, plus get less tired. Let us know if this helps at all.
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#3
Oleg K. Wrote:...
One particular problem I'm struggling with now is working with books or computer screen. The problem is that even though I can see well at close distance, the letters are not really interesting, they are all the same, and my attention goes after the words I read, not the letters I see. So very soon I find myself reading the whole strings of text almost without shifting, and my vision fails, producing headaches. Any advice on how to engage the attention to see the letters while reading?

Oleg,
Yes, there has been a very good advice described in some earlier post regarding this, I unfortunately don't remember who wrote about this, maybe someone knows or knows a link ? but anyway it said something like, if you have natural visual habits you shall be able to see a white line under the row of text that you are reading. This requires that you always look at the bottom of the letters. It is easier to look at the bottom of the letters in stead of trying too hard to see the uppper part of each letter. As you read in a relaxed way you are aware of this white line. The white line is whiter than the white background. A person with perfect eyesight can see this white line. It requires central fixation to see it. Thus you see the bottom part of each letter with you fovea and the surrounding part of the letter and sentence with your peripheral vision. Thus it is a way of reading that always synchronize the eyes and that creates a relaxed reading. I think this is a sound advice, but I must admit that I have some work left to really learn this.
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#4
Welcome back! Sometimes people just need to find their own way.

When reading, the ideas that the words convey are important for understanding, and of course the whole point of reading words and sentences is to find meaning, but it's also important to pay attention to the details of the letters themselves, to keep the eyes oriented and focused. I don't know exactly the best way of doing such a complex task as reading, but doing it just a little better might be good enough. So you could incorporate skipping to every several letters and look for a smaller detail on that letter, for a second or so, before skipping to the next letter. That way you're not slowing down your reading speed too much. It's a balance between a comfortable reading speed, understanding the meaning, and looking for smaller details. You should find that you can still read effectively while doing this, but if not, take a moment to stop and look at the letters frequently as you're reading, so that you alternate between the two activities until they become more seamless.
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#5
A great post fully of good advice ... and it makes sense too ... But I am wondering about the frequency that I have to shift my eyes in in order to do this correctly. When there is blur, shifting (moving the eyes to a new point of interest) becomes more difficult. Of course I can ask myself questions such as : is there any more blue here ? Or is that a little more text that I make out ? But the problem with that is that it takes time to do that as well. Which again makes me ask : how would I determine the best frequency for shifting in my situation ?
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#6
Lex Wrote:A great post fully of good advice ... and it makes sense too ... But I am wondering about the frequency that I have to shift my eyes in in order to do this correctly. When there is blur, shifting (moving the eyes to a new point of interest) becomes more difficult. Of course I can ask myself questions such as : is there any more blue here ? Or is that a little more text that I make out ? But the problem with that is that it takes time to do that as well. Which again makes me ask : how would I determine the best frequency for shifting in my situation ?

Lex,
As I have understood it you need to shift at least each second, even if there is no such rule of course.
When you are a beginner I think it is ok to shift really slowly, because you are simply not able to relax that much to be able to shift faster. However as you learn to relax your eyes more and more you can try shifting faster and faster. The purpose of doing so is to forget about your eyes and just be aware of what you are looking at.
Each time you shift you activate the saccadic eye movements. The saccadic eye movements are automatic very fast eye movements and they secure that your eye really moves and follows the point you look at. So that implies that it is not very important to shift fast when you once have learnt to see naturally. Natural vision improvement is actually about activating the saccadic eye movements and in order to do so some natural shifting is required!
If you see a point blurry despite that you try to see it clearly then you shall just don't care about seeing it clearly and just go on and shift to the next point, that is what people with perfect vision do.
I think I can shift I would guess about 10 times per second by now. It is only possible if you relax really much, then there seems to be no limits.
Also if you get tired in your eyes you should shift more slowly and when you feel more relaxed you can shift faster.
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#7
My vision always becomes crystal clear after practicing; later that day or the next day suddenly vision is perfect; the eyes really do know what to do and practicing is just reminding them how to return to normal movements, function. When practicing without one once of trying, mainly letting the mind drift while enjoying the scenery or having fun with the eyechart; no effort; thats when it's clearest during practice.

In Bates magazines, in a later edition a person asked; how can central fixation occur when reading if your looking at the white lines under the sentence? (or maybe the question was 'white spaces between sentences')
Bates replied; to look at the white lines, (or spaces) to relax the eyes, mind, then look at the print when you want to read it, when it flashes clear from the relaxation. Central fixation; looking at the object of attention.

The white line relaxes the mind, eyes and the relaxation is carried over to the print.

