The Head Swing

The Head Swing deepens the experience of Swings and some find it challenging to practise successfully compared to the Long Swing. The reason for this lies in the nature of the movement.

The Head Swing

As with the Long Swing, the aim of The Head Swing is to allow the eyes to slide easily across the surfaces in front of you. It's a slightly strange request, because the eyes and mind naturally prefer to regard objects and take them in, not move on in every instant.

The problem with regarding objects and taking them in only arises when eyes have become impaired in some way and looking at objects has become an habitual experience of getting stuck: a process of forcing the vision or staring. In this condition it feels very awkward to move on easily and thus we use these swings and other techniques to help the sight back to being free and fluid.

The eyes also constantly compensate for any movement of the head and body - as you move or walk along your head may go through many continuous subtle shifts of angle, whether turning to the left or right, or just tilting slightly with each step.

Every one of these movements is assessed and adjusted automatically by the visual system, making it possible to track objects that are changing their position in relation to you.

What's needed with the Head Swing . . .

With the Head Swing it's necessary to learn how to let your eyes rest and not constantly adjust for the movement of your head. Here the motion takes place through your neck, meaning the physical movement is very close in proximity to your eyes.

Tools to help . . .

As with the Long Swing there are various ways in which people have found assistance through the use of pointers or with the conceptual equivalent. Here are a few that you may find useful:

A physical pointer:
  • Similar to its use in the Long Swing, this can be applied in the same way, as a point to look directly at, or beyond, or to split the point (gate technique). Use a knitting needle or a stick. To use something really special, an orchestral conductor's baton is wonderfully light for this.
Nose pencil:
  • Imagine your nose is very long and touches the surface of everything you a looking at. Draw an unbroken line from one side of the room to the other. Slowly. Follow the point with your eyes.
Nose brush/nose feather:
  • Some people find the 'pencil' too rigid and are helped more with a softer concept. Touching your visual field lightly with your eyes can make it easier to keep moving.
Third eye:
  • Imagine your Third Eye just in the middle of your forehead, picture it as being unable to turn in a socket so it always has to look directly out of your face. Imagine you are looking out of this eye and your two physical eyes just follow along.
Busy bugs:
  • As you look at the surface of your visual field imagine a small bug crawling along exactly where you are looking. This is great for showing just how slow you can go.
Scooters, bicycles, cars etc.:
  • Any object that moves - and you can imagine it - can be of assistance; the main thing is to keep your head and nose directly facing it . . . at least for the purposes of the head swing.
Real moving things:
  • This can be a fun game - using real cars or crowds of people all moving around, just pick one, follow it/him/her with your nose (turning your head, not literally sniffing the ground where they walked!) and notice the way in which the rest of the world moves in the opposite direction.

How to practice The Head Swing

  • To make this as effective as possible, sun and palm first.
  • Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, turn your head easily to the left and open your eyes. Regard a point on the surface of your visual field in the direction your nose is pointing. Imagine touching it with a finger/nose pencil, or whatever method you find most helpful.
  • Slowly and gently turn your head to the right, allowing the head and eyes to remain in alignment at all times. This can take some getting used to and it's helpful if you can have an observer give you independent feedback. The following photos show examples of what to look for:

Headswing 1

Here the student is looking directly ahead, the vision is attentive and focused on the distant surfaces in the room.

Headswing 2

Here the head swing continues with the eyes and head still in alignment, vision attentive and connected.

Headswing 3

Here is an example where the eyes have drifted ahead which indicates unwanted exertion of the eye muscles.

It is natural for your eyes to turn further than your head in everyday use, but for the purposes of learning how to relax your eyes, it's important to let your head do as much of the movement as possible. See if you can go gently enough to notice exactly when your eyes start to jump in on the act!

Getting the movement going . . .

  • As objects pass under your central gaze, notice them and let go of them. As you move to the right, objects in your right visual field move to the centre, cross it, and then move to the left visual field.
  • When you get to the far right, move in the opposite direction to the left - and all movements described above are reversed.
  • The sensation of movement in the visual field can come easily or can be difficult - for some people it can take many weeks to get it really going. The essential feature to understand is that the experience of movement is not only natural, but the more you see the movement the more it indicates that your eyes and mind are relaxing.
  • Once you've done a few passes, try it again with the eyes closed, remembering however much you can of the objects in your visual field: where they are and how they move from one field to the other in the opposite direction of the movement of your head.
  • It's not a race and not a test, there is no requirement to remember everything perfectly. Being gentle with yourself is the guaranteed method of making all of these things become very easy.

Open your eyes and practice the Head Swing.

Once you know it well it's very quick to apply at any time during the day: waiting for the bus, talking on the phone, washing the dishes, even when talking to people. It becomes a reminder to keep using your eyes well!

If you'd like to try out another angle on the head swing (or optical swing), the Vision Games section has The Moon Swing to try which uses animation on the screen to help get you started.

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Learn more about other techniques


Perhaps the simplest of all the techniques, Palming is also regarded as a foundation for learning how to relax the eyes and mind.

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Sunning is the effortless application of light to the eyes, it provides a similar foundation for the eyes as Palming.

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The Swings

The Swings introduce the vision and mind to movement in the world. This section contains descriptions of five different types of visual swing.

Learn More