Faq

The following questions are commonly asked when a person first comes across the Method. More in-depth questions are covered in the Articles & Blog section.

About Dr. Bates

The Bates Method is a system of visual re-education that helps people who have poor sight relearn the habits of good sight.

Dr Bates maintained that the key to most visual problems was due to misuse of the visual system. He observed the habits of normally sighted people and the characteristics of normal sight and devised ways to help people with abnormal sight to relearn how to use their eyes naturally.

All day long use your eyes right. You have just as much time to use your eyes right as you have to use them wrong. It is easier and more comfortable to have perfect sight than to have imperfect sight.

W H Bates: Better Eyesight Magazine April 1922

Dr William Horatio Bates was a respected American Ophthalmologist who practised mainly in New York in the late 19th and early 20th century and worked in a number of important teaching hospitals.

He noticed that the vision of many of his patients was at times extremely variable and realised that this meant it could possibly be improved. He later gave up his orthodox practice in order to devote his life to discovering, then showing others, how long sight, short sight and astigmatism could be prevented and improved in children and adults without the use of glasses.

As he developed his method he came to realise there are three key concepts that influence the state of vision: He termed these Central Fixation, Strain and Relaxation.

Publications

  • The Cure of Imperfect Eyesight without Glasses: Central Fixation Publishing Co.1919K
  • Better Eyesight Magazines: A journal of vision improvement. 1919 - 1931

Bates Method International (BMI) is a world-wide collection of teachers representing an unbroken tradition of vision education stemming directly from Dr. Bates. It is an affiliate body of the Institute for Complementary Medicine.

BMI maintains a register of teachers who have qualified from approved training courses, and it is supported by subscriptions from teaching members and voluntary donations.

... I propose the organization of an active Better Eyesight League, devoted to the promulgation of the knowledge that the prevention and the cure of imperfect eyesight without glasses is a scientific possibility and that the man and the demonstrated methods for its achievement are at the disposal of mankind.

Roberts Everett: Better Eyesight Magazines February 1922

The Method

The concept of Central Fixation has both an anatomical and a neurological basis, and in order to understand it fully it is important to have a basic understanding of how the eye – and particularly the retina – is structured.

Bates observed that:

The eye is a miniature camera, corresponding in many ways very exactly to the inanimate machine used in photography. In one respect, however, there is a great difference between the two instruments. The sensitive plate of the camera is equally sensitive in every part; but the retina has a point of maximum sensitiveness, and every other part is less sensitive in proportion as it is removed from that point. This point of maximum sensitiveness is called the "fovea centralis," literally the "central pit.

W. H. Bates: Perfect Sight Without Glasses 1920 Pg. 114

The key is to recognise that the fovea centralis has an actual, physical presence on the retina and no matter what the condition of the sight, short of physical damage, that point is always there and always receiving light.

When the sight is normal the centre of the visual field is richly detailed and easy to maintain. The mind's interest is continually rewarded with information that is specific and focused and it follows that the process of 'central fixation' is as natural and as effortless as breathing.

When the sight is abnormal the centre of the visual field is invariably indistinct. It no longer provides enough detail with which the mind can easily engage and so there begins a discontinuity; the co-ordination between the mind and the eye is compromised, and the mind is left free to wander while the eyes become orphans.

To compare the two states: relaxed sight and impaired sight, they produce widely different approaches to the use of the eyes, both physically and neurologically. The Bates method aims to address this disparity of use, and while the compromised eye and mind may be well entrenched in habit, the process of seeing naturally is still imprinted underneath - as a memory or an innate knowing. Additionally the mind can be encouraged to respond in a healthy way to the light that is being received by the fovea, even if it is not yet detailed; in so doing the connection between the fovea centralis and the mind gains in integrity. It may help to understand that the eyes are two areas of the brain turned outward to the world.

The ability to distinguish the centre of the vision implies the ability to distinguish the non-central vision; and recognise that for every single point that is directly observed there are an infinite number of points that are not being directly observed, right to the far edges of your periphery.

