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Thinking one thing best.
#1
Hello everybody. I am new to this forum but not new to the Bates Method. I have years of experience of getting it wrong.

I have read from this site a few times and have found the posts helpful and insightful. I am contributing now because of my latest conclusions based on what I have read from others and my own experience.

This is my own success story in that I think I have finally pin-pointed the key to vision improvement. It makes sense of all my past failure and aligns with the teachings of Dr Bates.

Whenever I experienced a clear flash, it came after a moment of focused attention. I often would ask myself afterwards, "What was it I was thinking when that happened?" As for my eyes, I wasn't even aware I was doing anything with them.

Whenever I experienced a longer period of better-than-usual vision, it was always during a time of generally focused activity. I either didn't have time to think about my eyes or I had decided I didn't want to be thinking about my eyes in case I made them strain more and missed something.

There had been times in the past when I would employ a technique such as swinging or shifting, or even a technique of my own devising. These techniques would either be physical or mental in nature. For a while a particular thing would work like magic, giving me near 20/20 vision for longer periods of time over maybe a couple of days or nearly a week. Then it would suddenly stop working and even become a strain. I would be left utterly demoralised, wondering if I will ever be able to see normally. My miracle cure had stopped working and my sight would return to it's previous state. This happened on numerous occasions with different techniques.

Recently I have realised, after reading posts on this site, that it is not so much seeing one thing best but thinking one thing best which is the key to success with the Bates Method. My own experience backs this up. Over the past several days I have been focussing my awareness. I have done this in various ways such as:

Focussing on the here-and-now. I am not good at living in the present and I find the practise uncomfortable, but as a result all other thoughts about other things outside of the present moment fall by the wayside somewhat and my mind is centralised in the moment.

Thinking generally but simply about the activity I am doing. For example - "I am watching my son's swimming lesson". I have to qualify such a thought with things like "This is all I am doing - not straining, just watching". Basically I am getting the message to my mind that what I am doing is utterly simple.

Letting my attention shift naturally, unforced, between various points such as things going on around me to sensations around my eyes and then maybe back to a visual point or a particular thought which something triggers. This I do in a relaxed way.

Thinking about one thing while maintaining an easy awareness of my visual field. While being aware specifically of both things I think my attention jumps backwards and forwards between what I am seeing and what I am thinking so that my attention is always on one thing best.

I have found that by focusing my attention in general (not just visual attention but mainly mental attention) has brought about a much more consistent and greatly improved level of vision. I still need to practise this and I still have a long way to go but I do believe I am on the right road now.

My theory is that a focused mind brings about focused eyes. I have spent most of my time not thinking about anything in particular but everything at once with dissipated attention. No wonder I'm not terribly "switched on" most of the time! During those times when a technique was working well, I believe that my mind was focused on that technique. I really was thinking one thing best. But I focused on the technique rather than understanding why it was working. After a while I suppose either my brain got tired from focussing too much on one thing, or my general attention began to dissipate again. Not quite sure what happened really. Even now I have to change what my mind is focused on. I need to keep my mind focused on something though and I think it desperately needs the stimulation as I seem to take very little interest in anything. I find that even thinking about mundane things which I look at clears my vision. This is helpful if I am in danger of being bored like when I am waiting in the car while my wife is on a shopping rampage with my credit card after saying she is just popping into the supermarket for some milk.

I would say it's all about being relaxed, easy thoughts, natural shifting of attention, a holistic kind of awareness, thinking about the things you are seeing, engaging in life with your whole person and whole attention. Would we not rather be truly involved with the world around us without having to think about our eyesight? Isn't this how normal sighted people operate. They are thinking one thing best and fully engaging their whole being in each moment.

