Category Archives: Glasses

Episode 1: No Glasses for Sal

 

On the last day of 2016, I had the pleasure to interview Sal Meraz. Despite his advanced age, he doesn’t suffer from presbyopia (commonly called “old age sight”) and has never worn glasses, ever. We first met at a restaurant, where I witnessed his ease at reading the menu which was printed on blue paper, a rather low contrast.

In fact, he even renewed his drivers license last year! The only reason he is currently not driving is a bad fall that broke his leg in three areas. He cannot wait to get rid of his walker, which he currently uses to walk four miles daily. In addition to that, he rides his stationary bike every day while watching the news on TV.

He also reads the newspaper and two magazines daily, and stays in touch with family and friends by texting on his iPhone which he got a couple of years ago. And just in case you are wondering: He has not enlarged the type on his phone.

So what are his secrets to great health and perfect eyesight? Listen in and find out!

Listen on iTunes or Stitcher

Tight trapezius? Add shoulders to your self massage regimen

Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls are a fantastic and inexpensive tool to release tension in your body

In part 1 of this post I demonstrated a neck and head self massage to improve posture and eyesight. In addition to directly working on these areas, it’s important to massage the upper back muscles as well, namely the upper trapezius, levator scapulae and the rhomboids. The first two are contributing to the movement of the neck, and the rhomboids and the levator scapulae are responsible for lifting the shoulders up. We do this all the time when sitting hunched over at the computer, holding a phone between shoulders and ear, and even when doing yoga.

This constant state of elevation in the shoulders combined with stiffness in the neck mover muscles due to bad posture, stress, shallow chest breathing, sitting at the computer with a fixed gaze, creates major tension in the upper back, neck and head. All of which effects our eyesight.

While you can roll the neck and head muscles at your desk, you will need a wall or floor space (more intense) to do the following upper back release sequence. Do this short sequence after work or in the morning after waking. Best to roll directly on the skin for maximum shear in the myofascial tissues (and clothes tend to get rolled into the balls).

The video shows the sequence at the wall. For more intensity, do it on the floor.

1. Place the balls right above your shoulder blades in the center of the shoulders (not to close to neck). Step away from the wall and use your body weight to let the balls sink into your upper trapezius and levator scapulae. When on the floor, lift your pelvis up (you can put a yoga block under your hips for a more restorative version). Breathe deeply into belly and chest

2. Start crossfibering the muscles by bending and straightening your knees (wall) or by chugging your hips forward and back (floor). The balls will move up and down the shoulders, about 2 inches.

3. Then change the direction of the movement by moving side to side. The balls will glide along the edge of the shoulder blades from left to right, covering the whole width of the shoulder blades. When doing this on the floor, it helps to move the arms side the side, bending one at the time to create that sideways motion of the upper body.

4. Move the balls together and down to just under C7, the last cervical vertebrae. They will be right and left of the spine, touching each other. Repeat the chugging motion, moving the balls up and down a few inches, crossfibering the upper trapezius and rhomboid minor. When doing this on the floor, cradle your head in your hands.

5. While chugging, put more weight onto the left side for a few strides, then to the right. Wherever you feel more tightness, do it a bit longer.

6. Add a pin & stretch by moving the arms up in circle shape on an inhale and lower them down on the inhale. The movement should resemble the snow angel arms we did as kids.

7. Last stop is at T5/T6, roughly in the middle of the shoulder blades. Do a bit of moving up and down, then hug yourself and twist the upper body from side to side, putting weight onto one side at the time. This massages the rhomboid major and the trapezius.

Notice the difference after you have rolled these upper back muscles. You will feel relaxed, refreshed and be able to breathe more deeply. Your body and eyes will thank you!

Release neck pain to improve posture and eyesight

As a Bates Method and yoga teacher, I pay attention to the whole body, the posture and the breathing. For this post, we will only look at the upper body, specifically the neck, jaw and temples, since these areas are directly connected to tension and strain in our eyes. And with the help of the Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls, you can conveniently self massage these hot spots directly at your desk, while closing your eyes and giving them the rest they deserve.

Many of us spend hours, if not the whole day, sitting at the computer. Spine rounded in flexion, shoulders in protraction, internal rotation and elevation, head extended backwards, craned forward, or tilted sideways holding the phone between shoulder and ear, with the neck bearing the weight of the head. And our heads are heavy, about 11 pounds or 5 kg without hair. That constitutes roughly 8% of our body weight. Quite a lot of weight that our neck and shoulder muscles have to hold up there, all day long!

All of this sitting and slouching looking at the screen is creating muscle tension and weakness throughout the body, witnessed as bad posture and resulting lower back pain, neck stiffness, limited shoulder mobility or pain, tension headaches, migraines, jaw pain, TMJ, the list goes on. This in turn leads to an imbalanced posture from head to toe.

