Sassisailor’s Weblog

A description of my journey to improve my eyesight naturally

An excerpt about the Alexander Technique October 23, 2008

Filed under: Relaxation Techniques — sassisailor @ 12:45 pm

I read this and thought it had relevance to vision.  It is from “How you stand, how you move, how you live” by Missy Vineyard on page 109.  It is a book about learning the Alexander Technique. 

“It appeared I had a choice: I could decide to take over the controls if I wished and return to my old habits of moving and the bodily sensations that accompanied it.  Or I could allow myself to be moved by this other force, remain within the invisible boundary of a previously unknown but marvelous new coordination of myself, and let the layers of feelings fall away.”

“I began to appreciate how deeply attached I was to the feeling of my muscles working.  My muscle tension reassured me that I existed, created my belief in my need to try harder, told me that I was in fact doing and trying as I believed I should.  I could see my error now, the hairline fracture in the struts of my logic.  It was all so unnecessary.”

What she’s describing is how, after a session with her Alexander Technique (AT) teacher, one night she felt a complete release of tension throughout her body and in fact spent a week not feeling her body.  Our bodies send signals back to us indicating that the muscles are in tension, and when this happens it creates a feedback upon which we rely in order to feel our physical existence.  This tension is completely unnecessary however and our bodies can function without it  (i.e., we can stand up without using hardly any muscles, we become balanced).  I read this part of her book, quoted above, after reading Ian’s account of his experience with the AT and the Eyebody Method (EM) and realized this is so true about our vision as well.  By trying to control what we see, we are in fact creating tension.  Through awareness however, and what she calls conscious inhibition, we can learn to let go of this control, and let our eyes see on their own.  I’ve read many accounts and have believed myself that “letting go” is essential to natural vision, but now I feel as if I understand the physiology behind this; it’s no longer just a vague expression describing the path to vision improvement.  One thing I found out about 3 months ago, is that when I stand my thigh muscles are constantly contracted.  Then one day they released and it was such a sense of relief and lightness.  Ever since then I’ve been noticing that I still do this but I know how to release the tension and I can feel the difference even before I think about releasing tension.   Eventually I hope to become acutely aware of the tension in my eye muscles so I can learn to instantaneously release it as well.


Overview of my vision improvement and the things that worked best September 17, 2008

Filed under: Bates Method,Relaxation Techniques — sassisailor @ 6:11 pm

A reader on my blog requested that I give an overview of what has been most helpful for me during the last 9 months.  I think this is a great idea because for anyone who is just starting to read my blog it would take forever to read through all of my previous posts; there are 145 not including this one!  Everyone’s time is prescious and I would hate for you to miss out on learning something from my experience because you dont’ have time to read my archives.  I probably wouldn’t read them all if I came across this blog!  It would just take too long.   I will make a list as I find lists easier to assimilate and read.

To summarize, I learned about the Bates Method last December from my sister (who is also improving her vision, her screen name is sorrisi).  I began with a prescription of -8 diopters in my right eye and -7.25 diopters in my left eye.  I now can use -5 diopter lenses for any situation requiring 20/40 vision or better (driving, hunting) and wear -4.25 diopter lenses any other time I REQUIRE lenses (work situations, grocery store sometimes, sometimes computer).  All other times I go without.  I am also transitioning to -3.75 D glasses for the computer.  These work for my office computer which is more difficult to see than my home computer which I can usually read without glasses.  I purchased a focometer from InFocus (online) and am using this to measure my refractive error myself.  It is an instrument used by eye doctors to measure refractive error in countries where they don’t have access to the expensive equipment found in an ODs office.  It is easy to use, and has been accurate for me.  The results from my focometer are showing improvement!  I purchase my reduced lenses through Zenni Optical (online). I live in the US though, not sure if they ship overseas?  They are cheap ($8, $4.95 for shipping) and have been working well for me over the last eight months.  I have not worn contacts since I began which is the longest I’ve gone without contacts since I began wearing them at the age of 16; I’m now 29.  I started wearing glasses at age 7 or 8 (2nd grade).  Whew… sorry if that was long-winded!  I want to make sure this is a comprehensive summary 🙂 

