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Did you know that you do not see with your eyes? The eyes are simply organs that receive light. This light strikes the retina and sends impulses through the optic nerve to the visual cortex in the back of the brain, which interprets these signals. So you do not see with your eyes, but rather with your mind.
According to Dr. Bates, vision is approximately 90% mental and only 10% physical. This further solidifies the fact that the Bates Method is different than simply performing eye exercises. Much more emphasis is placed on the mental side of vision and the relationship between the mind and the eyes. Referred to as Eye-Mind Connection, the realignment of eyes, body, mind and breath is of utmost importance in relearning to see. When undergoing the Bates Method we literally carve new neural pathways in the brain and activate muscles and glands that have been dormant for months, years or even decades. New neural pathways cannot be carved overnight, so stick with it and remain receptive to the transformational process.
My teacher, Dr. Taber, repeated a phrase over and over throughout my training: “The Eyes Attend the Thoughts.” It took me a while to truly understand what this meant. This phrase refers to the mental side of seeing, the power of the mind and the power of suggestion. The eyes attend the thoughts when eye-mind connection is reestablished. In other words, the eyes focus where the mind sends its attention. You can experience this phenomenon yourself. Hold your thumb up six inches in front of your nose. With your eyes open, bring your mind’s attention to the thumb and the eyes will follow, focusing on the thumb. Now close your eyes and think about looking at a snow-capped mountain range several miles away. When you open your eyes back up they will no longer be looking at the thumb up close, but will have traveled across the room. You can experience the opposite by holding your thumb up six inches from your nose. With your eyes open, bring your mind’s attention across the room or out a window and the eyes will focus out beyond the thumb. Close your eyes and bring the mind’s attention to the thumb in front of your face. Open your eyes and notice that your eyes have jumped from the distance back to the thumb.
So what is the practical application of this? Well I encourage people working with Myopia or nearsightedness to think “Far Out Thoughts” and people working with Hyperopia or farsightedness to think “Up Close Thoughts”. Since the nearsighted eye is held in the elongated shape for near vision, simply by closing the eyes and thinking about looking far out into the distance the eye assumes the shape for distant vision. Since the farsighted eye is held in the flattened shape for distant vision, simply by closing the eyes and thinking about looking up close the eye assumes the shape for near vision. The eyes have nothing to focus on when they are closed, so we must use our imagination to visualize the near or far object perfectly clear. Imagining or remembering perfect clarity with eyes closed is a necessary and preliminary step to take before we can experience perfect clarity with eyes open.
Let’s say you work in an office that demands long hours of up-close activities involving paperwork, reading or computer use. Every ten to twenty minutes you need to give your eyes a break from focusing at the near point and let them relax by gazing up into the distance. Glancing out a window is the best option. If no windows are visible or open then looking at an object at least fifteen or twenty feet away will suffice. After twenty or thirty seconds of looking up and away, close your eyes and think “far-out thoughts” of crystal clear objects miles away from where you are sitting for another twenty or thirty seconds. This is an excellent way to combat Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and you may even find that you become more focused and productive when you open your eyes and return to the near point.
I invite you to explore the relationship that exists between your eyes and your mind. Dr. Bates’ extensive research indicated that the mind entirely influences the vision. He pinpointed mental strain as the primary cause for refractive errors and visual imbalances. Therefore, the best thing we can do to improve our vision is to decrease mental strain through mental visualization and relaxation. The importance of visualization is so vast that it warrants a separate blog post for more specific detail and instruction.