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What exactly is continuous shifting?

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What exactly is continuous shifting?
#1
Okay, I'm trying just get to the bottom of this.

Never stopping, never ceasing to move, the eyes of someone with normal sight never stop moving even when sleeping. Is this completely true?

Even those minute shifts count. When a person is shifting in a tiny, tiny point, it is still shifting. I think those count.

Continuous shifting is not a strain. Is it a strain when you first begin consciously shifting again after you've been "stagnate" for so long? I do think it should come to a point where it is easier to shift then to try and remain stagnate. Stagnation is anti-life, in the physical world, so this makes some sense that our eyes should always be moving somewhat. But then people become caught up in this idea and start shifting around mindlessly. But is it better to shift around mindlessly as you try to figure all this out or just keep staring while you try to figure it all out? I think the former is correct.

I'm trying to keep reminding myself that it should be effortless, but also reminding myself to keep moving, no matter how small. It seems to relate to Bate's thumb movement idea, or why it would be beneficial to remember consecutively each letter of the alphabet, it keeps your mind moving. All this stuff seems to make sense, but actually getting it right when it comes to shifting continuously is a bit more difficult.

I think it's also related to hesitation, anxiety, or a more passive attitude. The one who hesitates may be the one who is hesitating at even something as subtle as an eye shift. As in the person who doesn't make eye contact, or the person who locks their gaze even when something draws their attention.

But you can go the other way. Where you are moving your eyes around too much. Where you think your attention wants to go there but you really were not that interested, so now you're just moving your eyes around everywhere.

What I'm thinking is that if you are unsure about which side to be on, then go both ways. Alternate shifting too much for a while, and then revert back to your normal for a while or stop shifting so much. Notice what happens. I think a key is that if you are unsure, don't keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

I'm just trying to get to the bottom of this. Everyone's input is very much desired.
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#2
In my mind continuous shifting is the natural movement of the eye in relation to its interest in what it is looking at. I think that people who are myopic are already aware of this continuous shifting; just a close up version. For example in reading a book close up that the myopic can see well, the eye reads without hesitation on a word or letter. I think it is just the same principle but at a distance. I also think that the myopic eye is sometimes is so rigid that at a distance can't naturally follow and look at the points and pathways it wishes. In this case I suppose we have to be artificially slower and deliberate until the eye can catch up. I don't think we necessarily have to go all out move eye as fast and as continuous as possible especially aimlessly and neither do I think we should just stare either. Maybe we can just do what we can, like a simple up and down movement on an object. We can usually see some sort of outline that we can play with. Then when it gets easier, investigate details that become apparent but wait for them to make themselves known!
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#3
Yeah, so if the eye's are effortlessly, continuously shifting that means the attention and main area of awareness is also effortlessly, continually changing, no matter how small a change. What I'm thinking is that if you ever start feeling a sense of stagnation, resistance, hesitation, staring, that you should just nudge yourself out of this each time it comes up. No matter how small the nudge, and this can be anything from a large shift, to a very tiny one, or a soft blink, or anything that changes our stimulus.

But it can't be aimless shifting, or can it somewhat? When you start flailing your eyes around, you do actually start looking towards things that interest you, at least somewhat. Like for example if you are flailing your eyes around forcefully at a state fair you will be looking at things of interest still. I"m remembering also that Bates stated that consciously practicing shifting is good unless it is done too fast fro your current state. You only need to shift whenever the feeling of staring comes up, or you are done looking at the point. If you move away too soon you don't give yourself enough time to see in detail what is there.

Well, I'm still just theorizing, so take all this with a grain of salt.
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#4
Ted,

You make some excellent points, and bring up some great questions. I'm sure I'll make for some interesting conversations, and bring up different points of view.

Shifting is a highly complex combination of voluntary, involuntary, reflexive movements. Either way, it SHOULD be effortless, though we sense to the contrary, myopic creatures that we areSmile Every myope out there is very experienced at making effortFUL shifts, and until they put their mind to the matter (and start seeing without corrective lenses), are probably not even aware of it.

It's very good to demonstrate to yourself, as many times as it takes, that repressing the natural necessity to shift is detrimental to vision, and not going to gain you anything. That was one of the first basics of Bates treatment. And throughout treatment he kept "rubbing it in," as he described. In short sessions, of course. Demonstrating to ourselves the wrong ways is sometimes very helpful in waking up our awareness and getting through to our thick skulls that any form of effort is going to be futile.

Yes, eyes never stop moving, even in sleep. Only in deep anesthesia, or due to some form of paralysis will they stop moving. Even think of REM sleep - they move like crazy, when we are in our deepest body rest. They don't need rest, like other skeletal muscles. That is due to the very distinct muscle fiber makeup of extraocular muscle. It's needs (and functionality) are much different from, say your bicep muscle.