  • MOST IMPORTANT to my progress:  going without glasses as often as possible, looking into the distance, and letting my eyes look around and trace objects (shifting and sketching).  Sounds easy, but it’s HARD to learn to let go of these crutches and even harder to explore and push the limits of when they are even necessary.
  • NEXT MOST IMPORTANT to my progress: wearing reduced lenses (at least 0.5 to 0.75 diopters below what is required for 20/20 vision, even more reduced for computer/near work) only when I really need lenses.
  • Autogenics training, though this was incredibly helpful for me I think that palming can be just as helpful if you bring your attention to your breath and body.  I’m glad I did it though, it helped guide me towards a good method for relaxation and taught me about awareness.  See link on my blogroll for free Autogenics Training instructions.
  • Breathing correctly and blinking more frequently and correctly.   I previously had shallow breathing habits and did not blink very often. 
  • Palming, long swings, and sunning.  These three Bates principles have been cornerstones to my improvement because they remind me to relax and remember to not overwork my eyes.  When I am not practicing these three things my progress halts and I can feel tension creeping back into my eyes, face, shoulders and neck.    One thing I’ve become aware of is that I keep using my eyes even though they are tired and require resting.  Palming has been a great tool for taking a break, resting my eyes, and bringing my attention back to healthy natural vision habits (shifting, breathing, and blinking). 
  • Awareness.  Learn to start paying attention to your breath, your eyes, your hands, your posture, your mood, etc… Calm the mindless chatter going on in your head and just be.  This is a life-long pursuit, but has great benefits for vision improvement.  “The Joy of Living” and “A New Earth” or “The Power of Now” are great books if you’re interested in exploring this path.  I include this here as helpful for my vision because it has been an intrinsic part of my life and I am unable to exclude things I do from helping my vision.  Who’s to know exactly what helps and what doesn’t?  I think it can be unique for each person, though there are threads of similarity between every person’s experience.
  • Reading as many books on vision improvement as possible; “Relearning to See” by Quackenbush, any and all articles from Bates’ “Better Eyesight” magazines, “Help Yourself to Better Sight” by Corbett, and “Take Off Your Glasses and See” by Liberman.  My sister would recommend “The Art of Seeing” by Huxley, though I haven’t read it myself. 
  • Take advantage of all the free material on the internet concerning vision improvement — see my ‘blogroll’ for links, one great site that is very comprehensive is the website.  I didn’t find out about this website until about a month ago, but if you are short on time I would recommend checking out this website to get you going.  It has almost everything you would read about in the book list above (excluding some of Liberman’s stuff).  The books are great though too, so if you have time, definitely read as much as you have time for. 

I think this is all; if I remember something I forgot to mention I will edit this post and add things in italics below this text here.  If you have questions or are curious about my experiences please don’t hesitate to post a comment.    Best of luck in your own vision improvement!


Additional notes:

Sept. 19, 2008:  I forgot to mention two very important points that Nancy and Ram brought up.  1. I have not used sunglasses since I started my vision improvement.  It took some time to readjust to the natural light levels, but now my eyes are not sensitive to outdoor sunlight (which should be natural!).  and 2. I try to get as much natural light as possible.  Our vision is best in natural light, so I frequently read outside and keep the curtains open in my house at all times to help let in more light.   Luckily at work there are some big windows, but they are north facing.  I also have been practicing closed-lid sunning for the past 9 months and this continues to be tremendously helpful.   Never, ever, ever look at the sun directly or do closed-lid sunning while wearing glasses.  Just remember the idea of burning ants with a magnifying glass and that should be enough incentive.  I think this is how many people develop such sensitivity to the sun because lenses create a much stronger light on the retina than is normally experienced without glasses.  Then they start wearing sunglasses and it easily becomes a cycle of dependence on the sunglasses.

September 24, 2008:  One of my friends is also doing natural vision improvement and has successfully ordered glasses from Zenni and they were shipped to Ireland.  So in case anyone is wondering, Zenni can ship anywhere in the world. 


EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique June 27, 2008

Filed under: My Daily Progress,Relaxation Techniques — sassisailor @ 6:12 am

I read the first 55 pages of the free manual available on their website and tried the technique about a dozen times (multiple times on one thing; headache, shoulder pain, my vision and jaw tension).  It didn’t help at all for any of these things and I felt like a complete idiot while doing these techniques…  I’m sure they work well for some people, but not for me.

Despite the cause of the ineffectiveness of EFT for me (I hate to say the method is a scam because of my limited experience), I’m not going to pursue this anymore because I think I will have better success if I simply focus on the Bates method and do not get distracted by the many “wonder cures” available.  Bates had the most scientific research behind his method and huge success with implementing and proving the results.  I will continue mainly with Bates’ techniques in order to maintain “central fixation” 🙂


Weekend notes (March 29,30) March 31, 2008

Filed under: Bates Method,Eyebody Method,My Daily Progress,Relaxation Techniques — sassisailor @ 9:14 am

This weekend I was able to spend a significant amount of time without glasses and am still able to read 20/70 (however, I need to note that these letters are not perfectly black;  I can discern what they are but they are not perfect).  I am working on writing up a post to discuss this issue and my theory on why my Snellen chart readings do not correlate to the lens power I require.