In short, Central Fixation is not solely about the centre of your sight, nor solely about the vision: 'Central Fixation' is by definition about the balance of the visual field and the balance of the mind: that which is central to both, being clearly distinct and discernable from that which is not central.

When the eye possesses central fixation it not only possesses perfect sight, but it is perfectly at rest and can be used indefinitely without fatigue.

W H Bates: Perfect Sight Without Glasses 1920 pg 117

Strain can be defined as unnecessary and inappropriate effort applied to the task at hand. If you strain to see, the eye muscles tighten, the eyes cease to move freely and the retinas become desensitised. The mind simultaneously is held in a state of effortful perception and thinking, which can then have an impact on other areas of the body, beyond the physical and mental processes of vision.

image

In the early stages of a visual problem, it may be quite easy to let go of the strain. However if the visual problem has become established, a person can be so physically and mentally accustomed to the strain that it is often difficult to understand or let go. Glasses and contact lenses compound the issue by locking the strain in place and rewarding the person with a form of 'clear sight' that leaves no room to explore any flexibility or the causes. That is why so many orthodox vision professionals believe that the eye is fixed and vision cannot improve.

As Bates wrote:

The eye with normal sight never tries to see. If for any reason, such as the dimness of the light, or the distance of the object, it cannot see a particular point, it shifts to another. It never tries to bring out the point by staring at it, as the eye with imperfect sight is constantly doing.

W H Bates: Perfect Sight Without Glasses 1920 pg 106

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.

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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

The method seeks to re-awaken a natural process, so the experience of learning the method is often described as 'un-learning'. This is because our innate ability to see is naturally re-established when harmful habits are dropped.

At first simple techniques are taught that encourage relaxed use of the eyes, and so the student can learn the difference between strain and relaxation. From there it becomes possible to understand the ways in which the eyesight has been sabotaged - from overuse and lack of adequate visual rest, to learning how to identify mental distractions that undermine the quality of visual experience in each moment.

Vision - Seeing - takes place only in the present and every technique of the method puts a person into the present moment in an easy and relaxed manner. As the vision is a combination of both physical reception of light and its neurological interpretation in the mind, when the eyes and the mind work together the whole visual system begins to rebalance itself.

No. Long term misuse of the eyes can lead to poor muscle tone and unco-ordinated movements but the active and dynamic process of normal sight is the cause of good muscle tone, not the other way around.

The Bates Method encourages full engagement of the visual experience, no matter what the condition of sight. Even in cases of severe visual problems, the Bates techniques stimulate the neural pathways between eye and brain, and natural muscle tone will result.

Education

  • Most optometrists learn in college that nothing can be done to improve vision.
  • Optometrists are trained to measure vision in a fixed way and to prescribe glasses. Bates teachers state that glasses are no solution to the problem and merely serve as a palliative measure that masks the symptoms of poor sight.
  • Optometrists regard vision as a purely physical and mechanical process, regarding the lens and shape of the eye as fixed as if it were made of glass. Bates teachers engage with the person behind the eyesight and regard the function of the eye as a living, organic process that engages physical, mental and emotional aspects of the person who is seeing.
  • While there are a few optometrists who acknowledge the value of the method it is still difficult for them to use it properly. The financial structure of conventional optometry requires the optometrist to see 3 or 4 patients an hour and preferably to sell all of them glasses. Many will work directly or indirectly for optical companies, or have set up their business with big loans: they simply cannot afford to spend the time teaching a Method that requires in-depth understanding of their patients.

Bates teachers come from all walks of life: they are all people who have been successful in other fields, and who have experienced the benefit of the method for themselves. Many have experience in other areas of education.

The basic fundamentals can be taught in about six to ten lessons and it is recommended that an interested student prepare to undertake about that many in order to receive a solid foundation.

If your condition is slight or of a recent nature often six to ten lessons is all that is needed to get back on track. More long standing conditions commonly require a longer commitment: a person with deeply set habits of strain often needs significant guidance and support when learning how to let go.