For me the line appears when the eyes move along a sentence or shift on a word and when moving from a sentence to the white space between sentences or the space back to the sentences.

A lot of people ask me about speed reading. I find some types straining if diffusion occurs, trying to space the visual attention out over a large area. It seems that most normal reading has the eyes (central field) jumping from one point, letter to another, not necessarily from point to point on every letter or on every letter. I think the brain, peripheral picks up the other letters without strain; it’s not a diffusion thing, it’s just how the brain, eyes work to read. This can occur fast; natural speed reading. Or; does the central field look at, move super fast upon every letter and we are just not aware of it due to tiny, fast saccades?

Am I wrong? Any ideas?
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#8
Quote:Each time you shift you activate the saccadic eye movements. The saccadic eye movements are automatic very fast eye movements and they secure that your eye really moves and follows the point you look at. So that implies that it is not very important to shift fast when you once have learnt to see naturally. Natural vision improvement is actually about activating the saccadic eye movements and in order to do so some natural shifting is required!

Thanks for the explanation ... it's helpful ... But what do you mean with the quote above ? You mean that the shifting are counted are saccadic movements ? Or is it that the shift itself activates even smaller saccadic movements. (Like microscopic ones orso) ...

Lex
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#9
I find it a little confusing too, how the term 'saccadic' is being used. That can include any type of voluntary and involuntary movement. You are probably referring to those of a more involuntary nature. Our larger, voluntary movements are generally known as 'saccades.' Our involuntary movements are known as 'fixational' movements - those are 'microsaccades,' 'tremor,' and 'drifts.' They mainly occur when we fixate on an object, or on small areas, as when we examine things of interest. Some of our voluntary saccades can be as small as involuntary movements - there is a little bit of overlap, so it becomes difficult to determine the nature of every tiny shift. Small, involuntary shifts have been observed to also occur when we look at larger areas even during a scanning type mode. In any case, our larger voluntary saccades direct our eyes to an object of interest, after which we examine it with smaller saccades, of either a voluntary or involuntary nature, or both.

I agree, I never felt the need to shift fast, just the need to KEEP shifting, in order to maintain clarity. Natural shifting is a continuous motion - continuously changing, and attending to, our point of interest. Bates sometimes used the terms 'slow, easy, continuous.' Slow in terms of voluntary movements (certainly not our involuntary movements), easy - in an effortless manner, and continuous - we keep changing our point of attention, almost rhythmically, even if it's very close ('adjacent,' if you will). When it all comes together, it indeed does seem like just that - slow, easy, and continuous. You really don't need to think about shifting in a physical way. It becomes more of a mental activity, where the eyes just follow the thoughts - where you direct your point of attention. Our eyes work best when we are not interfering with them, trying to make them do things physically in order to bring out a point more clearly (as locking onto a point, suppressing our blinking and shifting, squeezing them with facial muscles). But to get there, you may have to encourage blinking, shifting on larger and smaller areas, and briefly fixating on small points to overcome years of staring and looking at larger areas all equally well.
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#10
Lex Wrote:
Quote:Each time you shift you activate the saccadic eye movements. The saccadic eye movements are automatic very fast eye movements and they secure that your eye really moves and follows the point you look at. So that implies that it is not very important to shift fast when you once have learnt to see naturally. Natural vision improvement is actually about activating the saccadic eye movements and in order to do so some natural shifting is required!

Thanks for the explanation ... it's helpful ... But what do you mean with the quote above ? You mean that the shifting are counted are saccadic movements ? Or is it that the shift itself activates even smaller saccadic movements. (Like microscopic ones orso) ...

Lex

Hello again,
I mean that the shift itself (that is a voluntary shift due to shifting awareness from one point to another) activates saccadic eye movements as a consequence. What I mean with saccadic eye movements in this context is unvoluntary fast complex very small movements that moves, stabilizes and fixes the eye exactly to the point that your awareness is looking at.
You need to keep in mind that the system of eye muscles is really complex. there is no chance to control each muscle voluntarily in the purpose of looking at a detail. However it is possible to control the eye movements at a higher level with your awareness and it is also possible to control the relaxation of all eye muscles. In fact natural vision is about to fully control the awareness of looking at details without interfering with the complex unvoluntary eye muscle movement schemes. This is the art of seeing as i have understod it, but if I am wrong, please let me know.
I have one video to show how complicated the eye movements really is that will make it clear that we talk about unvoluntary eye movements (even if the movement of awareness is voluntary):
<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdGjOqvPIF4&feature=context-chv">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdGjOqvP ... ontext-chv</a><!-- m -->
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