When looking at this from an eyesight perspective, it becomes obvious that some of the head tilts initiate from poor vision, e.g. craning the head forward when myopic, or tilting it back when presbyopia starts and the near point gets blurrier. But this also goes the other way. That is a whole new post, but just know that our head posture is a main contributor to astigmatism, and the angle or tilt of the head can directly be measured in the angle of your astigmatism. And staring at a screen up close for hours will most likely end in myopia.

Glasses are also a major reason for bad head posture and the resulting strain and pain. Are you tilting your head backwards when sitting at the computer? If you do, you probably wear bifocal or varifocal glasses. These lenses assume you are looking down when you are using the plus prescription in the lower part of the lens for near work, and straight ahead when looking at the distance. But the computer is straight ahead and near. To compensate, you need to crane your head backwards to access the lower part of the lens. This not only creates extraordinary neck tension, but starts or worsens any existing astigmatism.

The following therapy ball self massage sequence gets into the nooks and crannies of your tense muscles and fascia, the connective tissue which runs throughout your body. Its superficial layers are right under the skin, the deep layers in and between our muscles. The stiffer and harder the fascia, the more tense and stiff the muscles surrounded by it.

Start by breathing deeply into the belly five times, feeling it expand and collapse. Then let the breath ripple from the belly up into the chest on the inhale, letting it leave the body on a long exhale. Keep inhales and exhales equal in length. Continue this abdominal thoracic breath throughout the whole self massage sequence. It improves flood of blood and oxygen into your tissues and cells.

 

 

1. Place one of the balls at the lateral side of the neck. Test the waters by pressing the ball against the sternocleidomastoid muscle (the one you’ll use to turn your head backwards when changing lanes, tilt your head to the side and when looking down). If you feel tension there, spin the ball, winding up skin as you do. This alone stimulates the superficial fascia around the neck muscles, creating slide and glide between fascia and muscle which is important for smooth and pain-free movement.

2. Add some motion for a deeper tissue massage. Nod your head “yes” a few times, then “no”, turning it side to side.

3. Move the ball to another area on your neck and repeat.

4. Cup the ball in your hand and place it on the side of your jaw. The muscle you feel there is the masseter, the strongest muscle in the body. Turn your head slowly sideways as if saying half of a “no”, letting the ball crossfiber the masseter. This might be quite intense, so adjust the pressure with your hand or by leaning more or less into the ball. If you find a particularly tense spot, keep the ball on that area with sustained compression for a couple of breaths, then add a stretch by opening and closing the jaw.

5. Place the ball at your temple and roll it forward and back. You can also use sustained compression by just pressing it against one area, or spin the ball on the skin, gathering up superficial fascia. Remember to breathe deeply.

6. Repeat this on the other side. One side might need more attention than the other, because none of us is symmetrical.

7. Finish this tension tamer by gently drumming your fingers along the bony ridges of your eye sockets (above the eyebrows and along your cheek bones) and your temples.

For a quicker version (albeit without the spinning movement of the ball on the skin) you can massage jaw and temples at the same time by using the balls in the tote.

 

 

You can purchase The Yoga Tune Up® balls during a session at my practice, or by visiting yogatuneup.com  Should you order online, make sure to get the smallest size for this exercise, or the starter kit with differently sized balls which come in handy when massaging your whole body.

Part Two of this stress relieving sequence will include the shoulders, upper back and chest for a complete release of “tech neck”. When working these areas, you will need floor or wall space.

Please remember that while self care through neck and head massage is really important in your journey to improve your eyesight, you need to address the origins and causes of your poor posture and eye strain at the computer as well. Be it by getting rid of varifocal lenses, an ergonomic makeover of your workstation, improving your proprioception through yoga or other movement practices, learning the Bates Method to recognize eye strain in the first place, practicing the Bates Method to improve your vision, blinking and breathing, daily exercise, relieving mental strain, or just taking frequent breaks.

In fact, as you have probably figured out by now, all of the above mentioned changes are important for good eyesight and a healthy body and mind. If you only address the tension but not the root causes, the tension will come back quickly and your eyesight will not improve. It might even get worse.

The Science of Sunning or Without Light There Is No Vision

People often ask me why sunning your eyes is so beneficial? The short answer is that our cone cells need light to see colors and details, and sunlight is the healthiest source of light out there. If you want to know more about sunning your eyes, read on.

Have you ever been in a pitch black room without any light? Have you noticed that you don’t seem to see anything? However,  if there’s even the slightest bit of light, your eyes will adjust and give you some vision, although it’s black and white and rather grainy.

