Fuoco asked in a previous post about the things I’m doing that help my vision the most when I’m reading my Snellen chart. I replied in length to this question under the “VIP for Nov 17” post, and then thought I should post part of it in a new post for the people who may not be reading comments and replies. I hope this offers more insight into what I’m doing on my chart that has enabled me to clear from 20/200 to 20/40 in what I consider dim light. Even Otis has said he wouldn’t normally believe someone who made this claim and I can understand why! (Otis, I appreciate that you DO believe me!). But I think this just reiterates how possible it is for us to all see clearly if we simply follow the habits of natural vision.
“As for working in front of my Snellen chart, these are the specific things I do that have been helping me tremendously. Hopefully they will work for you as well! If they don’t at first give it time and experiment with seeing in different ways and letting your body move and relax while doing it.
1. I sway almost constantly when reading my chart. I stand firmly on both feet, making sure I’m very balanced across the soles of my feet (equal weight from front to back and side to side). I never wear shoes and take time at first just to find some peace. I clear my mind of any thoughts and just notice how the chart and the room start to move as I’m moving. My swaying is not very dramatic, just a nice slow side to side motion, it is so slight sometimes that someone else may not even notice I’m doing it. If I don’t sway my body tends to tense up, which then results in staring.
2. The above is different from when I swing in front of the chart. When I’m doing long swings I do the full swing where my body rotates fully and the foot opposite of where my body is rotated comes up slightly. I normally don’t do my long swings in front of the chart. I usually do my long swings before I read my chart and in a separate room of the house where there are a lot of high contrast objects or in front of a big window where I can look outside for part of the swing.
3. Back to the chart: so after I feel really balanced, I make my sway even shorter, so my head and body are swaying to the length of the row of letters on the chart. It’s really slight and after a few minutes it becomes natural and I don’t have to think about doing it anymore, my body just keeps doing it. Then I start to look at each line, starting from the big “C” all the way to the bottom of the chart. I do this several times, letting my eyes follow the black letters (or blobs, depending on if I can read the line).
4. Next I bring my attention to the upper back part of my head (where the visual cortex resides). This is described in Peter Grunwald’s Eyebody Method. Then I move my attention back and forth along the visual pathway. (So, I’m still swaying and moving my eyes across different lines on the chart.) First I imagine my attention at the very front of my eyes, on the cornea. I feel the air against that surface, etc. Then I imagine (and bring my attention physically to that location on both eyes), moving back through the aqueous humor (fluid between the cornea and the iris) and to the iris, and imagine the light going through my pupil. After the pupils, I imagine this light traveling through my lenses, then slowly through the vitreous humor and finally the light is all soaking in to the back of my retinas. At this point I imagine the backs of my eyes getting wider and I imagine my eyeballs becoming perfectly round. From here, I imagine the phototransduction process where the light is converted to electric signals and then they channel to the optic nerve. Then I bring my attention along the path of the optic nerve to the lateral geniculate nucleus (don’t worry about the name, if you don’t already know this is the location where the visual information crosses over to the other side of your brain), so imagine the information from your right and left eyes traveling to the center of your brain and then crossing over each other. Then I imagine the information from my right eye going to the left part of the upper back part of my head, and the info from my left eye, going to the right part of the upper back part of my head. And no, I’m not finished here! Then I do this in the opposite direction, starting from the back of my head at the visual cortex and move forward in the reverse order as just described, until I’m back at the corneas. I do this multiple times and just keep going forward and backward. I get faster and faster each time, sometimes doing it slow is better though as you can really start to “be” where your attention is. Finally when I’ve done this a few times I let my attention stay in the visual cortex. This usually brings my posture up and back and I will feel the weight shift in my body. Normally I find myself unbalanced and leaning on my toes. After doing this I find I’m much more balanced and leaning further back than normal. It’s hard to describe. Then, while keeping my attention in the visual cortex, I notice where my central vision is and imagine that light falling direction on my fovea’s, on a very tiny part of my retina’s, while also being “aware” (but not trying to see) the periphery. This has also been described by Jacob Liberman in “Take Off Your Glasses and See” as “Open Focus”. Let yourself notice how much is around your best focusing area. Many of us who are myopic tend to have tunnel vision and don’t see the normal field of view. (sorry that was so long of an explanation, saying I do the Eyebody method doesn’t give you much of an idea probably of what I’m really doing in front of my chart).
