Sassisailor’s Weblog

A description of my journey to improve my eyesight naturally

Restoring Your Eyesight: A Taoist Approach by Doug Marsh — A review June 7, 2008

Filed under: Book Reviews — sassisailor @ 10:08 am

This morning I finished reading Restoring Your Eyesight: A Taoist Approach by Doug Marsh.  When I was halfway through the book I almost stopped reading it because it felt like a rehash of everything I’ve read so far (revieing fundamentals already outlined in Relearning to See by Quackenbush).  But I decided to finish the book and I’m happy I did. 

It is structured around the principles of Taoism and the most valuable lesson I took away is a reminder of how our vision and our entire being is a “Whole-istic” system.  Every part of our being affects other systems, especially our vision.  He offered some interesting insight into how many people with inner-ear problems have blurred vision (I found this interesting as these problems are prevalent in one side of my family).  Also, he outlines many alternative therapies that have been used for natural vision improvement (NVI) – so in this sense it would be a good reference for knowing the names and founders of these different methods.

I enjoyed the last part of the book best as it was a treatise on the politics and science of vision care.  I enjoyed reading this section because it was well researched, many good sources were referenced, and it reflects my own conclusions about the state of the scientific community.  He outlines why NVI has not become mainstream and why many people are scared into not practicing NVI (intimidation by the medical/legal/scientific community) etc.    This was one of my favorite quotes:

pg. 176  “NVI is commonly charged with being unscientific.  (Actually anything is unscientific if scientists refuse to study it.)  That’s enough to raise skeptical concerns and deter many people from taking it seriously.”

Of course we all know this and I’ve read it in other places, but I really liked how blatantly he pointed out that anything unstudied by scientists is deemed unscientific… this is so true and well put.  He goes on to point out that we have been conditioned through time to rely so heavily on the findings and opinions of scientists and medical doctors that we stop relying on our own senses, experience, and opinions and solely rely on the thoughts and opinions of “the professionals”.  Otis, who posts comments on this blog, has always underlined the importance of testing your visual acuity for yourself and I think he is wise to push this.  If a doctor or anyone with a PhD states something, we as a whole assume it must be true.  In my own life I had already  begun to realize this in the last year and it has hit me like a brick wall in the last six months how many things I was taught through my life that are completely untrue — YET, they are well published and supported by medical associations, doctors, and scientists.  This unsettling realization has led me to begin questioning everything I encounter and while it was extremely unsettling at first, I now feel much more control over my health and I have taken control of my own well being and no longer rely on the opinions of doctors to guide my lifestyle.  This obviously extends itself to taking control of my own vision care. 

Overall, I didn’t learn anything new per se about NVI from this book but found it to be a well written documentation of his opinions on NVI and it contains many good references to the many alternative NVI forms available — he mentions the Eyebody Method and the Alexander Technique, but dozens of others as well.   His review made it very clear that most holistic healing methods will also help the vision system as our bodily functions are so interconnected.  Throughout the book however, he does always go back to Bates himself and it reiterates the importance of Bates’ original research and experience and points out all of the new methods that have been developed since his time that compliment the Bates Method. 

Overall, the book has increased my motivation for publishing my own results in a scientific journal when I finish (if it would ever be accepted); but if you’re looking for a book to guide you through NVI this is not the place to start.  I think this book would be more beneficial for people partway through the process who have already read Bates’ material and “Relearning to See” by TRQ.  Also, I would recommend Margeret Corbett’s book to be read before this one.   However, keep in mind I have already read the “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu so much of this was redundant to me.  If you have never read the Tao Te Ching however, perhaps it would be insightful.  It may also be interesting to read both of these together to tie together the principles of Taoism as they relate to NVI.  Overall, an optimistic and motivating book that really convinces the reader that NVI works and that many forward-looking people are starting to move in this direction.


Eyebody by Peter Grunwald April 1, 2008

Filed under: Book Reviews,Eyebody Method — sassisailor @ 8:19 pm

I finished reading this book about a week ago and wanted to offer my review/opinion in case anyone was wondering about its content and usefulness. This book and more information about the Eyebody method can be found at: The Introduction chapter and a summary are available on his webpage under ‘Eyebody – The Book’.