The word “Photo” literally means “light,” and the cells in our retina are called photoreceptor cells because without light, they don’t function. Looking at this anatomically, there are two basic type of cells, the rods and the cones. The rods are the ones that give you the black and white, grainy, soft focus night vision, and they’re also the ones providing most of your peripheral vision. This is the reason that peripheral vision at the outer edges doesn’t produce color, but you do see movement, and without that, we probably wouldn’t have survived as a species.

The other photoreceptors, the cone cells, are responsible for color and detail (or sharp focus) vision. The center of the retina, the macula, is packed with cone cells only, and therefore produces clear, sharp vision. They only work when there’s light, and they work best in detecting accurate colors when the light is bright, as sunlight is. Without light, they would slowly deteriorate.

Yet we have been told by the media, the optical industry and most optometrists (who sells sunglasses too) that we will damage our eyes or, even worse, become blind if we don’t shield our eyes from the sun. Now I’m not talking about extreme conditions such as a polar expedition, climbing in the Himalayas or piloting a plane at 30,000 ft. I’m talking about our daily lives which are spent mostly indoors, working in some type of building with often tinted windows and artificial light sources. We then walk to our cars or the train station and sit inside again, shielded from the sun. Maybe we hike or bike on the weekends, or even drive to the beach or lake. But often we run errands that require being indoors again other than the part of getting there.

And how many now immediately put sunglasses on if there is even the slightest ray of sunshine coming from above? People often say they do this because they are so light sensitive. Is that any wonder if their eyes are never exposed to natural sunlight?

Do a simple test to see if you are truly light sensitive. Go outside into the sun.  You might not be able to look straight ahead if it’s a bright day and want to put your sunglasses on. Instead put your hand parallel to the ground at the level of your eyebrows as if you wore a baseball cap or hat.  Is it still too bright? Or did the shield do the trick? The reality is that it’s not so much the light itself that is too bright but the angle of the sunlight hitting the eye. Additionally, the overall brightness of the environment affects how strongly we perceive the light, due to the reflective properties of the environment. White reflects the most light, whereas black reflects the least.

Wearing a hat or cap is a much better option for your eyes than wearing sunglasses
Wearing a hat or cap is a much better option for your eyes than wearing sunglasses

Unless you have an eye disease such as macular degeneration, a second occurrence of cataracts, uveitis, conjunctivitis, corneal abrasion (e.g. through Lasik), a viral infection or another illness that makes you more light sensitive (e.g. migraine), or are taking medications that produce light sensitivity, you probably aren’t photophobic (light sensitive). If you do suffer from MD or secondary cataracts, do not do sunning.

Sensitivity to light is also common in most visual disorders, especially myopia and astigmatism. Wearing tinted glasses (the ones that get darker with more light) not only make the light sensitivity worse but often the refractive error as well, since the amount of light available has a big effect on clarity when vision is not perfect to begin with. So in addition to increasing light sensitivity, these tinted prescription glasses also decrease visual acuity in the long run and will often result in the need for stronger glasses. Just what the optometrist ordered.

If you are so light sensitive that you cannot gaze at the horizon line on even an overcast day, you will need to reverse the light sensitivity first before being able to improve your myopia or astigmatism.

Knowing that the cone cells are needed to produce the clear vision that we all want, it would make sense to do anything to keep them healthy. Light is like a vitamin for them. So shutting light exposure down by sitting in dark offices and wearing sunglasses outside is depriving those cells. Not only do we need sunlight to generate Vitamin D, but it’s also been shown that increasing exposure to this type of lightmake us happier. If you are still light sensitive, wear a hat or cap when you go out in the middle of day to prevent any strain which might cause you to squint your eyes.

Sunning is the important thing you can do to eliminate light sensitivity and allow you to improve your vision. Therefore it’s one of the core eye relaxation and improvement techniques of the Bates Method. You can do it anywhere, and anytime, but it’s best if you do it outside when the sun shines, and without the barrier of a glass window between the sun and your eyes. If you live in a part of the world where the sun tends to be elusive, especially during the winter months, you can do it inside, using a high wattage white infrared lamp, like the ones used in bathrooms and in the food catering industry, as they emit a nice amount of heat in addition to bright light. More on that further down.

 

How to do basic sunning

Go outside and face the sun. If you are just starting out and are used to wearing sunglasses whenever outside, do it in the early morning or late afternoon hours when the sun is lowest. Otherwise any time of day is fine.

Gently close your eyes and feel the warmth and light of the sun on your closed eyelids. Closing the eyes helps relax them, especially when there’s still some light sensitivity present. It also helps to turn the visual “faucet” off to let the mind truly relax. Think of this as a mini spa treatment for your eyes and brain. Let your mind drift to pleasant thoughts to further the relaxation.

