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Stress and Sight

Like breathing, seeing is not something you need to do, rather it is something which you allow. Most people, however, do not appreciate that seeing is essentially a passive process. They strain to count the stars in the sky, to read the tiny print of newspapers, and to keep awake while studying organic chemistry long into the night. The conditions of civilized life place our minds and bodies under continual tension which blocks our ability to let seeing take place naturally.

The idea that poor eyesight is primarily a result of stress was pioneered by ophthalmologist William Bates, MD. The solution to our vision problems, according to Bates, is not to stop reading, or looking at the stars, or studying for an exam, but rather to relax the mental strain which supports the imperfect functioning of the eye in both near work and distant vision. Aldous Huxley was one of the many who succeeded in doing this. Relaxation is the key.

Here’s an exercise for relaxing the eyes:

Resting:

To relax your eyes is to relax your whole body. Since so much of our sensory input is visual, temporarily closing off this channel will almost immediately cause the rest of the body to slow down. Brain wave patterns change to a lower frequency as soon as the eyes are closed. Resting your eyes are an important way of reestablishing balance throughout the system and reducing unnecessary strain.

Palming:

This is a technique developed by Bates for relieving eye strain.

  • Sit or lie down and take a few moments to breathe deeply.
  • Now gently close your eyes.
  • Place the palms of your hands over your eyes, with your fingers crossing over your forehead.
  • Use memory and imagination to realize a perfect field of black. see it so black that you cannot recall anything blacker.
  • Do not try to produce any experience. Simply allow the blackness to happen.
  • Continue for 2 to 3 minutes, breathing easily.
  • Remove your hands from your eyes, and open them slowly.
  • Do this several times a day, or whenever you need to relax.

From The Wellness Workbook

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