Within ten lessons almost all people come to understand what it is that is hampering their vision and can recognise how the Method can help them. Because it is an educational process, no two students respond in exactly the same way, so any prediction on exactly how long it takes for any particular person becomes a collection of educated guesses.

Many patients ask how long it will take to be cured. The answer is that it takes only as long as it takes to relax. If this can be done in five minutes, the patient is cured in five minutes, no matter how great the degree of his error of refraction, or how long its duration. All persons with errors of refraction are able to relax in a few seconds under certain conditions, but to gain permanent relaxation usually requires considerable time.

W H Bates: Better Eyesight Magazines September 1919

Health

Glasses and lenses are usually employed to counteract the poor vision that comes when eyes have developed a refractive error. If you believe, as most optometrists do, that the refractive error is due to heredity or old age then glasses would seem to be the only possible solution.

In the Bates Method this whole approach is regarded as completely illogical. As the increase of vision abnormalities coincides with the increasing complexity of society and its distancing from the visual experiences of yesteryear, limiting the factors that cause poor vision to only heredity or old age is an error.

Human beings are as much children of nature as any other species and the fact that large numbers of people need to employ artificial aids in order to see is a tragedy. Culture constantly feeds the dream that the quick fix is the only solution; but forgets to tell you that addressing the cause of the problem is the wiser choice.

As soon as glasses are removed the refractive error is still there, and if glasses are worn continuously over time the poor vision will generally become worse. Essentially what glasses do is lock the eyes into their refractive state and in order to see through your lenses you have to maintain the poor vision that the lenses are designed to correct.

Ultimately it is a choice of approach. If the causes of poor sight can be addressed in a meaningful way that helps you to understand your self, helps your sight and puts you in touch with how to use your eyes well, then there is nothing right about lenses at all.

As for putting glasses upon a child it is enough to make the angels weep.

W H Bates: Perfect Sight Without Glasses 1920 pg 85

It is ideal to stop wearing glasses, but at first this may not be possible. The degree of visual difficulty, the personality, the tasks and jobs in which the eyes are to be used are all factors which influence the approach in how to reduce and finally remove the need for glasses.

Even people with high prescriptions are often pleasantly surprised at how much they can see once they start learning how to use their eyes well, and commonly wear their glasses much less than they thought possible.

An additional option for high prescription wearers is to obtain reduced prescription lenses. These are especially useful when they are needed for critical tasks or where they are strong enough to meet a legal requirement, like driving.

The essential approach is to learn how to use your eyes in a more relaxed way. You can still do this to some extent while wearing glasses - and as they begin to feel restricting you will naturally want to take them off.

If you are working with a teacher you can discuss your options and look for the approach that meets your needs.The experience of coming out of glasses is unique to each individual.

Doing without glasses a little longer each day is a good way to begin. If one has been wearing glasses for a long time, it is much easier for the patient to gradually do without them, if he is not under treatment for the removal of glasses.

W H Bates: Batter Eyesight Magazine September 1929

Some people get good results from laser surgery, others end up no better off and there are also some real horror stories; cases where serious problems have arisen that cannot be reversed.

Apart from the risks, the justification for using surgery is no different from the underlying philosophy of using lenses: it is still suppressing symptoms rather than revealing the cause. There is clear evidence for this in the number of surgical cases which appear to achieve successful correction but then regress over time.

From the Bates perspective, "tatooing your prescription onto your eyeball" is a really bad choice, as it precludes you from ever experiencing your natural sight unhindered.

No. The loss of focusing ability in later life is mainly due to acquired habits of strain and can be both prevented and reversed. Many quite elderly people have regained good near vision and more flexible focus after many years of depending on glasses to read.

Most cases of poor near vision that arise around the age of 40, if caught early, can be easily turned around, but often students going through this experience are surprised that the poor habits that led to the deterioration began many years earlier - sometimes as early as childhood.

The first patient that I cured of presbyopia was myself.

W H Bates: Perfect Sight Without Glasses 1920 pg 216

Eye diseases are indications of poor general health and should always be treated constitutionally.