More than anything I think it takes a lot of mental discipline to keep them shifting, when they are not doing so, in a more involuntary mode. If you are used to staring, holding onto things, conditioned to seeing things as very stationary, that will seem almost impossible at first. Until you wring out all the effort, there will be some effort present, and it will seem taxing sometimes. But you know the end game, and having demonstrated to yourself that holding the eyes rigidly on any point is counterproductive, there isn't a way around it.

Flailing the eyes mindlessly is not productive. Anyone can do that, even blind people. That just a muscular movement. Eye movement is mostly with a purpose. An interest. Or just exploratory until it happens upon something it wants a better look at. Exploratory would be the closest thing to aimless. Or when someone is remembering something, they may look up, their eyes will wander in space while they're thinking. Bates said the normal eye wanders, all the time. I think that captures it well, but you have to define what wander means in that context - not mindlessly wandering. Wander in the sense that they never try to hold any point, and keep examining something continuously from one part to another. I like "wander" too because it doesn't imply a rigidity, a mechanical need to shift in any pattern. While some shifting patterns may be helpful to get used to moving your eyes, ideally you want a more freelance mode. As Bates instructed his patients, you want to practice on real objects, first at the distance you see best, then gradually shift on objects more distant. Practice a slow, easy, continuous movement. We don't see objects in snapshots, as the myope is always trying to do - we see objects because a continuous, flowing series of movements have built up that image in our brain (in memory, imagination). Yes, it should see one part best, but that part is only seen for a moment. Some people with normal sight may think they see something all alike continuously, but they are simply not aware that they are shifting, blinking, seeing one part best.
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#5
I have been working on central fixation lately and have made progress in my understanding and "use" of it. It does seem that the point of central fixation is barely noticeable and I think that is because of the shifting. Now I don't practise shifting consciously. In the past I created a whole lot of strain by forcing the shifting process, often without any attention (and I have come to believe attention is the key), and the whole thing felt unnatural and burdensome. Sometimes initially there was improved vision but strain can bring about short term improved vision. In the end I would end up with tired eyes and a headache. So, I believe that shifting should be born from allowing your attention free reign. Follow your attention wherever it wants to go. With correct practise of central fixation there is the impression of seeing the whole but paying more attention to the centre. The best way to notice this and understand this is to be aware of this two-fold attention (general awareness of the whole field of vision and a particular specific and tiny point of greater awareness/attention at the centre) during a clear flash or a prolonged period of improved vision. Where does the shifting come in? Well I would say right now that it happens naturally if you are allowing yourself to be aware of the wider field of vision which would mean room to notice specific things and cause conscious movement of the eyes, but according to natural interest, and unvonscious shifting which comes about through relaxed attention. Don't focus all of your attention on one point. Central fixation is seeing one thing best, not seeing one thing only. If you get stuck in the forced shifting game you end up focusing all your attention on one point (which is not central fixation) and actually freezing your natural attention and physical eye movement. Then you try to move your eyes which you have frozen into place. No wonder if feels like hard work. You must allow your attention to move, and the functioning of your eyes will follow. If you just try to rapidly move your eyes apart from your attention, your attention cannot possibly keep up. Attention can and does move incredibly rapidly and so do the eyes, but this can only happen if the attention is allowed to lead and the eyes follow. It simply does not work the other way around. This is my own current theory based on recent experience and a huge leap in my understanding and progress with my eyesight. I believe that it is in agreement with Bates teachings and it should be as it was inspired by them.
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#6
I agree that attention is key to the process of continuous shifting or in central fixation otherwise we are not actually fixating on anything in our mind; only in our vision. The two need to be intertwined. Not some myopic vague "I see everything on one plane; all clearly at once without engaging my brain". It's amazing that we don't need to think at all to look through the glasses but in order to see without glasses the awareness of the brain kicks in sharpening the fuzziness of the image. Vision without awareness is dead. Disengaging our brain means staring in our mind; non attention.
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#7
I think there are 2 main obstacles to continuous shifting - at least from my experience:
1) Trying to measure and compare the actual vision, trying to find out, how much progress you've made, whether today is a 'good' day...
In order to be able to 'evaluate' something, you have to stop the process of movement and take a 'snapshot' of the actual situation.

To avoid this, the best means is to 'look forward' to your goal, not backwards and not at the 'rest of blur' still to overcome.

