Sassisailor’s Weblog

A description of my journey to improve my eyesight naturally

February 6, 2008 February 7, 2008

Filed under: Bates Method,Clear Flashes!,My Daily Progress — sassisailor @ 10:36 am

I have two important things to share today!

First:  I was taking a short break at work and went out of my office and walked around the halls.  While I was out of my office I was certain I had grabbed my -5reduced glasses (just in case I needed them).  I put them on in the hall because I saw someone I wasn’t sure if I knew and I was seeing just as if I had my -5reduced pair on.  But when I got back to my office I saw my red glasses (the -5reduced) on my desk!  Immediately I realized I had on my stronger pair and I then was able to see everything much sharper!  So I had had on my 20/20 pair of glasses accidentally but I was seeing like I do with my -5reduced pair!!!  I couldn’t believe that my mind could see “poorly” with my sharpest glasses on just because I thought they were my reduced pair.  It was an unbelievable realization of how powerful the mind is and the role it plays in our vision.  I only wish that someone could put fake lenses in my glasses without me knowing it to see if I could actually see well thinking that I had full strength lenses in.

The second thing that I experimented with today was the black period that Bates talks so frequently about.  I read two chapters in his book Perfect Sight Without Glasses, the chapter on Memory as an aid to vision, and Imagination as an aid to vision.  I was reading about the profound effectiveness of being able to visualize a perfectly black period and holding this imaginated image while looking at letters on a test card.  So I took some very white 3″x5″ index cards and with a black sharpie I drew a period on each index card, of different sizes, in the center of the card.  Next, I would look at an index card, close my eyes to image it, then look at the card again, imagine what I saw etc.  I kept doing this for about 30-40 minute (I’m not sure how long).  Then after doing this I looked at a small test card approximately 2.5 feet away (I didn’t measure).  What I noticed over the course of less than one hour was that I went from being able to see only the top letter to being able to almost read the fourth line!  It was not a clear and permanent state, but when I would look at the period and then visualize it, my vision was clearer after I opened my eyes.  I would not continue staring at the test card however, but would switch to looking at the period I had drawn, then imagine it in my mind, and look at the test card.  I was utterly surprised and excited at how well this helped to clear my vision.  After I finished looking at the periods I looked at my big test card on the wall from 10 feet and was able to read the second line for a few minutes!  Then it went away  because I stopped thinking about the black period and was “seeing” with effort.  Here are some good quotes from the PSWG book (available online in its entirety at http://www.central-fixation.com):

“The condition of mind in which a black period can be remembered cannot be attained by any sort of effort. The memory is not the cause of the relaxation, but must be preceded by it. It is obtained only during moments of relaxation, and retained only as long as the causes of strain are avoided; but how this is accomplished cannot be fully explained, just as many other psychological phenomena cannot be explained. We only know that under certain conditions that might be called favorable a degree of relaxation sufficient for the memory of a black period is possible, and that, by persistently seeking these condition, the patient becomes able to increase the degree of the relaxation and prolong its duration, and finally becomes able to retain it under unfavorable conditions.”  PSWG Chapter XIII: Memory as an aid to vision

“Imagination is closely allied to memory, although distinct from it. Imagination depends upon the memory, because a thing can be imagined only as well as it can be remembered. You cannot imagine a sunset unless you have seen one; and if you attempt to imagine a blue sun, which you have never seen, you will become myopic, as indicated by simultaneous retinoscopy. Neither imagination nor memory can be perfect unless the mind is perfectly relaxed. Therefore when the imagination and memory are perfect, the sight is perfect. Imagination, memory and sight are, in fact, coincident. When one is perfect, all are perfect, and when one is imperfect, all are imperfect. If you imagine a letter perfectly, you will see the letter and other letters in its neighborhood will come out more distinctly, because it is impossible for you to relax and imagine you see a perfect letter and at the same time strain and actually see an imperfect one. If you imagine a perfect period on the bottom of a letter, you will see the letter perfectly, because you cannot take the mental picture of a perfect period and put it on an imperfect letter. It is possible, however, as pointed out in the preceding chapter, for sight to be unconscious. In some cases patients may imagine the period perfectly, as demonstrated by the retinoscope, without being conscious of seeing the letter; and it is often some time before they are able to be conscious of it without losing the period.”

PSWG Chapter XIV: Imagination as an aid to vision.

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8 Responses to “February 6, 2008”

  1. vidi Says:

    That all is exciting news. Now you are beginning to understand how the memory of the black period works!