My prescription is -4 in one eye and -3.75 in the other. This is so you know that I do have a not insignificant level of myopia and that the level of vision improvement the Bates Method has gained me is generally substantial.
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#2
Hello Jimboaxeman
Thanks for sharing your experience and your thoughts.
I think you are right in connecting these things. My own 'experiments' have led me in a similar direction.
There is just one thought I would like to add. Similar to vision, the focus of concentration on one thing is not achieved by excluding everything else of the mind, not by a forced narrowing of the the mind.
Like in vision, which consists of a 'center' and 'peryphery' and you can't exclude peripheral vision and only see the center, but you have to see the periphery in a different way, just let things be there as they are. The same way to deal with 'unnecessary' thoughts, worries etc, which tend to become more dominant the more I try to exclude them. So I try to let them 'be unimportant', 'step back to the background' and attach more importance to what I'm doing just now, get more and more 'involved' and 'absorbed'. This is much easier and the focus of attention stays naturally where it should be. If you concentrate on keeping your focus on one thing, excluding everything else, this consumes a lot of energy and 'tires' the mind.
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#3
Thank you for your comment, Nini. Very helpful and it lines up with my own thoughts on the matter. I still tend to tire my mind out with making too much of an effort to centrally fixate my mind. I know that I can hold awareness of several things at once and it would seem that I will tend to be most aware of one in particular if my attention is allowed it's freedom. Trouble is I find that I am stopping my attention from moving when I am trying too hard to centralise because of my agenda for clear vision. It seems that we have to forget the quest for perfect or normal eyesight and just engage in life in a naturally focused manner and then the eyesight becomes centrally fixated as well. This is the trick isn't it? I will take on board what you have said. It is encouraging to find people on the same road which has been discovered by our own experience rather than by what we are told by somebody else.
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#4
I think, the 'trick' is not to 'judge' what you see and not to concentrate on 'making it better', as I wrote elsewhere:

Quote:If you get a headache, that's a sign of too much strain, you are putting in too much effort in seeing as clearly as possible without glasses. To avoid this here an advice: Try to see only "what is there actually", not in a 'judging' way like: "oh, this is too blurry, I should see it more distinctly".
Allow yourself to see blurry, this takes a lot of strain away and with the relaxation, your sight will improve much more easily.

When you tell yourself: "It is good, what ever I see, let's just make the best of it." you will soon discover more and more details in the blur without putting yourself under pressure.

Don't use your imagination and your knowledge of perfect sight in a 'destructive' way, that is to tell yourself how far you are away from this goal but in a 'positive' way as a sort of 'pattern' or 'template' to help your eyes in finding the correct adjustment.
I wrote about it here:
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and here:
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with one example of a cure in Bates' book which impressed me very much.
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#5
Thank you. So many times in the past I have given myself an awful migraine headache by trying too hard. Lately I have not experienced much discomfort in my eyes since I have been more aware of my mind's role in the vision process. As for judging, there has been times when I simply accepted the level of blur and interacted with the world as it was. I just found though that I somehow lost the knack and strain returned. This was one of my previous experiences I mentioned where something worked like magic for a while and then just stopped working altogether. But there was always something to be learned from each of these experiences. I think also that we sometimes need the attitude whereby we think "This is how MY eyesight is and if it stays this way then I will learn to sense the world around me in other ways. I will not let poor eyesight stop me connecting with life." As long as we decide to be focused in our general perception of the world our eyes will do the same anyway. One way of being focused it to simply be mindful of the things we see - what is it? What does it do? Who put it there? Already I am focusing my mind and my being on something rather than the bored indifference which has become habit - and a hard one to break!

I'm not quit there with using my visual imagination. I think maybe it is too strained at the moment. I find that some Bates principles do nothing for me until I have reached a certain level of relaxation or understanding from personal experience and then I find they make sense and work for me better.