2) The wrong idea of relaxation, especially after trying too hard to achieve improvement, tiring out eyes and concentration.
Then the longing for rest can lead to a stop of the movement, the eyes feel feel heavy and lazy

There, of course, it is best to avoid overdoing exercises and trying too hard to see smaller details than possible at the moment - even if you know, that you managed to see something better some other day.
And to accept the idea, that clear sight is a continuous process of movement and re-adaptation. Relaxation is not found as a goal at the end of the process, when movement has reached its end - but by giving up the 'grip' on the eye muscles to let them find back to their natural movement again.
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#8
Now here's what I'm thinking. The attention, or awareness, is much less controllable than the eyes. We can stop the eyes moving if we want. But we can't help but notice if someone walks into our periphery. Now, when that attention spots the person in our periphery I guess there's a split second when we unconsciously decide whether we want to look at them in more detail or not. Maybe people with myopia (or just me) tend to have lost a natural, perfectly synced movement here with the awareness, attention, and physical muscles controlling the eyes. They might shift their eyes to the person, trying to pretend that they are practicing shifting, even when they weren't that interested in looking that way. That would be a strain. Or, they may lock their gaze, only seeing the person from their periphery, even when they wanted to let the eyes shift to the person. That's also a strain.

I don't know if other people have noticed this problem, but it is fairly apparent to myself in these situations. So it's as if you are stuck between a rock a hard place. Look, or stare? The alternative, here, I think lies in the continuous shifting. If you weren't that interested but you looked up anyway, that's okay. Just move on then, and don't pretend to be interested any longer. If you were interested but didn't look up, that's okay to. Just keep shifting comfortably and don't allow that "failure to shift" to ruin you and keep you locked up.

I dunno, does anyone have any personal experience of this kind of situation? Especially with regards to social situations.
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#9
Quote: The attention, or awareness, is much less controllable than the eyes.

This might be the root of the problem.
I think that shifting is not achieved by controlling the movent of the eyes but by directing and focussing our attention and awareness and give our eyes the liberty to move freely.
If you try to shift your eyes willingly, the movements can only be rough and very approximate and instead of increasing the subconscious eye movements, this effort of control will rather frein them.
Here is a very good illustration of the subcnscious eye movements:
<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78XYL2d1zdc&list=PL018DF40F67FE1D2E&index=12">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78XYL2d1 ... E&index=12</a><!-- m -->
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#10
In a social situation I would not be placing my attention on my vision but instead on the communication going on between me and another person. Then my attention shifts freely as I listen, look, think, and respond to what the person is saying. Of course the greatest anxiety comes from when we walk in a room full of people at a greater distance than our poor vision can accommodate and all we see is a sea of smudgy and indecipherable faces. This, I agree is one of the most stressful situations for myopes who are practising the Bates Method. I have no clear strategy for this at the moment apart from initially wearing my glasses until I am at closer quarters with someone. Then I can remove my glasses and practise what I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. If I can see clearly enough to recognise a face then I will not pressure myself to see their face more clearly. Instead I will just focus on the interaction between us. I have often found that this leads to enough visual relaxation for more facial details to come out. If I am trying to shift over the person's face I am not really engaging with them and I may even look a bit odd doing this. My attention is being demanded by the communication and meeting of minds and trying to place that attention on visual processes only is unnatural and therefore a strain. I am convinced that attention must be allowed to shift between vision and thoughts, but if we try to control our attention we just halt it or inhibit it's normal movement. Personally I would not worry too much about deliberately looking at things to see if I can induce clearer vision. This is because my interest in looking at the thing is still interest, even if it is only to see it more clearly. But I would tire of this after a while and then I would stop doing it. At the moment I think that when we don't see a thing clearly it is because our attention is not really engaged with it. It feels like all of our attention is on it, but really our attention is locked up somewhere else. Lately I am looking at things and waiting for my attention to truly key in with them. There is no manipulation of the eyes going on. It is purely an exercise of bringing attention to the blur. Attention is more likely to come if I don't just regard what I am looking at as an image but also as what I am aware it is. So the whole of the thing (what it is, what it means to me) is being considered. This is not difficult. It is natural. We do not just interpret the world as an image. We do not just perceive the world through our eyes. When we do try to obsess over the image, attention is halted. This is a strain.

Sorry but I have not said much about shifting as this is something we cannot try to do without inhibiting it. Attention shifts, unless we stop it from doing so.
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#11
jimboaxeman Wrote:Sorry but I have not said much about shifting as this is something we cannot try to do without inhibiting it. Attention shifts, unless we stop it from doing so.

Hi Jim,

I don't believe there is anything inherently wrong or straining about consciously shifting (voluntary saccades). Our brains are wired to voluntarily initiate saccades and pursuit from the frontal eye fields region of the frontal cortex. Granted much of our eye movement is involuntarily ennervated by the lower and mid brain areas, but our attentional shifts are primarily an upper-brain activity. We are constantly choosing where to look, or where not to look. People with normal sight are constantly making voluntary saccades, with no negative impact. The difference is they maintain a high level of central fixation, and I agree that they don't think about their eyes or 'how' they are doing it.

jimboaxeman Wrote:Attention shifts, unless we stop it from doing so.


