Bates Method International

What is Relaxation?

Relaxation is the term used in the Bates method to teach the free and natural response of the eye to light. It is normal and natural for the eyes to see, for them to be interested in the world, to engage with it and respond to visual experiences. When the eye receives light in this way it is working in accordance with its design and so is relaxed and calm. In a sense, it is a form of 'dynamic relaxation.' The eye when it is relaxed is vibrant and active; at peace, yet very much alive.

Portrait of a child with relaxed and vibrant eyes
Child with relaxed and vibrant eyes - Image © 15 Second Art Ltd

The relaxed eye regards the world with interest, depth, detail, and without any effort or strain. People with normal sight experience this without trying: people who have trouble seeing tend to apply effort in order to achieve anything visual, including relaxation. Such attempts are of course counter-productive and learning to distinguish the difference between effort and effortlessness is the essence of the Bates method. Relaxation in the method can be summarised as 'a state of engaged physical and mental serenity.'

It is as natural for the eye to see as it is for the mind to acquire knowledge, and any effort in either case is not only useless, but defeats the end in view.
W H Bates: Perfect Sight Without Glasses 1920 pg 106