Bates Method International

The World Moves

Understanding our perception of movement

Like and share this page:


A large part of the Bates method engages our perception of movement. Dr Bates referred many times to swings, the sway, shifting; and if you spend time with a fully trained Bates teacher you'll find a great deal of your lessons devoted to learning and understanding these practices - and their effect on our awareness of visual movement in the world around us.

Here is a wonderful extract from the November 1925 Better Eyesight Magazines where Dr Bates talks to us about how 'The World Moves'.


THE world moves. Let it move. People are moving all day long. It is normal, right, proper that they should move. Just try to keep your head, or one finger, one toe, stationary, or keep your eyes open continuously. If you try to stare at a small letter or a part of it without blinking, note what happens. Most people who have tried it discover that the mind wanders, the vision becomes less, pain and fatigue are produced.

Stand facing a window and note the relative position of a curtain cord to the background. Take a long step to the right. Observe that the background has become different. Now take a long step to the left. The background has changed again. Avoid regarding the curtain cord. While moving from side to side, it is possible to imagine the cord moving in the opposite direction. By practice one becomes able to imagine stationary objects not seen to be moving as continuously, as easily, as objects in the field of vision.

 Young child running to make blurry movement

Movement and Life work together

Universal Swing: When one becomes able to imagine all objects seen, remembered, or imagined, to be moving with a slow, short, easy swing, this is called the Universal Swing. It is a very desirable thing to have, because when it is imagined with the eyes closed or open, one cannot simultaneously imagine pain, fatigue, or imperfect sight.

The Universal Swing can be obtained without one being conspicuous. With the hand covered, move the thumb from side to side about one-quarter of an inch, and move the eyes with the thumb. Stationary objects can be imagined to be moving.

When walking rapidly forward, the floor or the sidewalk appears to move backward. It is well to be conscious of this imagined movement. Never imagine stationary objects to be stationary. To do this, is a strain, a strain which lowers the vision.

Wm H. Bates M.D., - Better Eyesight Magazines, November 1925.

The world moves. Let it move. All objects move if you let them. Do not interfere with this movement, or try to stop it. This cannot be done without an effort which impairs the efficiency of the eye and mind.
Wm H. Bates M.D., Better Eyesight Magazines, July 1920

Further reading:

Techniques: The Sway

Techniques: The Swings

Comment on this post on Facebook