I am grateful for your advice. I need to learn from people, like yourself who are some steps ahead of me in this.
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#6
This sounds like everything I have been going through, 4 times I have slipped into long clear vision 3-7 days at a time, and when it goes, I do the same thing as before but without results, and for me it usually follows by 3 days off more than normal strain. But I have trouble getting back into that state again, until I completely give up everything, which I can very rarely do. I always need unusual little triggers that relax my whole body for it to be successful.
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#7
Hello Eaglevision,

It is a frustrating business isn't it? But I always concluded that that these different occaisons must have had at least one thing in common, and that being mental focus. It seems that we have to change what we focus on frequently and I think we need to ask "What is the easiest thing to mentally focus on right now?" If we are busy and into what we are doing we needn't ask the question but there are times when being focussed on a task doesn't seem to bring clear vision. It could be that we are failing to focus in a relaxed way and on one thing best at a time. We cannot really synthesise this central fixation of the mind without straining just as Nini is saying, so relaxed attention is the way forward. I think that when we find something which works, after a while we start to demand that it works. Couple that with the anxiety that it may stop working and there you have it - straining, putting pressure on ourselves, treating the eyes like slaves etc. I often think about how people with normal vision see and these are the thoughts which come up:

No effort,
Unaware of the eyes,
No anxiety or expectation of failure to see,
Vibrantly focused on whatever is grabbing the attention.

You mentioned completely giving up your attempts to see clearly. I remember when I made a decision out if sheer frustration to completely give up on the Bates Method and go back to wearing glasses. I immediately had an impressive clear flash. So, I didn't, i the end, give up. But there is something to learn from this.
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#8
Thanks for the suggestions,
sorry, by 'give up' I mean't on the previous method that got me initially focused. So I needed to find or develop something new.
I am with you when you say mentally focused is the only thing in common and must be the way forward,
and that is perhaps the reason why this is the only way for me the flash lasts longer that a day.
this relaxed attention does seem to be the key however for me at the moment it is easy when I am in it,
however a little hard to get, once it has left me. I do hope this will change with time though.
one last thing if I may, since you came to this realization (of thinking one thing best), how long did it take for you to easily grasp this mentally focused state back once it left you or maintain longer periods of this state.
Thanks for sharing this with us, its always great to hear success story's.
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#9
I am still new to practising the mental focus, but I find in order to regain it I make myself aware of the here-and-now. I make myself more aware of what is happening around me more than anything else going on in my head. I will focus on the particular thing I am doing, rather than just doing it without thinking, or going onto "auto-pilot". The present moment really is the most important thing as it is all we really have. I am often thinking about the future or a number of things I feel I have to do today rather than living in the moment. This is a long in-grained habit for me. I think also it is important to let thoughts about the clarity of your eyesight become less important. Another tip I picked up in this discussion. So I intend to absorb myself in what I am doing now without too much concern for my vision. What I am doing right now is more important and calls for more attention than thinking or worrying about my eyesight or anything else not relevant to the moment but which would otherwise steal my best attention. This way I am often finding an immediate positive response with my vision. Sometimes it takes longer if my eyes are feeling tight.
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#10
For me the easiest way to get this mentally focused, relaxed attention is watching TV.
I have a rather small screen (21") in a distance of 10 feet (next to my eye chart). In the beginning it was hard to resist the urge to put on glasses to really enjoy what I see. Now it usually takes only a few moments to see better than at the time, when I had my contact lenses in my eyes; I see all the details very clearly and can read very small texts - still fluctuating a bit, but more and more stabilizing.

I use this sort of 'vsision practice' to 'investigate' and find out, what I am doing exactly with my eyes during that time, what leads to better vision and what is hindering; that is sensing the muscle tension - how much and where I have to 'manipulate' and where I just have to 'let go'. This is not a single act, but a process to find more and more the right way to 'support' and 'guide' the focusing of my eyes without directly interfering with the work of the eye muscles. The more I manage to find to this 'indirect guidance', the more I feel, that I can loosen the tight 'direct grip' on the eye muscles and they become more and more 'flexible' and reactive; vision improves.

This sort of feeling I try to find again in other situations and 'reproduce' the relaxation; and - if I can't get it - try to find out what is going wrong. This helped me to progress, but my vision is still best while watching TV.
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#11
I know what you mean by watching TV and it is a good way to lose yourself in something interesting. I like your balanced approach as well in that you know when to manipulate the eye muscles and when not to. I have had times when my primary focus has been on physically relaxing my eye muscles and it has worked well at the time, but it certainly does not work all of the time, not even half the time.