Now slowly and deeply inhale and turn your head to the left side. Feel the gentle stretch in the neck and notice that your left eye is now shaded by your nose. Be aware of the difference in light strength. Exhale and turn your head to the right, noticing your right eye now being in the shade and your left eye receiving more light and warmth. Also be aware of the center when both eyes get an equal amount of light. Your head movement will look as if you are saying “no”.  Do it slowly and gently, breathing deeply. Let the breath initiate the turns of the head.

Keep going back and forth, turning your head sideways as far as your neck allows you. If your chin doesn’t go all the way to the shoulder for a 180 degree head turn, do not force it. With daily sunning, your tight neck and shoulder muscles will also relax and release tension, which will in turn improve blood flow to the brain and help you to improve your vision. Tight neck and shoulder muscles are a big contributor to tension in the eyes and vision problems.

If you notice a lot of tension in the neck, you can also do a few “yes” movements with your head, tilting the head slightly back as you inhale and moving the chin toward your chest as you exhale. Keep the shoulder blades relaxed and the trapezius muscle away from the ears as you move your head. Let your eyes come along for the ride, and they should feel as relaxed as a kid on a swing that is being pushed by a parent. The eyes do not initiate any movement when sunning.

Sun for five to ten minutes or however long you can. You can stand or sit. If in public, you can turn your head even slower and take full breaths between sides, so it’s more inconspicuous and nobody will notice that your eyes are at the spa!

If you are at work and see the sun breaking through the clouds, do it at your office window right then and there, even if just for a minute or two. Anything is better than nothing. And if the sun is shy and barely shows itself, don’t wait for a specific time, since the sun might be gone for the rest of the day.

Sunning should always be followed by palming, ideally twice as long as you did the sunning. If that is not an option, palm at least until any potential after images or colors have faded and your visual field with eyes closed is dark again.

 

Additional benefits of sunning

In addition to reducing any light sensitivity and supporting relaxation of eyes and mind, sunning has these benefits:

  • The shift from shadow to light when turning the head will slightly open and close the pupils which strengthens the pupillary reflex
  • The pupillary reaction will gently massage the lens capsule and stimulate the photoreceptor cells in the retina without the need for sharp focus
  • The warmth of the sunlight and the movement of the head will release tension and it improves blood flow to the neck and shoulder muscles which consequently relaxes the facial muscles (all these muscles are connected and tension in the neck and shoulders often carries over to the face including the eyes)
  • The deep breathing improves flow of oxygen to the brain which the eyes are a part of. The brain uses 25% of all oxygen while only weighing about 2% of your body weight,  and 1.5 pints of blood circulate through the brain every single minute! Consider this and breathe deeply.
  • Sunning is so enjoyable and restful that you are more likely to take little breaks from the computer that don’t habitually involve smoking or eating unhealthy snacks. It might also help to take your tea or coffee break outside and combine it with some sunning and palming.
  • Sun exposure is the only natural way for the body to get enough vitamin D, which is needed to absorb calcium to keep bones strong and healthy. A lack of vitamin D has also been linked with cognitive impairment.

 

Sunning reactions or discomforts

Sunning should feel really nice on your eyes, neck and shoulders. If you feel any discomfort, it’s most likely due to tension in those areas. If  the neck hurts when turning your head, turn it less in the beginning and do not tilt the head back as much. Maybe you could even get a massage to release any deeper muscle tension.

Should your eyes get watery, itchy or start to twitch, it’s usually a symptom of the intense strain you’re carrying in your eyes. Continue to do the sunning in a relaxed way, and it will slowly melt that tension away. Maybe do it for shorter periods or only with the morning or evening sun until the worst strain is released.

If facing the sun with closed eyes is too strong even in the morning or late afternoon hours, start practicing on an overcast day or stand with your back to the sun, and work from there (once that feels comfortable you can proceed by facing the sun).

Remember, always palm after sunning for double the amount of time, or until any afterimages have dissolved.

 

Making your own sun

If the real sun is not shining, you can fake it by using a 250W heat light, also called white infrared bulb. They are sold at hardware stores or online, and are usually used in bathrooms or for food catering to light the food and keep it warm.

You’ll need to use a lamp that can handle those high wattage light bulbs though, so check your lamp beforehand. The cheapest option is to buy a metal clamp lamp like the one pictured. It’s very inexpensive and available at hardware stores in the construction aisles.

The sunning itself is done exactly like outdoors. Depending on where you mount or place your heat lamp, you will either stand or sit when doing the sunning indoors. Distance should be about 3 ft / 1 m,  but this depends on your personal comfort. You’ll want to feel the warmth and the light but not end up with red skin from the heat.

Make sure to keep your head level when turning side to side. The head should only tilt back when you do the up and down motion instead of moving from side to side.

