Bates Method International

Techniques: The Drifting Swing

The Drifting Swing was born of necessity. Bates relates the story in the Better Eyesight Magazines, where one day a patient came to him who could not be helped by any of the other techniques that he had already devised.

I tried many things that I knew and after I had exhausted the things that I had already practiced, I realized that I was up against it, and had to devise and have him practice with benefit, something that I had never recommended before. As he could not think of anything continuously without discomfort, I suggested that he let his mind drift...
Wm H Bates: Better Eyesight Magazines, January 1924

The Drifting Swing

The technique is to let your eyes and mind keep moving continuously from object to object in the room. As you regard each object, think about a similar object that you know of already in your memory. For example, if you happened to glance at a curtain, think of another curtain that you can recall for a brief moment; then move on.

Each object you see and think of is held only momentarily, the sensation of seeing is constantly linked in with your memory of similar objects, and so with a little application it becomes possible to experience seeing without responsibility or expectation.

The links in the memory do not have to be precise or factual - this is not a test, all that is required is that your eyes and mind are engaged in doing the same thing at the same time: this is every Bates technique.

After a little time the lack of pressure on the visual system, and the lack of pressure on the mind in 'performing' has the effect of making an apparent effortless movement in the opposite direction of the movement of the head and eyes.

It's a quiet and apparently innocuous technique, but perhaps the most subtly powerful of all.

The effect on Bates' patient on that day was very gratifying, as related, when he first came in nothing had been able to help him:

To hear him talk, he gave you the impression of being very miserable; and for some reason or other, he could describe the condition of general misery more vividly than I have ever had the pleasure (?) of hearing it described before.
Wm H Bates: Better Eyesight Magazines, January 1924

And later on after teaching him the Drifting Swing:

In this I believe, he succeeded, because when I invited him to go into another room, where he could test his sight with the Snellen Test Card, he was smiling, a new experience for him. His vision for distance was normal, and the speed with which he read all the letters on the test card was gratifying. The rest had given him, at least temporarily, perfect sight for the distance, whereas before even with his glasses on his vision was less than one-half the normal. He was also unable to read diamond type with or without his glasses. After practicing the drifting swing he read the diamond type rapidly, perfectly and without any apparent effort, at less than twelve inches. Then he said to me,

"Doctor, do you think you can help me?"

I answered him, "Did you read the test card and the fine print perfectly?"

"Yes," he answered and blushed.

That was the first time I ever saw a man blush under such circumstances. The blush was to me an admission that he realized that I had given him a temporary cure.
Wm H Bates: Better Eyesight Magazines, January 1924