Yoga for Your Eyes
How much do you know about how your eyes work? Probably you don’t think about them very much – only when something goes wrong and then you realize how precious they are. In fact, you probably spend more time being concerned about your teeth!
Date: 3/9/2009 8:18:13 PM ( 14 y ) ... viewed 2857 times
Yoga for Your Eyes with Meir Schneider, PhD
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Natural Vision Improvement
by International Vision Trainer
“All theory, my friend is grey
But green is life’s glad golden tree.”
Mephistopheles to his student Faust, in Goethe’s Faust
“It is a truly deep question, how much of our experience is received from the senses and what is created by the brain, though apparently out there. … Common sense has been shocked by science; though after three hundred years it is generally not known that colours and sounds are products of brains, they still seem to be out there belonging to objects.” (1)
There is a lot we still need to learn about the eye, new research is appearing from neuroscientists updating current information – despite the view of opticians in the 1940’s and 1950’s that there was no more to discover. (2) In February 2002 scientists at Brown University, Rhode Island, USa, announced the discovery of a third photoreceptor deep in the retina of rats eyes and it is quite likely we have the same cells. (The other two photoreceptors are rods and cones.) The new cells appears to play an important part in setting the body’s internal 24 hour clock. According to Dr David Benson “It is a visual system that runs parallel to the one we have been thinking about all these years. Now we have to rethink how the retina works and how the brain understands what is going on in the visual world.” (3)
Remember his lack of certainty if you are considering Lasik eye surgery and you should be aware that there is a risk to night vision. Current advice from the Food and Drugs Administration of the USA is: ‘A patient may no longer be able to drive a car at night or in certain weather conditions, such as fog.’ For this reason laser light correction is banned by the armed services, most police, fire and ambulance services and the CAA for pilots’ licences. (4) For further information see: http://www.surgicaleyes.com
the website of Surgical Eyes an organisation founded by people with longer term complications from refractive surgery.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is well known around the world as the study of subjective experience, developing in each individual a lively curiosity for the world they live in and an awareness of themselves. Practitioners of NLP are continually asking the question, of themselves and others, ‘How do you know what you know?’ and looking for pragmatic answers in terms of our senses (what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste). ‘Sub-modalities’ (5) are NLP’s label for the sub-divisions of our senses; neuroscience and philosophy use the term ‘qualia’ e.g. the shade of red or the qualities of a pain. (6) Any sensory input changes the body’s chemistry in one hundredth of a second. (7)
There is no doubt that our experience of sight is subjective. Have you ever lost a set of keys and subsequently found it where you had already looked. Often we don’t see something in a place where we don’t expect to find it.
How is it possible that so many people are now wearing glasses? In 1994/1995 it was estimated that 53% of the UK population was wearing glasses or contact lenses, that changed to 96% at age 55 and over. (8) This figure is rising.
Can this be attributed to Edison and the light bulb which has led to the 24/7 society?
Is it the increase in stress? Is it our diet? (Recent research has demonstrated a link between the increased insulin levels of a diet high in refined starches such as bread and cereals and myopia (short-sightedness) in children. It has also been observed that people are more likely to develop myopia if they are overweight or have adult-onset diabetes.) (9) Is it drugs? Over 200 prescription drugs can affect our eyes. Is it the increased use of VDU screens? Is it staring?
“The cause of imperfect sight is staring” (10)
Try this experiment now.
Stare straight ahead without blinking and stop breathing for as long as you can.
Our eyes are designed to be constantly on the move, our retinas quickly tire if their visual field is kept the same for a long time: when an image becomes stable on the retina it disappears.
Do you recognise the results of that experiment as being similar to times when you are stressed? This is often what happens to adults and children under test conditions.
Day dreaming has a similar effect. For that reason we recommend daydreaming with your eyes closed! Keep your eyes active and curious – imagine you have a paint brush at the end of your nose and paint around the edges of things in your sight.