    Regarding the memory of the black period:

    1. Only the color needs to be remembered. The size is immaterial, but a small period is remembered with more relaxation than a large one. (p. 393 – BEM)
    2. To remember a period stationary is impossible. One has to shift more or less frequently in order to remember a period all the time, or one has to imagine the period to be moving, or one has to remember the period by central fixation–one part best. (p. 393 – BEM)
    3. You cannot remember the whole of the period at once. No matter how small the period is, you cannot see or remember it perfectly, all parts equally well at the same time. (p. 393 – BEM)
    4. It is a fundamental fact that a period is seen best when it appears to move a distance of about its own diameter. (p. 531 – BEM)
    5. It is difficult to make some patients understand that the large letters may have blurred outlines of a fraction of an inch or more if an effort is made, and the letter may still be distinguishable, whereas any effort to remember the period perfectly will cause a blur which is sufficient to make the small period indistinguishable. (p. 531 – BEM)
    6. The amplitude of the swing varies within wide limits. At six inches from the face, the amplitude may be three or four inches, while a similar object held at five feet or farther will have a very short swing–so short that it is not always apparent. A small period, likewise, at six inches may appear to move within an amplitude of several inches, while at ten feet it may appear to move less than one-half of its diameter. . . a short swing improves the vision more than a long swing. (p. 531 – BEM)
    7. I gave her a rubber ball and told her to go down to the seashore, near which she lived, when the tide was going out, and throw the ball in the water and watch it recede from the shore. She was also directed to note that the ball appeared smaller as it gradually floated out to sea. . . . I telegraphed back to her to practice with a rubber ball in the same way each day until her memory of the ball floating out to sea and appearing to be the size of the small black period was perfect. After her memory of the rubber ball becoming the size of a period became perfect, she found that she could obtain a mental picture of the small black period without using a rubber ball. (p. 532 – BEM)

    You mentioned the imagination quote from PSWG. This is one example of an understanding of knowledge that, to even the most advanced among Bates practioners (including teachers), seem to have been lost forever in time. It is hard for them to make the connection between the memory and the imagination. For example, why is Dr. Bates saying that you cannot imagine a blue sunset? Why cannot you imagine a pink elephant either? Why cannot you imagine a genetically engineered creature so abstract that you can imagine it has a leg attached to its head? I have actually been able to imagine all those – I do recall the blue color of the sunset being blue when I imagined it with my eyes closed. Why cannot you memorize those images either, since you can only remember something you have seen before?

    It really has to do with understanding the context in which he is talking about the imagination and the memory. I have never seen anyone mention this, which explains why it is universally misunderstood. The “key” (and the only such example) to understanding the imagination and the memory lies in p. 401 of BEM.

    “A person can remember what his name is without having a mental picture of each letter of the name. This is an example of what is known as an abstract memory. A concrete memory is a more perfect memory because one remembers a mental picture of the object with the eyes closed, as well or better than he can see it with the eyes open.” (p. 401 – BEM)

    Even this will not reveal everything to the casual reader. But we can conclude here that Dr. Bates is talking about a concrete memory, when he refers to ‘memory’ in his writings.

    But there is something still missing in understanding how the memory works in conjuction with imagination, which Dr. Bates never reveals in any of his writings (as far as I’m aware).

    When I read this, I suddenly understood the imagination too! If there are such things as abstract memory and concrete memory, I reasoned, there must be abstract imagination and concrete imagination as well. In reasoning further, I discovered that there is a difference between the memory and mental pictures!

    This is what I discovered: Imagination, in Dr. Bates’ writings, is the link between concrete memory and concrete mental pictures. Imagination is what allows you to create a mental picture of a memory. That is why he writes, “Imagination depends upon the memory, because a thing can be imagined only as well as it can be remembered. You cannot imagine a sunset unless you have seen one; and if you attempt to imagine a blue sun, which you have never seen, you will become myopia, as indicated by simulateous retinoscopy.” In other words, the imagination he talks about is not abstract imagination, it is concrete imagination.

    So the brain seems to have two possible pathways:

    — (stored) ——- (recalling from brain) ——- (recall completed) ———-
    Concrete Memory —> Concrete Imagination —> Concrete Mental Picture
    Abstract Memory —> Abstract Imagination —-> Abstract Mental Picture (Only For Sight)

    This is the key to understanding the connection between memory, imagination, and mental pictures. I have plenty of detailed explanations as to why, but I will not get into it. I think this is convincing enough.

  2. sorrisi Says:

    hey! this is really fascinating (your post and vidi’s comments)

    The complexity is so great, I’m having a lot of fun! I haven’t been writing as much lately, am really busy and trying to chill out in the evenings instead of write…

    today I had better night vision than ever! I hope this keeps going well!!!

    love,
    sister

  3. vidi Says:

    Sorrisi,

    Night vision only gets better and better. I have experienced perfect night vision before – surely at least 20/20 and with no polyopia whatsoever.

  4. sassisailor Says:

    Vidi,

    Thank you for the relevant quote from BEM about this post. I’m excited to read these. After reading those two chapters in PSWG it made me even more convinced about the importance of memory and imagination in the quest to correct my vision. I’m so glad you mentioned this about the period not being able to be visualized all at once. I was trying to see the whole thing and wasn’t able to, so what I did was remember seeing around the edges where it was clearest for me. This is the only way I can remember it! So it was assuring that I’m visualizing it correctly.