Damaged and diseased eyes are prone to excessive strain, as any impairment of vision is often exaggerated by the disease. As strain is commonly accompanied by extra tension, the Bates Method can help to promote healing through relaxation of the muscles around the eyes and face.

Bates teachers always aim to work in co-operation with physicians.

Wonderful cures have been accomplished, after all other methods had failed, of many eye diseases by the proper use of the imagination.

W H Bates: Better Eyesight Magazine October 1924

Imbalances between the eyes can be improved by subtle and effective techniques based on relaxation and brain integration. Dr Bates' principles of relaxation and central fixation can be applied to binocular problems in a variety of ways and although it is often stated by optometrists and doctors that these problems cannot be rectified unless treatment is given early in life, Bates teachers have recorded many remarkable successes at all stages of life.

Yes. Children from about five years can work very happily with a teacher. Younger children can be helped by their parents with a teacher's guidance.

In any situation where a child is experiencing visual difficulty it is always most helpful if the parents or guardians learn the method along with the child, even if they already have very good vision. As a child absorbs their habits of seeing from the surrounding environment, the family's involvement is often very effective in counteracting the core habits of strain.

Permanent relaxation can be obtained by any of the methods used in the cure of errors of refraction, but in the case of young children who do not know their letters these methods have to be modified.

Such children can be cured by encouraging them to use their eyes on any small objects that interest them. There are many ways in which this can be done, and it is important to devise a variety of means so that the child will not weary of them. For the same reason the presence of other children is at times desirable.

There must be no compulsion and no harshness, for as soon as any method ceases to be pleasant it ceases to be beneficial.

W H Bates: Better Eyesight Magazine March 1930

It is far easier to prevent the onset of vision problems than it is to reverse them, and we would always recommend a person learn the habits of good sight consciously, before they lose them unconsciously. Understandably few people have the incentive to come to lessons until there is already a problem, but the nature of sight is best maintained, rather than having to be saved.

Apart from the value of prevention, 'normal' sight can be improved still further and many people with good sight have experienced such benefits as improved concentration, faster reading, better all-round co-ordination, sleep, digestion and sense of calm.

Since central fixation is impossible without mental control, central fixation of the eye means central fixation of the mind. It means, therefore, health in all parts of the body, for all the operations of the physical mechanism depend upon the mind. Not only the sight, but all the other senses—touch, taste, hearing and smell—are benefited by central fixation. All the vital processes—digestion, assimilation, elimination, etc.—are improved by it. The symptoms of functional and organic diseases arc relieved. The efficiency of the mind is enormously increased. The benefits of central fixation already observed are, in short, so great that the subject merits further investigation.

W H Bates: Perfect Sight Without Glasses 1920 pg 122

Computers can be a strong stimulus to practice strain, but it's not inevitable. The key to choice in avoiding the strain is to understand that it is not the computer that does anything to you, but it is in what you do to yourself in response to working on the computer.

The first issue is understanding the nature of the visual process when looking at a screen. The screen itself contains information that is occupying the mind, and it becomes possible to be so occupied that the vision is forgotten. The eyes become used and over-used, merely as transmitters of information, glued to a screen and presenting the mind with words and graphics for it to interpret. The pure process of simply seeing for the joy of it is largely forgotten, and with the fixed distance of the screen the eyes are left with precious little of what they expect: colour, movement, variety and depth - so it's no wonder they start feeling pretty neglected.

Establish habits where you take frequent breaks: looking around the room only momentarily can produce instant relief. Make your work environment beautiful to look at: plants, bright colours, pictures. Even toys and objects of curiosity dotted around the desk can provide a much needed alternative focus for the eyes to play with. Try to situate your desk so you can easily look out of a window.

If you can touch type, practise it so you can happily type with your eyes closed, or looking elsewhere. If you can't touch type, it is a skill well worth learning.

By learning to keep the eyes relaxed while working, many problems can be avoided.

Questions from readers : Jobs, practice, conditions

Question

My 6 Year old son has just been prescribed glasses for astigmatism. The optician said this was unlikely to get better and may in fact become worse as he gets older. The problem is in his right eye. His left eye is apparently perfect! Can the Bates Method help?