When traveling you can also use a strong flashlight and just move it back and forth over one eye, then the other. Hold it as close to your eye lids as feels good. Do three sets with palming in between. Flashlights won’t emit that much heat, but the light in and of itself is very beneficial, especially in the darker winter months.

 

Advanced sunning techniques

Once your eyes get used to sunning, you can deepen the technique in following ways:

  • Open your eyes when your head is turned to the sides,  blinking rapidly when eyes are open (start this in an environment that doesn’t have extremely bright objects such as white houses on your sides).
  • Hold your hands in front of your eyes with your fingers spread and rapidly move them in opposite directions, while turning your head side to side with your eyes open, and blink rapidly. The fingers provide a filter that will allow some sun to enter our eyes without being too strong (see picture).
An advanced technique has the eyes open while your hands are moving rapidly in opposite directions, creating a sun filter.
An advanced technique has the eyes open while your hands are moving rapidly in opposite directions, creating a sun filter.

 

There are further techniques beyond this, but this has to be taught in a lesson where the teacher can observe the student and make sure there is no strain involved. If you are interested in a session, please contact me at 310.462.2462 or email me at claudia (at) batesvision.com (and this can be done via Skype, FaceTime, Google hangouts or other modern video technologies if you are not able to come in person).

The Practice of Palming

Different people — different hand and body positions while palming.

 

Why Palming?

New clients often ask me if it’s not more important to do eye exercises than to palm the eyes. After all, aren’t the eyes getting enough rest when sleeping? Shouldn’t the eye muscles be trained instead of relaxed?

The answer is, of course No. The eyes are not really resting while we sleep, especially in the REM phases of dreaming. Scientists have proven that the eyes accommodate to the objects we are “looking at” in our dreams. 90% of our sensory input comes through the visual system! Moreover, palming gives our eyes not only much needed rest from computer and other eye straining work, but it is the best and easiest tool to relearn to relax the eyes.

 

Relaxation vs. Rest

Just to make this clear: Rest and relaxation are not the same thing. Palming is rest for the eyes, through which relaxation can be achieved most easily for most people. A feeling many cannot even remember in their muscle memory, so learning what relaxation feels like is the most important first step in improving your eyesight. Once you can achieve that state of relaxation with eyes closed, you can apply that feeling when your eyes are open for clear, relaxed, effortless vision. The more relaxed your vision gets and the less you strain while using your eyes, the less palming you’ll need.

Bates practitioners know that relaxation is the only way to have clear vision. This is not easy to learn after years of strain and tension being carried in the eyes, facial and body muscles. Palming (and sunning) offer the beginner and the advanced practitioner the opportunity to slip into the rejuvenating pool of relaxation, letting go of tension, stress, worries…. The darkness, energy and warmth of the hands covering the eyes lets muscles and the mind relax. Without a relaxed mind, we literally cannot focus, visually and mentally.

“Seeing” deep black while palming is the mind’s feedback that we are relaxed. This is the ultimate confirmation of relaxation but it cannot be achieved with force or will power — only letting go and fully immersing yourself into the experience can get you there. This means accepting that your visual field in front of your closed eyes might be gray, grainy, cloudy, wavey or shows glimpses of color today. But maybe tomorrow it will be black. Accepting something does not mean you don’t want to change it. It just means that you have learned to be patient with your progress, the only way to get you to your goal of total relaxation and clear vision.

 

Cover your eyes with cupped hands, crossing them over the nose so no light comes in.
Cover your eyes with cupped hands, crossing them over the nose so no light comes in.

 

Mindful and Meditative

Practicing the Bates Method has therefore more to do with a mindful, meditative practice than an exercise regimen. What I mean by that is the activities let our minds relax as much as the eyes, a necessary prerequisite for perfect vision. Our vision is 90% mind and only 10% eyes. Doing pure eye muscle training as in traditional vision therapy is helpful for vision problems related to muscle & fusion imbalance, but there comes a point where that alone is not enough. And the reason is that vision therapy ignores the mind and focuses on the eye muscles only. Vision therapy would benefit from including the Bates relaxation approach, and hopefully one day that will happen!

 

When to Palm

Palming is useful as a remedy for tired, strained, dry eyes, when your vision gets blurry after a long day, or when getting a headache. If you have recurring symptoms like the ones described, you would ideally prevent them from occurring by palming beforehand. Or as a regular routine, e.g. in the morning and evening, to start and end each day with the memory of relaxed eyes. Think of it as maintenance like stretching your muscles after exercise to stay flexible and nimble.