My whole philosophy is changing on the Bates Method.  While I still love and value all of the Bates magazines and believe that the key to vision improvement resides in this initial research I have been questioning the way I have approached the Bates Method.   When I first began learning about this method I became very obsessed with only the work done by Bates; thinking that this was the only source I should consider and I should exactly follow the methods outlined in his magazines.  Ever since I met with Greg Marsh I have realized that this was a naive and close-minded approach to this opportunity of vision improvement.  Just like anything in life, there are always other perspectives and methods, including those that we “invent” ourselves that can work just as well.  I don’t believe there is one and only one way to improve vision.  Becoming addicted (I used this word intentionally) to a negative lens (which is what has happened to me) is a long and complicated process that nobody fully understands.  And I believe this to definitely be true, nobody fully understands what happens physiologically when we wear a negative lens.  Glasses work in a very unnatural way by focusing all of the incoming light directly onto our fovea.  Our fovea only contains 5% of the photoreceptors on our retina, thus leaving the other 95% completely unstimulated.  What does this do to the neural pathways leading to and within our visual cortex?  How can we “rewire” our visual cortex if we’re constantly switching back and forth between wearing glasses and not wearing glasses?  (I believe it can be done, I just think this is why it takes so much longer).   Anyway, I’m getting off track- I’m going to save this discussion for another post.  My point is, I believe that becoming attached to only the Bates method can exclude many other methods that may work for improving vision and can blind us to the overall reason we can improve our vision.  It’s not specifically the long swing and palming that fixes our vision (and Bates knew this) but I think that some of us focus on these very specific relaxation exercises (or others) and think if we do these perfectly and regimented everyday we will regain clear vision.  I love the long swing and palming and find them both very useful tools in improving my vision, but I also believe there could be other ways of doing things and we should be asking ourselves, why do these work? … focusing on really paying attention and bringing awareness to every part of our body during these exercises to notice how they affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Bates’s work is being continued it’s just not blatantly apparent.  For instance, Peter Grunwald (the author of Eyebody and the man who discovered the Eyebody Patterns) is in essence, continuing the work started by Bates.  It may look like it’s not because it’s taking a new shape (by focusing on the upper visual cortex and experiential anatomy) but this is what happens over time; ideas evolve and new correlations are made.  How many others are also doing the same but disguised under differently named methods or philosophies?  But for those of us who get stuck in strictly Bates method’s I think we believe that only Bates did this work and there hasn’t been anything new, and this is not true.  We must all keep our minds open and be looking for other techniques that hold value.   I am still in, what I consider, my intellectual infancy with respect to vision improvement knowledge; but I hope that over the course of my lifetime I can make a contribution to this effort and I hope that all of you out there who are reading my posts can have success with your own vision improvement.  And I would encourage each of you to document your experiences and publish them in order to increase the amount of available information and personal experience documenting the success of any and all of these vision improvement methods.  Each of us can have a significant impact and part in changing eye care methods worldwide which will dramatically change the way future generations see and experience life.


Laughter February 26, 2008

Filed under: My Daily Progress,Relaxation Techniques — sassisailor @ 8:35 am

Laughter really is the best medicine.  I frequently watch TV without my glasses because I tend to stare if I’m wearing them.  Lately I’ve been watching Seinfeld episodes (from Netflix, no commercials yay!) and it of course makes me laugh almost constantly.  Everytime I laugh really hard I have clearer vision afterward.  Lately it’s been persisting through the whole episode and even a while after the episode is over!  My vision clears up such that I see better after laughing than I do when wearing my -5 D reduced glasses!  It’s a much brighter and sharper vision than I’ve ever had with any power of glasses. 

So I’ve learned how to obtain perfect vision, I just need to laugh hard all day! 🙂  Just kidding- but I think that laughing is really relaxing and its importance and helpfulness should not be underestimated.  


Meditation posts from January 17, 2008

Filed under: Relaxation Techniques — sassisailor @ 2:04 pm

Some members of asked some questions about meditation and I thought there was some good information that I would include here as well:

I wrote:

“I have been meditating for approximately 4 or 5 years. However, I didn’t learn about the Bates Method until last month. During my pre-Bates meditation my eyes never improved because I never even knew I could help correct my eyes! So I never took off my glasses or lenses to see if my vision was better, because I didn’t expect it to be. Without glasses, I always assumed I couldn’t see. Since I’ve learned of the Bates Method however, I have maintained my meditation and now realize what benefits it has for fulfilling Bates’ recommendation of relaxation. Meditation is very relaxing for me. If it were not relaxing for you though- I don’t think meditation would help with the vision correction process…

I was meditating last night however and when I finally felt all of my body “release” or “relax” I felt a natural swinging motion begin at the base of my spine and it continued up to my neck until my whole upper body was swaying very slightly from side to side and then from front to back. It was very interesting and it made me wonder why I always hold my body so rigid (and why I had never felt this before!). While meditating I tried an experiment and I held my body still. It felt uncomfortable (that’s the only word I could think of) to try and stop this natural swaying motion. I found this interesting as well because Bates condones movement and relaxation. This is the first time in my life that I have felt “natural motion” in my body but it required that I was first relaxed- and meditation was the method for me that resulted in feeling this natural motion.