What is your response to Deepak Chopra’s admonition that ‘nowadays we confuse normal with average. By common standards you can develop extraordinary eyesight and prevent cataracts happening in the future.’ He has improved his eyesight using some of the exercises mentioned Magical Mind, Magical Body tape set. (11)
Leonardo Da Vinci encouraged the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight as the means to enliven experiences. ‘He developed astonishing powers of sight bordering on those of a cartoon superhero. In his ‘Codex on the Flight of Birds’, for example, he recorded minutiae about the movements of feathers and wings that remained unconfirmed and not fully appreciated until the development of slow- motion moving pictures.’ (12)
On of the underlying beliefs in NLP is that if one person can do something, it must be possible for others. Many other people following on from Leonardo have improved their sight and written about it including: Dr William Bates MD (1860-1931), the writer Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), Jacob Liberman OD, PhD, Meir Schneider, and Janet Goodrich PhD (?-2001).
Vision: The Mind Side Workshops
I caught my enthusiasm for helping adults and children to improve their eyesight naturally by mistake! In 1995 when I was on an NLP Master Practitioner Health and Wellbeing Programme at the original birthplace of NLP, The University of Santa Cruz, California, I met a rather remarkable businessman who had reversed his own very poor eyesight and nolonger needed glasses. 3 years previously he had had a prescription of –5 diopters@ and was not able to see a colleague at the other side of the room without his glasses.
Leo Angart had come across the book TRANCE-formations. In it the co-founders of NLP Bandler and Grinder described how they were able, using Ericksonian, hypnosis to regress a man to a time when he didn’t wear glasses and bring him out of trance with the eyesight of his younger self. (13) Leo who had extensive training in the Silva Mind Method started on a quest to find out as much as possible to help him improve his own eyesight.
He wasn’t able to find a hypnotist to help him with the same process but he did use a form of healing known as Pranic Healing which he had first discovered in the Philippines. And that was all that he used.
The field of NLP is constantly growing as Practitioners model excellence in themselves and experts in different fields and teach it on to others. Leo eventually became an NLP trainer and analysed his own process as part of an NLP modelling course at the NLP University (organised by Robert Dilts and Judith DeLozier two of more of the early developers of NLP). He scoured all the relevant research he could find which included many weeks in the British Library. This formed the basis of the 2-day course Vision: The Mind Side and anther, Magic Eyes for children aged 8 - 12 which he has been teaching around the world for the last 9 years. So far his 70-page manual has been translated into Spanish, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Turkish, German, and he is currently writing a book about his work.
Leo Angart, originally from Denmark, worked in Hong Kong for over 20 years and now lives in Munich. He asked me to help him put on his course in London where, as well as being the catalyst to help people put aside their glasses, he also shows delegates how to help their friends and family. The methods used are a mixture of Bates exercises, energy healing, hypnosis and NLP belief change. We have run 23 workshops in London.
Anyone can benefit from vision re-education. Leo explores peoples’ outcomes for being on the course and the history of their eyesight All have passed the important self-filter of believing (or open to believe) that it was possible to improve their eyesight naturally. A few participants, like me, don’t need glasses and want to ensure that they won’t need them in the future. Others have just been prescribed glasses (often people who do a lot of work with computer screens) or may have been
wearing glasses like Leo for over 20 years. He offers exercises and information to help with presbyopia (old age sight), astigmatism, glaucoma, macula degeneration, cataracts, imperfect fusion, strabismus (cross-eyes) or ambiliopia (lazy eyes).
Leo Angart has 7 basic assumptions to this work: (14)
Vision is 90% in the mind
The eyes are only sense organs, all the actual ‘seeing’ takes place at the back of the brain where the two images are combined into a three dimensional impression
Clear vision is the natural state
Rural communities and people in native societies generally have perfect eyesight.
Less than 1% of the Inuit and Pacific Islanders had myopia early in the last century, this has now increased to 50%. In the islands of Vanuatu they have eight hours of schooling a day yet the rate of myopia in these children is only 2%.
Sight is a learned ability
Newborn infants initially only see the world as a blur and children’s eyes are not fully developed until around the age of 8.