 

How to Palm

There are so many descriptions of palming online that I don’t want to reiterate them here, but instead give useful tips based on the issues I hear most often (I am happy to introduce you to palming in more detail during a session if you have questions that go beyond the information here). Palming is beneficial on it’s own, and should always be done after any other vision activity to rest the eyes and “capture” the release of tension. If you are very restless and antsy, do a movement activity like the sway or long swing before palming. Oftentimes the inner visual field is blacker when palming after stimulating the eyes with movement.

 

Palming Position

The key to successful palming is a comfortable position. Find a place in your home where you are happy to be at. This might be a comfy armchair in a light corner, a bench in the garden or your couch. There are many positions that can work, see images and descriptions below. Most important if you want to palm for more than a few minutes is elbow support. Without it, your arms will tire quickly, tensing up the shoulders and neck. There are several ways to support the elbows, depending on your position: pillows, blankets, table top, knees, back of the chair, or a palming stick, invented by James Laker and now produced by Stephen Poytner in the UK (more on how to get one later).

The position can vary throughout the day, you might palm laying in the bed in the morning with pillows propped under your upper arms, using your office table with a stack of books during the lunch break, straddling a chair with the back serving as an elbow rest at home, and sit in your favorite comfy chair in the evening, supporting your elbows with cushions or the palming stick. Relax the shoulders and neck. The head and neck should be more or less upright, you don’t want the head to tilt back or forward, the hands should not support the weight of the head, but just cover the eyes.

Keep your legs relaxed, with feet flat on the floor (except when laying down). You want to feel grounded and connected, not twisted up like a pretzel. That also helps blood circulation. So make sure you are not crossing over the legs or ankles but keep the legs parallel. Lean back in the chair if that is comfortable.

 

Make sure to prop elbows up when palming at a table, so the head is not resting too heavily on the hands.
Table: Make sure to prop elbows up when palming at a table, so the head is not resting too heavily on the hands.
Leaning against a wall and squatting down, using the knees for elbow support can also work.
Knees: Leaning against a wall and squatting down, using the knees for elbow support can also work.
A palming stick makes palming comfortable anywhere.
Palming Stick: A palming stick makes palming comfortable anywhere.

 

Hands

The hands should be cupped slightly, the edges of the palms resting on the bony part around the eyes. No pressure should be felt on the eyes themselves. Cross your hands over the nose and move your fingers so no light comes in anywhere, without pressing on the nose (you still want to breathe easily). Then close your eyes, relax facial muscles, especially the jaw, and let shoulders get heavy. You want to relax the body completely.

Should you have trouble positioning the hands so all the light is excluded without straining the hands, find a comfortable place in the dark area of your home, or invest in dark curtains so you can darken the room. This is preferable to using eye masks for palming, since you are losing the beneficial energy and warmth only the hands can provide.

 

Methods of Relaxation

If you find it hard to relax your mind while palming and feel like a million thoughts are racing through your mind, don’t fight them — they will win. Instead, use one of the following techniques. But remember not to “think” with your eyes as this will prevent deep relaxation. Since the visual cortex is at the back of the brain and the hippocampus (where we “reassemble” memories) in the center of the brain, bring up thoughts or visual memories from the back of the head versus the eyes.

  1. Feel your eyes get heavy and sleepy, resting in their plush sockets. Think of the them tilting slightly downward
  2. Think of a favorite moment, person, event, location, smell, object. Remember the relaxation and happiness you felt. If you are a visual thinker and feel that you are using your eyes to conjure up the memory, use another way to relax such as observing your breath or listening to music.
  3. Find a “Foundation Object” to induce relaxation. A foundation object is something you remember so easily and perfectly that the memory of it requires no effort.
  4. Observe your breath, feel your out breaths get longer and longer. You can also count the breath
  5. Listen to music that relaxes you and/or makes it easier to remember favorite moments
  6. Repeat a mantra in your mind (meditation technique)
  7. “Write” a love letter to your eyes in your mind, describe how fresh they look, how beautiful they are and how clearly they can see. Scientists have proven that imagining something creates a 70% higher chance of it actually happening. So imagine your eyes with perfect vision!

 

How long to Palm

It really depends on your situation. In general older people benefit from longer palming sessions whereas children are often relaxed after a minute or two. Experiment and see what gets you the best results. In general, palming twice a day for a longer period (15-30 minutes, e.g. morning and evening) and then as needed during the day is a great way to start when you want to improve your vision. If you suffer from an eye disease, longer palming is necessary to give your eyes the much needed rest. Keep a daily log of your palming and write down how you felt afterwards. You might quickly notice a pattern, and then custom tailor your palming frequency and length to what works best for you.

 

Palming Sticks

The pictured palming sticks come with two different base sticks: A shorter one for children or for placement on top of legs (e.g. when wearing a skirt), and a longer one for adults.