This book includes:

  • Description of how the the visual system is integral to the whole body
    • The upper visual cortex is a control center in many ways
  • Describes the two types of upper visual cortex, overextended (usually found in hypermetropic individuals), and contracted (usually the type found in myopes).
    • These types of visual cortex structures affect other brain structures (described in the book) and he explains how they can be consciously changed to become balanced.
  • We can achieve our full potential by learning to activate our upper visual cortex through a term he calls “conscious depth perception”, a feeling often associated with the effects of practices such as meditation. Learning to consciously utilize this control center can positively affect our vision and other bodily functions.
    • He does not give directions in the book on how to achieve conscious depth perception
  • Grunwald outlines the Eyebody Patterns; correlations he found between specific parts of they eye and other parts of the body; both physical, mental and spiritual.
    • There is a nice Eyebody chart at the end of the book
  • An interesting and enlightening correlation between his Eyebody discoveries and the work of F.M. Alexander and William H. Bates
    • Directions for palming and sunning based on which type of visual cortex you have
  • Talks about the importance of panoramic vision and awareness (utilizing the potential in the other 95% of photoreceptors outside of the fovea)
  • Near the end he describes how there is some work you can do on your own.
    • Detailed instructions for panoramic vision
  • For the rest of the steps he recommends you find a teacher who has been trained in the Eyebody Method

I borrowed this book and don’t have it in front of me, so I’m sure I forgot some things. I took some notes to remember some specific terms and such. I really enjoyed this book; in fact I pretty much read it during every free moment I had until I finished the whole book. It’s a quick read and only a little over 100 pages. I found the information in the book very useful, HOWEVER from this book alone you are not able to easily deduce how to achieve conscious depth perception. I’m working on exploring this on my own (through my own experience with meditation) and plan to see my natural vision teacher again (he is trained in the Eyebody Method). Hopefully over time it will become clear.

If you are interested in learning more about the Eyebody Method and have some extra cash; I would say it’s a valuable read. But you probably will need to see an eyebody teacher or go to a workshop conducted by Grunwald. So far, I have read the book and talked to Greg Marsh about this and I still feel like I have a lot of work to do on exploring the concepts outlined in the book. The quickest way to learn would be to read this book and then find a teacher. From what I’ve learned from these two sources it’s a very experiential based method and it’s not something you can benefit from if you’re not willing to really examine and bring full awareness to your visual system and experience deeply how everything is interconnected (physically, mentally and emotionally). Of course, most well-read readers would know that both the Alexander Technique and the Bates Method require this as well, it’s just not always as apparent or directly stated.

Please post a comment if you have any specific questions about the book, I would be happy to answer your questions to the best of my ability.


Review of “Relearning to See” by T.R. Quackenbush February 11, 2008

Filed under: Bates Method,Book Reviews — sassisailor @ 4:49 pm

First of all, this book is very well written. It covers an amazing amount of detail, in what I found to be a very “easy to read” format.

This book took me a few weeks to read and after completion I felt I had a clear understanding of the following:

  • The cause of refractive error and eye disorders
  • Understanding how refractive error is measured (subjectively and objectively)
  • Snellen charts
  • The reason our eyes cannot improve while we are wearing glasses or contact lenses
  • Muscle strain, tension, stress, and strain are all related to imperfect vision, headaches, shoulder and neck strain, and an imperfect memory (among other physiological symptoms)
  • Accommodation must be a combination of both the crystalline lens AND the extraocular muscles
  • Key components of natural vision: Movement, Centralization, and Relaxation
  • Seeing naturally requires sketching, breathing, and blinking!
  • The importance of natural daylight, UV included
  • Functional anatomy of the eye
  • How the brain is involved in “seeing” and left brain vs right brain function
  • Naturopathy for general well-being
  • Using palming and acupressure for vision therapy
  • How to read correctly, not seeing the whole sentence at one time but sweeping the eyes over each letter, through the center, all the way across the line and then moving the eyes down to the next line, etc.
  • Why so many children require glasses
  • Read as small of print as possible to keep the near vision good!

I’m sure you could deduce from the table of contents that this is what you would basically learn from the book. However, I would like to emphasize that this book gave me a very thorough understanding of the mechanisms of correct and natural vision BUT it didn’t leave me with the feeling that I knew very well how to proceed to correct my own vision.

Each component of the Bates Method was described as to what it was, but not very precisely about how to incorporate these methods into your daily routine. I would say this book is a good (albeit very long) introduction to the causes of incorrect vision and the methods used to correct vision, but it was not a very good guide for me to understand what to do next. I am very glad I read it though, but I am also very happy that I have other books to reference.

The Better Eyesight magazines offer much more insightful information about the methods used by Bates to specifically correct different visual errors and the articles concerning the experiences of his patients are very encouraging. Another excellent resource is “Help Yourself to Better Sight” by Margaret Corbett. I think with any topic it is just generally helpful to have a variety of writings to reference as each person describes things differently.

My most blunt advice: if you want to thoroughly understand the mechanics of vision and how the Bates Method works read this book. If you’re not the type of person who likes to know something inside out I would recommend reading Margaret Corbett’s book first as it is very concise and helpful, and then reference the Better Eyesight magazines as you have specific questions.

**There are some very useful comments about this post that are definitely worth noting.  Quackenbush and the Goodrich lineage use the terms sketching and centralization, whereas the Bates Method uses shifting and central fixation.  The terms sketching and shifting are not synonymous; likewise centralization and central fixation are not synonymous.  There is a description of the differences between these in the comments section of this post**