I meditate with my eyes closed, in the traditional Zen style (Zazen). I do not sit facing a wall however. I have a mat and cushion at home that I sit on, and I recommend meditating in a very low-lit room (bright light can make it uncomfortable to focus, for me anyway). It’s best if it’s quiet and you haven’t just eaten a big meal or completed really strenuous exercise. I have found that first thing in the morning or in the evening is best. It’s nice to do right before bed because it helps calm your mind. I sit on the edge of the cushion (you don’t want your legs on the cushion) in a variety of positions, depending on my mood. There are many positions you can sit in (full-lotus, half-lotus, Burmese, or Seiza). Usually I sit in the half-lotus position, though I will sit in the Burmese or Seiza position if my ankles are feeling tight. It doesn’t matter what position you’re in though as long as you can sit quietly for 20-30 minutes. Some people even sit in a comfortable chair, and this is fine. The only thing you shouldn’t do is lay down. I have read that this is incorrect because you want to remain alert, albeit relaxed. Lying down will make you sleepy ) At first if you find it hard to have a calm mind, I would recommend that you count your breath and focus on your breathing. As you advance you’ll find that your mind will stay relatively quiet and you can focus on different parts of your body.
Mental benefits: I’m not as easily distracted and have an easier time focusing on whatever I’m doing. I don’t know if it’s the meditation or what I’ve read about Zen buddhism, but I have come to appreciate the daily things that I must do (cooking, cleaning, laundry, work, etc), and am happier when I do these things. That may sound kind of weird, it’s kind of hard to explain. Basically I’m happier, more focused, and when I’m meditating a lot I’m very peaceful.

Physical benefits: I don’t know if I would have ever thought to address a physical benefit if you hadn’t specified it. But I am definitely a lot less stressed out than I used to be and I personally believe this helps my whole body to be more healthy. I don’t really get sick at all anymore (this could be from other changes I’ve made in my life, eating healthier, sleeping more, etc). Also, now when I exercise it’s almost like I meditate when I exercise. When I exercise I try not to think of anything except the muscles I’m using and I try to just enjoy the act of moving my body. As a result I’m probably getting higher quality exercise, which is good for me physically.

Spiritual benefits: The reason I actually started meditating was because when I graduated from college and moved away to my job I began to question my past spiritual beliefs. I had a lot of time to myself as I didn’t know anyone and I realized I didn’t ever really believe in the faith I was brought up with. I came across some literature on buddhism and it eventually led me to regular meditation. I have since come to a very comfortable place with my spirituality. The meditation aspect of buddhism is of course only part of this spiritual awakening (if you want to call it that), but never before in my life had I felt passionate about my spiritual beliefs, and now I do. I have left out what my previous affiliation was because I don’t want to give the impression that I have no respect for that faith, or others that are similar. Regardless if you would agree with buddhist beliefs I think there is a lot to be gained from meditation. Spiritually, meditation alone made me sit down and just be comfortable being my self, by myself, and learning to actually pay attention to how I was feeling (both physically and mentally). I think this could be a great benefit (spiritually or not!) to anyone.

Also- I don’t know what category you would classify this, but one of the best benefits I have gained is that I don’t care (as much) about what other people think of my choices. I don’t live a non-traditional life by any means, but I used to be overly concerned about what other people thought of me. I still have a ways to go before I could really say I don’t care at all what people think, but I make more decisions now that are more closely related to what makes me happier. This is probably because for the first time in my life I actually know what makes me happy and before I never even knew!

I realize these meditation posts have come completely away from the Bates method and traditional eye improvement topics, but I personally very strongly believe that meditation is one of the most effective relaxation techniques. Most societies are so hurried and stressful that it could do everyone wonders if we all just “sat” quietly everyday, even for just a few minutes. “


Don’t wear your glasses! January 11, 2008

Filed under: Relaxation Techniques — sassisailor @ 7:38 am

I don’t wear my glasses unless I absolutely need to! And as a corollary to this – I try to be comfortable and happy with my blurry vision. I have now become comfortable with my blurry vision because it makes me so happy that I’m not wearing my glasses!

I now treat my glasses more like most people treat reading glasses. I keep them with me in my pocket (terrible for the lenses I know) and only put them on when it’s imperative that I see something.

I think this is relaxing because it reminds me continually of what I’m doing and the thought of eventually not wearing glasses fills me with such joy that it just makes my whole body smile 🙂