The visual field is a mirror of our energy level
Dr Bates was the first to notice that natural vision varies throughout the day – sometimes by as much as 1 or 2 diopters. Everyone has experienced a reduction in visual acuity corresponding to the overall level of tiredness. One of the reasons that you feels so good after a summer holiday is that your visual system has enjoyed a lot more energy input from the best energy source of all – the sun.
If there is a high level of stress in your life (new job, exams, family problems) this will have an effect on your visual system. It may indicate that you need to rest more, do less reading and forget eye exercises for the moment.
Vision emanates from within the self, goes out and then returns within.
The metaphysical aspect of vision as an inner sense also plays a role in normal vision.
Eyesight reflects belief imprints about what can be seen and what must not be seen.
Familes often consider that poor eyesight is hereditary. Young children sometimes want to wear glasses like their parents, best friend (or now Harry Potter.) Some people say that they remember a difficult lesson where confusion and embarrassment meant that it was easier to cut out the rest of the world with foggy eyesight – the visual field just collapsed – never to return again.
7 Muscles will regenerate if exercised
It is common knowledge that if you do not use your muscles they not only become inflexible, they actually weaken the entire system as the body adapts to the artificial limits on its normal functioning.
The Tibetan Wheel is a fun way to help underused eye muscles regain their flexibility and can eliminate astigmatism*. Do the exercise twice a day.
Attach it to any convenient wall, placing the central spot level with the tip of your nose. Take off your glasses or contacts, and stand directly in front of the chart at a visually comfortable distance. Move closer as your eye muscles become more flexible.
Turn your attention to your breath. When you feel ready find a point anywhere on the outer edge of the wheel and very slowly move your eyes clockwise, outlining the outer edge of each arm, including the black circles, until you return to the original point.
Keep your head still and let your eyes move. Do not push or strain, stop if you feel uncomfortable and be sure to blink and breathe throughout the exercise.
Palm for one minute (see box), then repeat counter clockwise. When you are done, palm again until your eyes feel soft and relaxed.
Breath awareness is critical. Do the exercise with an open breath.
Conscious awareness is one of the primary tools for visual improvement. First you must be aware of your old habits. Then you need to allow alterations in those habits. By bringing the attention of the brain to focus on your vision habits the brain naturally goes to work to maximise performance.
This must be the oldest natural vision improvement exercise, used for thousands of years in yoga and ayurvedic practices, and probably one of the most effective. It relaxes the whole visual system and when the eyes are closed the brain wave patterns go into alpha rhythm. (To be done without glasses!)
1. Sit with both feet squarely on the ground
2. Rub the palms of your hands together vigorously.
3. Gently close your eyes.
4. Cover eyes with cupped palms. Have the base of your palms gently resting on the
base of the eye socket. Keep fingers relaxed.
5. Imagine a piece of black velvet, notice the depth of the colour black and the texture of the fabric.
6. Ensure that your shoulders are relaxed. (You may need to lie on the floor or lean forward to prop your elbows on a table or chair back to release the tension.)
Notice what you notice. If you see white flashes or colours, this indicates that you are holding tension in the visual field. You should notice that the more you do this exercise the colours will fade to black.
We suggest that everyone could benefit from doing this exercise three times a day for just two or three minutes at a time. People often report that colours seem clearer and that objects seem sharper and more defined. It is good to do this first thing in the morning and at the end of the day to relax.
Vision re-education takes thought and time – as we see from the figures many people are happy to get along with glasses or contact lenses or take the short root to laser surgery without knowing the long term risk to their vision. In 1943, in his still very readable and relevant book, Aldous Huxley wrote: ‘So long as the art of seeing is not taught to children as a part of their normal education, the trade in artificial lenses is not likely to suffer more than a trifling loss…. Human sloth and inertia will guarantee the opticians at least nine tenths of their present business.’ (15) So the key to natural vision improvement is to demonstrate quickly that participants have the power to influence their eyesight, ensure the exercises are fun and allow people to relax and see.
