I wanted to post my thoughts on an observation I have about vision improvement. It is common knowledge in Bates and Bates-like literature that our vision is significantly affected by our mental state (e.g. if your mind is strained/stressed your vision will diminish). I have always tended to be the type of person who is hurried and feels like I need to work very fast in order to get as much done everyday as possible. And while I think this is not a bad trait I am starting to think that the way I go about doing things quickly, which includes seeing quickly, has been poorly learned. I tend to, most of the time, go about my busy-ness without intense focus; sometimes I find I am deeply focused on what I’m doing but most of the time my mind is busy and my muscles are tense.
In my own opinion, and others agree, natural eyes sketch/shift objects very quickly. Unfortunately I don’t think the quality of my shifting and sketching is good because it is similar to my physical patterns of hurried-ness. What I have been observing is that when I slow down my mind and vision, and really take my time in shifting/sketching over an object, my acuity will improve. It is much more difficult to shift the eyes across words slowly, evenly, and with focus, than it is to quickly pass the eyes over words or objects without much perception. I have been wearing glasses for over 20 years and over that time I learned to use my glasses-view with much efficiency. When wearing glasses the eyes don’t need to focus on the many parts that make up an object, we can simply take in almost our entire field of view and get along pretty well. Unfortunately it’s like learning to play a new song on the piano, or any instrument. Unless you take the time in the beginning to learn each note, slowly, and with patience, you cannot play the entire song well without losing the intention and importance of each individual note. I had a piano teacher who taught me some wonderful techniques for learning a new song. I would play each hand separately and very slowly at first. On top of that I would play the notes with different rhythms. The goal was to ingrain the note patterns into muscle memory, so that my fingers knew precisely where to go after each note. This technique is flawless and works everytime. Some of the rhythm patterns were short-short-long-long (where this temporal pattern is repeated every four notes), or short-long-short-long, and this list goes on. This morning I realized I could use this same sort of technique for my visual shifting. As I have acquired some terrible visual habits, I need to treat my vision as a new piece of music, slow down, and treat each “pixel” or imaging point as a note, go slowly, and retrain my eyes to play; perhaps even one eye at a time and then together. I think I can even use the rhythm patterns for shifting to refine the muscle movements of my extraocular muscles. Over time I will be able to increase the “tempo” and finally, naturally, the two eyes will come together in harmony, and I can do this effortlessly with mindfulness instead of straining to force my memory and my eyes.
So, I’m going to try and make a conscious effort to “stop and sketch the roses”. Life is busy and it’s difficult to maintain awareness during every waking moment; but like the piano a little bit of practice everyday will lead to perfection, repeatability, and good habits. My dad always told me to stop playing when I made a mistake because it was poor practice to reinforce a bad habit (a wrong note) and this obviously has many implications for natural vision habits as well. Anytime we continue seeing with poor habits we are reinforcing those habits and they become harder and harder to break, before we finally have to start over and relearn the passage or entire piece of music. So in vision, and life in general, I think it is best to always take each moment one note at a time, follow each vein in the rose’s petals, and not become overly concerned with just getting to the end of the song.