Answer

Yes the Bates Method can help - it's important to note that individual response to the Method does vary somewhat, and much depends on the student's willingness and ability to learn. Children, particularly if interested in the Method, often get along pretty well with it, as they are young and tend to have flexible thought processes! If the child likes the Method, he or she can find it incredibly fun.

Adults by comparison can be 'set in their ways', so more dedication can be required for older students. In the case of your son, it's also important to think about the other members of the family - for instance, if you have eyesight difficulty, then your son will very likely be picking up vision habits from you that are contributing to the condition. Very often the ideal situation for a child is for his or her parents to be willing to look at their own vision habits. This can make a huge difference.

Question

My optician has just told me that I have started developing cataracts. Can the Bates method help without surgery? I am male and 69 years old.

Answer

Yes, the Bates Method can help. Its fundamental benefit is to teach you how to relax, and release the eyes and so avoid any contributing or reactive strain from the condition. Basically, the Bates Method teaches you how to use your eyes well, and in a relaxed manner. Obviously when you have a physical problem, like cataract, it is very easy and understandable to get caught up in a pattern of tension of strain and stress. Once this strain starts to release, then the condition has a chance to heal, as much as it is able. Unfortunately, there can be absolutely no guarantee that the condition will reverse - although it has been known to happen - and much depends on the length of time the condition has been in evidence, and how far it has progressed.

Furthermore, people who have had cataracts and also used the Bates Method will have a good chance of having a very successful surgery. Teaching the person how to allow their eyes to release is of use in any visual circumstance, including healing from an eye operation.

Question

Just what does the word ‘Fixation’ mean in the term: ‘Central Fixation’?

Answer

The term ‘central fixation’ is perhaps one of the most frequently confused Bates method terms, and this is because the word ‘fixation’ has several uses in the English language which are contrary to the intended understanding in ophthalmology and the Bates method. Generally people think the word implies a fixed, held, or static state (cf. definitions Nos. 1-3 below). However, in ophthalmology the definition is quite different:

6. (ophthalmology) - direction of the gaze so that the visual image of the object falls on the fovea centralis.

This is in direct alignment with Dr Bates’ intention. That is, that ‘central fixation’ is a pattern of visual engagement which is in accordance with normal use and anatomy of the eyes and neurology of the brain. What ophthalmology doesn't readily acknowledge is that it's possible for the mind to become habitually engaged in activities other than what is being directly observed, and that this can be a possible foundation for visual impairment in the long term. This is the essence of what the Bates method teaches.

fixation /fix·a·tion/ (fik-sa´shun): 

  1. the process of holding, suturing, or fastening in a fixed position.
  2. the condition of being held in a fixed position.
  3. in psychiatry: (a) arrest of development at a particular stage, or (b) a close suffocating attachment to another person, especially a childhood figure, such as a parent.
  4. the use of a fixative to preserve histological or cytological specimens.
  5. in chemistry, the process whereby a substance is removed from the gaseous or solution phase and localized.
  6. in ophthalmology, direction of the gaze so that the visual image of the object falls on the fovea centralis.
  7. in film processing, removal of all undeveloped salts of the film emulsion, leaving only the developed silver to form a permanent image.


Further reading:

Understanding the basics #1 - Central Fixation

Seeing.org FAQ - Central Fixation

Question

Regarding your FAQ question - 'Do I have to stop wearing glasses?', I was surprised at your advice.

I've just read "Better Eyesight with Glasses" by Bates from cover to cover. However, I was a bit disheartened to read in Chapter 20 'Home Treatment' that: "It is absolutely necessary that glasses be discarded. No halfway measures can be tolerated if complete relief is desired. Do not wear weaker glasses and do not wear glasses for emergencies. People who are unable to do without glasses for all purposes (my emphasis) are unlikely to be able to cure themselves".

Although, I was feeling a bit disheartened by this, as I found it extremely difficult to go without glasses all the time, I was surprised (but happy!) at your less strict view on the complete discarding of glasses.