Have your eyes tested regularly. For those of you who want to reduce your current prescriptions, start by playing with some of the exercise. When you visit the optician make sure that you relax before taking the test (often people rush in and out in their lunch hour or just after work when eyes may be particularly tired). The ‘test’ conditions are enough to set up blurr in some people’s eyes. Have your test early in the day and ideally palm for 10 – 15 minutes so that your eyes are as relaxed as possible. You are entitled to a copy of your prescription. Ask the optician to explain it to you.
It is my hope that you are realizing that vision fitness is as achievable as general body fitness and that we can take responsibility for maintaining and even improving good sight. If you are a parent or a teacher you are a role model for children, they learn from your behaviour. Encouraging them to do some of the natural vision exercises has the added benefit of helping their memory and their creativity. (Of course this works for adults too!)
*Astigmatism – the blurring of lines at a particular angle. The condition comes and goes.
@Diopter. The measurement used for describing refractive error on prescriptions. One diopter is the refractive power of a lens needed to focus a point of light at one metre’s distance.
1. Gregory, Richard The Art & Science of What Goes on in Our Heads in Head On: Art with the Brain In Mind Artakt Ltd p4 2002
Bandler, R and Grinder, J TRANCE-formations Real People Press, USA 1981 p166
BBC Eye Cell Sets Body Clock http://news.bbc.co.uk/english/health/newsid-180700/180744
reporting on article in Science Vol. 295 No 55560
Leaflet from The London Centre for Refractive Surgery
Bandler, R and MacDonald, W An Insider’s Guide to Sub-modalities Meta Publications CA 1988 .
Gregory, Richard L Eye and Brain Oxford University Press (5th Edition – 1998) page 253
Chopra, Deepak Magical Mind, Magical Body Nightingale Conant Devon Tapes 1995
Government General Household Survey 1994/95 quoted in The Eyecare Trust Press Release
Fox, D Blinded by bread in New Scientist 6 April 2002 No 2337 Page 9
Goodrich J Perfect Sight The Natural Way – How to Improve and Strengthen Your Child’s Eyesight Souvenir Press 1996 (Out of Print) Quote from Dr Bates page 95
Chopra, D Ibid
Gelb, Michael How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci Thorsons 1998 Page 95
Bandler and Grinder Ibid
Angart, Leo Vision: The Mind Side Course Manual 1998 Page 4 Quoted with permission,
Huxley, Aldous The Art of Seeing Flamingo HarperCollins UK 1994 (First published 1943) Recommended Reading
Bates, W H Better Eyesight Without Glasses Thorsons 1995
Dilts, R, Hallbom, T and Smith, S Beliefs – Pathways to Health & Wellbeing Metamorphous Press, USA 1990
Goodrich, J Natural Vision Improvement Celestial Arts USA 1985 (Recommended reading)
Hannaford, C PhD Smart Moves – Why Learning is Not All in Your Head Great Ocean Publishers USA 1995
Pollack, Robert The Missing Moment:How The Unconscious Mind Shapes Modern Science Houghton Mifflin USA 1999
Redfern, Robert 10 Steps to Your Natural Eye Health Naturally Healthy Publications 2001
Rossi, Ernest PhD The 20-Minute Break – Using The New Science of Ultradian Rhythms, Tarcher USA 1991
For an website on these techniques and to see what is happening around the world with natural vision training go to: http://www.vision-training.com
Katrina Patterson ,is an INLPTA Certified NLP Trainer and Master Practitioner of NLP, business trainer, executive coach, storyteller and therapist. She teaches NLP trainings in Europe, is a part-time lecturer in NLP at the Faculty of Continuing Education, Birkbeck College, London, England, and speaks regularly at conferences in the UK and abroad. She organises Leo Angart’s London workshops, teaches Natural Vision Improvement Workshops in Oregon, teaches Memory Improvement and Maintaining your Eyesight at the Computer Seminars in business. Contact her at: 011-44-1895- 255-063 or firstname.lastname@example.org
© Katrina Patterson 2005
Katrina will be teaching a Natural Vision Improvement Workshop at Hidden Springs Wellness Center in Ashland on April 23-24. Contact Lindagail Campbell for details
at NLP Institute of Oregon, LgNLP@aol.com, 541-535-5932, http://www.nlporegon.com
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