I think there is many a myope whose attention just doesn't shift, and needs a swift kick in the *ss. Otherwise it simply won't happen, enough, from long term bad habits.

jimboaxeman Wrote:If I am trying to shift over the person's face I am not really engaging with them and I may even look a bit odd doing this.

Likewise, if your eyes are gazing off into nowhere, or you are fixed on one spot on a person's face, waiting for something to happen, they'll also think you are a bit odd. The shifts when looking at a person are mostly so small as to be unnoticable. They are combined usually with larger shifts to look look away at something else, as most people are not comfortable maintaining constant eye contact. I don't find anything odd about making conscious shifts while listening to someone, and keeping my attention primarily on the conversation. It seems natural. Maybe because I've just made it more of a habit. But it became more of a habit through conscious initiation.
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#12
Hello Arocarty,

I agree with what you say. I tend to avoid anything which seems mechanical as for me it causes strain. But I reckon when a person has a good enough level of relaxation, conscious shifting is a lot easier and feels more natural. I think that maybe a lot of people need to get the balance right between actively doing something but not trying too hard. Sometimes I have kept on trying a technique until it only causes more strain. When I have stopped trying to do anything, relaxation came and improved vision. Somehow after that point, the initial relaxation becomes apathy or a lack of attention and then dullness of sight returns. Then I am inclined to do something active again. And so the wheel goes round...I have wondered if there is any way off this merry-go-round. I am very interested in the role of attention at the moment and shifting is a major part of this, but I do not want to force shifting. I think I just need to recognise when my attention has got stuck and then actively shift it. As for a greater level of relaxation, I think that is coming as I am beginning to grasp a little bit about the value of certain exercises which used to cause a lot of strain.
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#13
jimboaxeman Wrote:When I have stopped trying to do anything, relaxation came and improved vision. Somehow after that point, the initial relaxation becomes apathy or a lack of attention and then dullness of sight returns. Then I am inclined to do something active again. And so the wheel goes round...I have wondered if there is any way off this merry-go-round.

I think you answered you own question here:

jimboaxeman Wrote:I think that maybe a lot of people need to get the balance right between actively doing something but not trying too hard.

Finding that changing balance seems to be right. To me, it's something that I lazily avoid for some reason. Maybe because I want a more definite cure, as if I am avoiding responsibility. Becoming more familiar with that balance is easier said that done, but I think it involves becoming more aware or your strains, in each moment, over time, so that you can counter them, and replace them with better habits. Getting better and better at that, to me it seems, would lead to some real progress.
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#14
Couldn't think of another place to put this, but it's related.

So, if you place more attention on a smaller area that means in order to see more things, you will have to shift that small point of attention to each of those things in turn. On the other hand, if you are fixating, staring, whatever you call it, then you may be trying to see things in your periphery. I'm not sure how far away from your central vision this periphery is, but I notice strain when trying to see things that are definitely far out in the periphery.

So the choices are, either look at what you are trying to see with your periphery, or focus more on your central vision. I think this is where it gets fuzzy, no pun intended. When should you move to what is in your periphery, and when should you focus on your central vision? I guess let me clarify, that maybe this thing that attracted your attention to the periphery has just now happened, so you have that split second, sometimes unconscious choice to look towards it or not. So I guess it comes down to how interesting of a possibility that thing in the periphery really is, and is it worth shifting to.

If myopes have a disharmony between their attention and where their eyes move, then it makes sense to me at least, to question this: Why did I just look at something? Why DIDN'T I just look at that thing? Why are you looking at what your looking at? Are you using your eyes in the best way that you can? Do you ever make "mistake" shifts where you are just shifting for the heck of it or because you thought a mild interest was enough to make you shift your eyes because you read that the normal eye shifts constantly?
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#15
For those who have improved their vision, how fast would you say you shift or do something with your eyes? I know it can bring a strain to think about the eyes, and to try and count the shifts, but if you had to estimate, what would it be? Now I'm sure also that the speed changes depending on your energy level and what not, but I'm guessing that even a tired person with normal sight would shift more frequently than an energetic myope. And also, I would be referring to even those minute shifts that can seem unconscious and hardly noticeable. I remember Bates saying something on the order of 70 shifts per second. That seems like a totally different frame of mind to be in. Something very quick. Refreshing very quickly. That basically means at least a slightly new stimulus 70 times a second. Thoughts?
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