Normal eyes are relaxed eyes.  Like all of the other senses (touch, smell, sound, taste) vision is effortless.  Any type of strain, whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, is the antithesis of proper vision.  Strain may appear in the form of squinting eyes, ruffled brow, tense facial muscles, clenching jaw, mental stress, constant worrying, over-analyzing, etc.  If strain declines vision, the opposite of strain, relaxation, must favor vision.  All the practices of the Bates Method aim toward one common goal: relaxation.  Relaxation of the eyes, relaxation of the body, relaxation of the mind.


The reason relaxation is so powerful has to do with the nature of vision.  Vision is a part of the involuntary system.  Similar to the heart, the lungs, and the digestive system, which function rhythmically without conscious thought, the focusing ability of the eyes, called accommodation, is also involuntary.  To get an understanding of this, make a tight fist and squeeze as hard as you can.  This strain would make it difficult to write your name or paint a picture.  The only way to perform that act would be to relax the hand, so your mind consciously commands your hand to relax and it releases.  The case of the eyes is different.  The tension and strain in the extrinsic eye muscles are squeezing the eyeball out of shape, resulting in visual blur.  Since they are involuntary, the mind cannot consciously command them to relax.  The only way to get those muscles to release is indirectly through the involuntary system.  All of the Bates Method practices start with conscious relaxation, which in turn gets picked up by the central nervous system and eventually the involuntary system.  Therefore, we are coaxing clear vision as a byproduct of total relaxation of the mind and body.