Details: The poles are aluminum, the fittings are magnesium, the top and bottom is made from birch plywood, the stiffeners are canadian maple, the top is closed cell foam (can be wiped clean with a damp cloth). They cost £35 each, shipping varies (£11 to the US).

They can be ordered directly from Stephen Poynter in the UK:

steve (at) stephenpoynter.plus.com
+44 (0) 1708764512

Los Angeles area residents can also purchase them from Batesvision (pick up only). Cost is $75.

Palming sticks available directly from maker Stephen Poytner (UK): stephen.poynter (at) ntlworld.com or from Batesvision (please send email).
Palming sticks available directly from maker Stephen Poytner (UK) or from Batesvision in Los Angeles

 

Vision Walk October 25, 2012 in Hamburg-Stellingen

 

I will conduct a vision walk in Hamburg Stellingen on Thursday October 25 at 12:30 pm. We’ll meet at 12:20 p.m. in front of the big giraffe statue at the U-Bahn Hagenbeck’s Tierpark (U2 or several bus lines). The walk will take one hour and will be held in English and/or German, depending on participants needs. Cost is €5,00. Please be ready to put your glasses or contacts away during the walk.

You will learn the basic techniques of natural vision improvement and how to incorporate healthy vision habits into your daily life. Please register by sending an email to claudia@batesvision.com or rsvp on our facebook page

No walk if it pours! Children are welcome to join, just let me know in advance if you bring little ones.

Meeting Point Giraffe

October 26-28: 3rd British Natural Eyesight Conference. Reserve your space now!

 

If you or a loved one suffers from Low Vision or Eye Disease and have possibly been told by the doctors that there is nothing that can be done to improve the vision, you should come to this conference near London.

Renowned speakers from all over the world will talk about natural methods of eyesight improvement for low vision or eye diseases. There are also several workshops that will demonstrate a variety of techniques, based on the Bates Method. It’s never too late to improve your eyesight, however poor it might be. Any leftover vision can be improved! Learn how to see better and feel better at this conference. Get inspired to change your habits and show your ophthalmologist that he was wrong when he told you you’ll be blind in a few years!

For more details and to book your ticket, visit http://www.bnec.org.uk/

The conference will take place at the Felden Lodge, situated in a beautiful large park in Hemel Hempstead, about 30 mins west of London:

Felden Lodge in Hemel Hempstead, home of the conference
The Conference will be held at Felden Lodge in Hemel Hempstead, 30 minutes west of London.
FeldenBench
A restful place across the entrance to Felden Lodge in Hemel Hempstead.
FeldenPark
Felden Lodge has a very large park with old beautiful trees, perfect to give eyes and mind a break during the conference.
FeldenTrees
Nature is beautiful and bountiful at Felden Lodge. How many shades of green can you count?

Here are some images from the last conference which was focused on Children’s Vision:

Meir Schneider helping an attendee with his balance, key to good vision
Meir Schneider helping an attendee with his balance, key to good vision
Sylvia Lakeland teaching attendees peripheral vision
Sylvia Lakeland teaching attendees peripheral vision
Palming is easy when you have shoulders to lean on, get on the palming train!
Palming is easy when you have shoulders to lean on, get on the palming train!
Panel talk at the end of the 2010 conference
Panel talk at the end of the 2010 conference

© All Photography by Claudia Muehlenweg

How much clarity do YOU need?

Let your eyes relax and details will appear as you move your eyes from leaf to leaf

That is a question that I have started to ask my clients because clarity is not felt the same by everybody and that the level of clarity somebody needs is very individual. Some people have 20/20 or close to 20/20 vision and still wear glasses because they feel they need the 20/10 clarity of an eagle or fighter pilot. Even when I tell them that all you need for driving is 20/40 vision (in most states), they want the best clarity the optometrists chart has to offer, even if it had felt clear before it was measured.

I wonder if that has to do with control and competition. And if letting go of the concepts of control/power over others (and your life in general) and having to be better than others is the prerequisite of letting go of strain which is the only way vision and therefore clarity can improve? Which means accepting that a little less clarity is the only gateway to more?

It’s possible to achieve 20/10 vision naturally. But before you start doing some useless mechanical eye exercises, ask yourself: which level of clarity is fine for me to start this process? Am I OK to see less clear, at least for sometime during the day? Would I actually prefer not to wear glasses because they restrict my field of vision, distort colors and proportions and weaken my visual acuity eventually?

If you answer YES, the next question is: Am I ok with 20/40 or 20/70 or even less vision in most circumstances in the beginning? Can I let go of the need to control everything and just trust that my vision will be good enough to carry me through whatever I am doing (obviously not driving or operating heavy machinery when vision is very poor)? If you can answer this with YES, you can improve your vision naturally.