This morning I was straining because my underlying objective to the thoughts which I thought I was thinking best was just to see clearly. So I forgot about seeing and put more attention on my task. The tightness left and my vision cleared. As a result I was thinking (as I have done before) that maybe we need to forget we are myopic? But no, as you said, I just need my clear vision agenda to become less important than what I am doing now. I realised that my best thought was on seeing, or at least my thought on seeing was equal in attention to the task in hand. Hence, strain. Seeing clearly must become less important. I cannot forget it, but that is ok, as long as it is in the background and I am able to put my best attention on something else. This is thanks to your advice.
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#12
jimboaxeman Wrote:My prescription is -4 in one eye and -3.75 in the other.
It's helpful to read about your progress and your successes. I also am working out of a similar myopic hole, -4.25 and -3.75 diopters. I am curious if you also have astigmatism which causes you to see double images? Also, what do you think was the cause of your vision problem...excessive reading, video games, etc.?

I'm still not sold on the idea that the cure to my vision problem is mainly mental focus, but I can evolve....Just not there yet.
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#13
Hello lou_deg,

Yes I do have a degree of astigmatism. I don't have my full prescription handy but I get a lot of double images, especially with small LED lights.

I could not pin point the particular cause of my myopia. It started when I could not read the blackboard very well at school from the age of about 13. I think it must be down to some kind of stress and anxiety. I think that when we used to have normal vision we were given the impression that we should have perfect sight all of the time. This isn't true. So when we notice an occasion of less than clear eyesight we don't accept it as normal eye behaviour, perhaps responding to some anxiety. Instead we think there is something seriously wrong and the next thing is we are carted to the opticians and have spectacles clamped to our heads. Thus begins the downward spiral of worsening eyesight.

Your vision journey is your own and I wouldn't try to embrace any ideas which do not make sense to you now. I get nothing but strain from doing Bates prescribed eye exercises, so I don't do them. There may come a time when my eyes will respond better, but other things need to fall into place first. I think we all arrive at different places at different times and piece the jigsaw together in a different order. As the puzzle becomes more complete, the things which didn't make sense to us or work for us before are presented with a new understanding. Enjoy the journey and do what works for you now.
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#14
jimboaxeman Wrote:I get a lot of double images, especially with small LED lights.
Yes, I only need to buy one set of Christmas lights on the tree because they appear plentiful already.

It is a fun journey to becoming less dependent on glasses. Glad to have the company of others to share experiences. Looking forward to hear when you achieve your perfect, focused thought. You must be very close if you are able to temporarily get rid of your double images that way.
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#15
Lol.

I think we are always close to perfect sight, but in the same way as getting lost somewhere until you realised you passed your destination several times!

It really does seem to be a wrong thought which causes the problem, and the change in mindset is so small that we don't notice what it is. When I have experienced the flashes, (and I have had them come back again recently as a result of practising mental focus,) it is like my mind is clear as well. When this happens it is just as difficult to pinpoint what was wrong in the first place. It is like clearing your mind of all agenda for perfect vision, a moments distraction from the tyranny of effort.

It helps me sometimes to think (or remember?) how I would interact with life if I had normal vision. There is sense of just being able to get on with life, no bothersome thoughts about trying to see clearly, confidence to relate to the world, freedom, clarity....and whatever else comes to mind about such a state.

Another thought I sometimes use is to think my sight is fine but I am viewing the world through a misted pane of glass. This has brought about some flash-like quality vision. It may not work for particularly long as your mind will tire, but it demonstrates a bit more about how your vision processes work and can be of help in reprogramming and relearning visual perception.

Today I was watching a film on TV and I involved my imagination a lot more in that I was familiar with the film and anticipated through my imagination the scenes of the film as they were playing. A tricky one but again this brought some good quality visual clarity. Not sustainable for long for me but another lesson in the school of seeing.

I try to let my mind and my eyes teach me. Sometimes you just got to sit back and let go of the whole thing and allow your vision processes some space to do the right things automatically.
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