5. Next, (and keep in mind I always try and build on these things — so I’m still keeping my awareness at the visual cortex and I’m still swaying) I use the methods I learned about from Tom Quackenbush’s book “Relearning to See” where I use a “nose-“tool”” to read the chart. I chose a paintbrush because I find painting very relaxing. You could choose a nose-pencil, nose-laser, whatever. So I imagine that there is a long paintbrush attached to the tip of my nose and I use it to “paint” the chart. Sometimes I use it to paint the letters as I’m imagining what they look like. Or I’ll paint the white space underneath the letters. To bring in my imagination I will “paint” different colors underneath the letters and sometimes I’ll paint a rainbow of colors. The thing I’ve found useful about this is that it brings attention away from my eyes, so I’m letting myself “see” while using my memory and imagination, and this also ensures that your eyes are following your head, which Dr. Bates said was so important. This is very fun to experiment with and has helped me see improvement on my chart. I’m certain if I could make this a habit, my vision would be permanently cleared.. but unfortunately these aren’t habits for me so I have to spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour working on the chart to start using correct habits.
6. I make sure throughout that I’m breathing and blinking correctly (abdominal breathing and light, frequent blinks).
7. Once my vision starts to clear, and it usually starts to clear by the time I’m doing the Eyebody stuff, I make sure to bring my attention to my breathing and blinking. I usually get so excited when I start to see so well that I start to hold my breath and I start staring.
8. The final thing I do is start looking at the very last two rows on the chart. Even though I can’t see the letters, I can usually by now see the dark outlines of exactly where they are. I keep doing everything above, but now I get out my little chart (it’s like 4″x6″, it’s just a near-version of the big Snellen chart with the exact same letters. Then I start to use the same techniques on the little chart. I’ll look at let’s say the “R”, and then close my eyes, sway, and then look at the big chart and remember the “R”. I’ll keep doing this for all the little letters that I can’t see yet on the big Snellen.
9. By this time, my eyes are getting very tired and I have to palm. I’m thinking I need to start palming in between the steps above, because it actually is quite straining for me to do all of this without a break. So I would recommend palming maybe every 10-15 minutes or whenever your eyes begin feeling tired, and then resume, etc.
My only other suggestion for you is to spend as much time outside as you can. Sunning is very relaxing, and I do this. But mostly, just taking a nice relaxing walk without glasses, and using the same techniques I described above while you are walking is an excellent tool. Now, most of the time when I’m outside I can clear my vision quite quickly and begin to see everything in such dimension and with vivid colors. Being in natural light is the most helpful thing, though I think it’s important to practice the chart indoors in dimmer light as well, because we must “wake up” our rod photoreceptors as well.
Please let me know if you have any questions about the above. I apologize for how lengthy this is, but I wanted to be sure and describe everything exactly as I do things. But please don’t get too hung up on focusing on replicating what I do and expecting immediate results. I obviously cannot claim that this will work for you the same as it works for me — but these are methods described in books by teachers of NVI, so I’m certain that once you find out how they best work for you, you will start to see improvement. The most important thing for me has been thinking about the methods above, and experimenting with them. I frequently experiment with my vision throughout the day. Lately, I’ve been “listening” to my body and doing the things that come to mind. Sometimes that’s letting my head fall back and letting my eyes gaze at the ceiling and letting my neck relax, or it’s moving my head from side to side, or bending down to touch my toes and letting my head hang and completely relax. It’s important to make these things fun, so that you have a light and happy heart, and a smile on your face. Bates says repeatedly that poor vision comes from mental strain and my best vision has always resulted in times when I’m not practicing, but when I find that I’m really happy, laughing, having a good time, and enjoying my surroundings.”
This is what I do when working on my vision in front of my Snellen chart, and it could be applied to vision anywhere. It definitely takes time to do these things, but using the Bates method is not a “quick-fix” for vision, so I believe we will only get out of it however much we are willing to put into it. Luckily it teaches us to slow down in our daily lives anyway, and teaches us to be more patient and to really see everything rather than rush through life with tunnel vision.