Do you recognise Bates's view on this as stated in the book? and how did you come to your more lenient (contradictory?) conclusions about leaving them off when it's convenient and having the strength progressively reduced?

Answer

It's important to note that your quote comes from a chapter on Home Treatment, where no teacher is available. Usually if a person's eyesight is too poor to do without glasses (for all purposes) then they would very likely need professional guidance to help them to let go of strain without their glasses on. Bates was indicating that home treatment was not advised for people in this condition as they would strain too much while trying out the method.

In teaching such people teachers will sometimes advise a program of reduced prescription lenses - thus the person still has some room for improvement, without the Method disrupting their daily tasks. Getting reduced prescriptions can really only be safely done in conjunction with guidance - there is an enormous pressure to make an effort when things are ‘almost in focus’ so learning to release the habit of strain is paramount.

Of course, reduced prescription glasses do not have to be worn continuously, so the main practice of the Method can still take place without glasses.

Question

My son has just been diagnosed as having keratoconus. Is there any chance he can be helped with vision techniques?

Answer

This is a question I would like to throw open to the readers of these pages. Does anyone know of a successful outcome for this condition? So far my researches have drawn a blank, but if you have the condition don't lose heart. I am just one person amongst millions. the disease is very rare, and as is usual with so-called incurable diseases, if one person manages to completely reverse their symptoms, the facts are usually dismissed as anecdotal and the evidence swept under a rug.

Just bear in mind that you will undoubtedly have to do as much research as you can and be truly dedicated to the quest. It is also worth noting that any disease is not really a fixed absolute - if you saw your condition get slowly worse it means you saw your condition go through changes. In our civilisation we tend to think that once one starts in one direction, it's against all reason to stop and head another way.

Miss Sage, the Grande Dame of Bates Method in the United Kingdom, was of the opinion that kerato conus was like a pimple that had formed on the front of the eyeball. Her opinion was that it should be possible to reverse the symptom if the person was willing to research detoxification of the whole system. Has anyone been doing this? Let us know so we can spread your knowledge to those in need.

The two keys to look for in any disease are cause and habit - sometimes these come in one very large parcel! If kerato conus is result of systemic toxaemia then the path would lead us to a way of removing the causes of toxaemia, and providing the conditions of health.

Try finding out more about toxaemia from the following:

http//healthscience.org

Vision Techniques will be able to help where the kerato-conus has led to increased strain in the surrounding facial tissues through trying to push through the condition. To decrease the strain will enable greater ease and better nutrition and drainage through the symptomatic area. I would guess that progress would be likely to be slow, or even imperceptible. Keeping a diary would be one way of assessing accurately what progress is being made.

Question

Dear Sir, I really need to improve my eyesight as I wish to become an airline pilot and my eyesight prescription is as follows:

left: -5.50D (-0.75 astigmatism)
right:-5.25D (-1.75D astigmatism)

The CAA requires that all applicants must have vision no worse than -3.00 D.
Will it be possible for me to improve by this amount?

Answer

Yes it is possible, but unfortunately no guarantees can be given - simply because every case is different in terms of dedication, and how fixed the poor vision habits have become. On the positive side, you would know pretty definitely how effective it would be for you in the space of approximately 6 - 10 lessons - most people experience noticeable benefit within that period, and know for themselves whether they would like to continue with the method or not.

Question

"I find palming boring and have been annoyed that I have been required to do it when visiting Bates teachers. Clearly I have been under a strain during these moments and this does not seem to have been Bates approach. Bates teachers seem to expect great things from their clients palming sessions whereas Bates appeared ready to work with the strain before doing anything else. Could you comment on this?"

Answer

Yes, there is a quote from Bates' book which sums this up well

PSWG pg 101

To secure permanent relaxation sometimes requires considerable time and much ingenuity. The same method cannot be used with everyone. The ways in which people strain to see are infinite, and the methods used to relieve the strain must be almost equally varied. Whatever the method that brings most relief, however, the end is always the same, namely relaxation. By constant repetition and frequent demonstration and by all means possible, the fact must be impressed upon the patient that perfect sight can be obtained only by relaxation. Nothing else matters.