    You hit on a very interesting note- that most vision teachers don’t know about the relationship of imagination and memory and the importance of imagination in this method. I think most people hold on to the concrete methods (palming, swinging, blinking, and moving) which are all terribly important but the more reading I do, the more I’m convinced you can’t correct your vision without working on visualizing things from memory and imagination. It’s quite a fascinating interplay. My post for Feb 7 will explain something related to this in detail.

    I think you’re reasoning behind concrete memory/imagination and abstract memory/imagination is very sound. This is a very subtle point that I’m sure most people haven’t thought about. I’m glad you pointed it out to me so I can pay close attention to this detail as I keep reading through the BEM and PSWG. I’m also reading Help yourself to better sight a little bit as I go along as well. This is turning out to have some very good points in it as well. Her ideas are presented in a different way than in “Relearning to See” so I’m seeing some different ways to think about the importance of the physical relaxation techniques.

  5. sassisailor Says:

    Sorrisi,

    I understand needing to take a break! Sometimes typing too much becomes a pessimum, so I hope your additional time is restful!

    Love, Sister

  6. vidi Says:

    Sassisailor,

    I am glad you are finding my comments useful but it is even better that you are getting good results. Remembering best the edge of the black period is a very easy way to remember the period – you got it!

    I know what you mean. Rarely do people ever talk about mental pictures on the forums – and it was only recently at a few forums that it really was mentioned at all.

    You can be cured by the swing alone. This was something Dr. Bates wrote about regarding some patients – but you will notice a subtle pattern if you look very carefully at all his “quick cure” stories in which patients were cured in one or two visits. All his interesting “quick cure” stories involved the use of perfect mental pictures. I do not recall any that did not, although one or two might have involved swinging AFTER “palming and remembering a perfect mental picture.”

    None of the “quick cures”, to the best of my knowledge, ever involved the use of the swing alone. It goes to show the real potential of mental visualization – because all other methods pale in comparsion to it when it is done correctly.

    In this way, even supernormal vision (microscopic and telescopic vision) can be acquired. In all the stories I can recall about people who acquired microscopic or/and telescopic vision (some had both), they used mental visualization regularly. They imagined the halos around the edges of letters being whiter than they really were, memorized the period perfectly, and so on. There was always the mention of mental pictures associated with supernormal vision.

    Therefore it is logical that if one wishes to get the most out of their vision, they need to know how to form a perfect mental picture. Otherwise, perfect vision (which refers to telescopic and microscopic vision) may be impossible to acquire. Dr. Bates even mentioned, “Complete cures, which mean the attainment not of what is ordinarily called normal sight, but of a measure of telescopic and microscopic vision, are very rare.” (p. 36 – BEM)

    Emphasize upon “very rare” and think about how all his “quick cure” stories had to do with being able to form a perfect mental picture. That should tell you something about the importance of mental pictures. Unfortunately, what should be “common sense” is not so commonly understood.

    By the way, even with my own understanding of the swing and other things, I hope I can learn from you or your sister how to swing better, since it’s the thing I feel I am having the most trouble noticing improvements with. I think part of the reason has to do with not practicing the swing enough to get used to it. Surprisingly, I can still maintain my vision so I must be doing the swing correctly – but for improving vision, I am not sure what the best swinging approach might be.

    I can go for days palming nonstop, but I have a hard time swinging for even one minute! I get bored fast, since to simply “see my surroundings” makes me want to go running or exercising rather than stand in place! (I can’t even stand watching sports on TV, I must go do them myself!) (No, I do not have ADHD) I will be sure to practice the swing more next time. Do you have or Sorrisi have any tips for doing the swing correctly?

  7. sassisailor Says:

    I completely agree. I think you could summarize the Bates Method into two parts, correct habits and the importance of memory. The head movement, blinking, breathing and relaxation (the backbone) are necessary – you MUST have these in order to accommodate the physiological needs of our eyeballs. And then that’s only the tip of the iceberg- we must realize the importance of the brain in vision. Just like you can pick out a conversation in a room full of noise, we must be able to centralize and focus our vision and have perfect memories in order to see well. Selective hearing and central fixation are very similar and likewise perfect memory and imagination could be equated to the importance of knowing a language perfectly. When you hear or see something that you already have a memory of, the sense of this is much more “clear” as it is familiar and there is no strain to understand or see.

    So while we must move, blink, breathe, and relax that is only the beginning. In order to move above and beyond this it is absolutely necessary to relearn how relaxation helps to improve memory which is essential to corrected vision. I think Bates is the only person who has emphasized this enough. I’m sure there are many people who have tried the Bates Method and haven’t made it all the way to uncorrected vision, and like you said even fewer to telescopic vision, because the necessary focus was not placed on the memory aspect.

    I will make a separate post under the Bates Method category to share my experience with swinging. Hopefully it will help!

  8. vidi Says:

    You made a brilliant analysis when you said that perfect memory and imagination could be equated to the importance of knowing a language perfectly. In other words, in knowing the brain’s language with vision perfectly.

    I second that – I completely agree with you.


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