Beautiful blossoms: You don't need 20/20 vision for most activities during your day — or to enjoy nature.
You don’t need 20/20 vision for most activities during your day — or to enjoy nature.

There are other people who only wear their glasses when absolutely necessary. Not because they want to improve their vision, but because they intuitively know that glasses are not good for them, and create a barrier between them and others.

Most people I meet that feel this way are nearsighted and work with other people, be it in a therapeutic or other situation such as a retail experience. They don’t like the way glasses feel and the disconnection it creates. But, they have also gotten very comfortable with the lack of clarity and like to almost hide in that blurriness that “protects” from seeing all the things that are out there. They literally don’t want that clarity. And there is the reason why they became myopic in the first place.

If you feel this describes you, you need to get peel off the layers of this “love of blurriness” before any major vision improvement will happen for most of you. Good vision habits will help to improve your vision initially like they do for everybody, but for major change you need to investigate why you don’t feel you should have clarity.

Exactly like the control lovers who want pilot fighter clarity no matter how need to figure out why they are so afraid of a loss of clarity (=control). And when you get down to that level, clarity will come naturally, especially when you learn how to relax your eyes with the Bates Method. Because the relaxation of the mind AND the eyes is needed to let go of the things that keep you from the clarity you want.

Vision walk in Hamburg Altona April 10th, 2011

 

I am doing another vision walk (see previous post). This time in Hamburg Altona. We meet at 3 p.m. in front of the museum in Altona. The walk will take about 1.5 hours and will be held in English and/or German, depending on participants needs. Cost is €5,00. Please be ready to put your glasses or contacts away during the walk.

You will learn the basic techniques to natural vision improvement and how to incorporate healthy vision habits into your daily life. Please register by commenting here or sending an email to claudia@batesvision.com. Or call me at 0173/8257058.

No walk if it pours! Children are welcome to join, just let me know in advance if you bring little ones.


Größere Kartenansicht

Augen-Spaziergang zur 8. Woche des Sehens (Hamburg, Germany)

Dog-in-park
Lassen Sie den Blick öfters bis zum Horizont schweifen, das entspannt die Augen nach der vielen Naharbeit

Vom 8.-15. Oktober 2010 findet zum achten Mal die Woche des Sehens statt. „Wenn die Augen schwächer werden …“ ist das diesjährige Motto der Aufklärungskampagne, die unter der Schirmherrschaft der Fernsehjournalistin Gundula Gause steht. Seit dem Jahr 2002 machen die Partner und Veranstalter der Woche des Sehens mit vielfältigen Aktionen bundesweit auf die Bedeutung guten Sehvermögens, die Ursachen vermeidbarer Blindheit sowie die Situation blinder und sehbehinderter Menschen in Deutschland und in den Entwicklungsländern aufmerksam.

Eine beliebte Möglichkeit die Potenziale des Sehtrainings kennenzulernen sind Augenspaziergänge. Im Rahmen eines Spaziergangs in der Natur lernen Teilnehmer das gesunde Sehen kennen und wie sie ihre Sehkraft mit einfachen, natürlichen Methoden verbessern können.

Auch ich biete zu diesem Anlass einen Augenspaziergang in Hamburg an. Am Sonntag, den 10. Oktober lade ich alle, die ihr natürliches Sehen verbessern wollen, zu diesem informativen und entspannenden Ausflug ein.

Wir treffen uns vor dem Bahnhof Hamburg Ohlstedt, das ist die letzte Station der blauen U1 Linie. Start ist um 14:30 Uhr, Ende gegen 16:00 Uhr. Zum Schluss kann jeder seinen Geschmackssinn mit einem leckeren Eis vom Eisbär Eislokal belohnen. Vorausgesetzt, das Wetter spielt mit. Bei Regen wird der Spaziergang leider ausfallen, ich werde dann alle angemeldeten Teilnehmer über einen neuen Termin informieren.

Ich bitte auch um vorherige Anmeldung, damit ich genügend Unterlagen dabei habe und besser planen kann. Da wir unsere Sehkraft nur verbessern können wenn wir keine korrektiven Linsen tragen, sollten Sie ein Brillenetui oder Kontaktlinsendose dabei haben. Keine Angst, auch stark Kurzssichtige können ohne Sehhilfe teilnehmen, wir lassen uns viel Zeit in einer wunderschönen Umgebung.

Baume laden zum Tasten ein
Enlasten Sie die Augen, indem Sie z.B. auch mal den Tastsinn einsetzen und die Baumrinde erfühlen
In der Natur sind die schönsten Farben oft die Gefährlichsten
Wenn die Aufmerksamkeit auf den Moment gelenkt wird, sieht man mehr, auch ohne Brille