The phrase that echoed in my mind was those last three words. "Nothing else matters".

So, the emphasis is drawn away from any particular technique like palming bringing about "x" specific result, and it is therefore given a much less direct cause and effect conception.

To give you an example of this:

One time a lady was palming and not having much fun at it. She kept seeing an orange ball of fire in her field of vision, and the more she saw it, the angrier she became with it. This went around and around for several minutes as I began slowly to draw her attention into not trying to change anything. Finally, I had an intuition as to what was happening, and I said to her the following words:

"How would it be, if you conceive that this orange ball of fire, is simply a picture of your own frustration with it."

Two seconds later she said, in a tone of astonishment mixed with relief and disbelief - "It's gone". She exhaled much air with those words.

So it was not palming that achieved the change here, but her own understanding of what she was doing as she was palming. Palming, in a sense, was bringing up right in her face an aspect of her personality that was simply an out of control feedback loop. It was something she had difficulty identifying, and a mental habit - as soon as the futility of this way of relating to herself (and the world in general) was brought to her awareness however, it left immediately.

This kind of scenario happens often, but it's never the same - one time another lady saw stars zooming past, and she was terrified, and wanted them to slow down. The solution? Don't strain, let them be that fast - again within seconds she said "They've slowed down."

Another student once said to me that she was aware of an enormous mental block in the way of her palming - that she could sense it. This student had a lot of insights from various other disciplines, and she checked in with her "inner guidance" as she put it, to which the answer, much to her surprise, was - don't do anything to it

I commented to her that that is exactly right, because as soon as you try and do anything to change what's there, you do the very thing that creates the block. Two weeks after this, she told me that the block had dissolved - all that was required was that she become conscious of it.

Boredom is a tricky one, because it is in a sense a kind of disengagement, and it is hard to bring it out to the surface. Things like anger, and fear are easily engaged - they are obvious "actions" being taken by the person, and redirecting them is taking in hand an energetic involvement that is already active.

If you think of boredom as coming from the act of palming, then introduce the idea that in fact it is something you do at other times, and palming is showing you your habit of boredom. You can probably conceive that somewhere inside you is the knowledge you can sit quietly with no stimulus other than what your ears and skin tell you, and be perfectly happy. Where that place is, is probably at present quite safely out of bounds for one reason or another.

But always the essential ingredients are - observe, wait, and if things are not working and becoming unproductive, stop, and let it settle. Pushing palming is as unproductive as any other form of strain.

It is, however, possible to take a less direct "hit" off the boredom (or anger or frustration etc.), and assume more of a witness position with yourself ("I feel bored. I notice this happening to me, how interesting") - and in that way you can engage with your responses in a non-judgmental manner. Increasing the level of easy, non-judgmental engagement is always going to help. This is relaxed activity

Further Question:

"As the concept of mental strain seems relevant to me this is the angle I have pursued. My experience of psychotherapy as a way of removing strain was not helpful and its interesting that hundreds of thousands of myopic psychotherapy clients have remained myopic after psychotherapy. "Buena Vista in their working.html say that myopes fall asleep when they fully relax and I would say this is my experience. Of course it's possible I might be able to relax perfectly sometimes and remain awake but I have no idea if I can."

Answer:

Palming brings up what needs to be brought up - if you fall asleep when palming, it means you're tired. This can be from the full impact of having been straining for so long, but it can also be from lack of sleep.

There can definitely be a very peculiar tiredness as people let go of strain - and is often accompanied with a comment "What have I been doing to myself?" I've occasionally known people after releasing a shipload of strain to go home and just crash in the middle of the day, and sleep and sleep and sleep.


Q. If one's arms become tired while palming, will a black silk handkerchief covering the eyes produce the same amount of relaxation one gets from palming? A. No. Palming is the best method for relaxation and improvement in vision. When tired of palming, the hands can be removed and the eyes kept closed until one feels relaxed.

W H Bates: Better Eyesight Magazines August 1922

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