If only “my eyes would see a little better” as sings Nina Simone. I’ve been doing eye exercises inspired by the Bates' method for the last two to three weeks and the effects have been quite remarkable.
I noticed that every time I focused on images on pages, on tips of pencils going forward and back, and moved my eyes without moving my head in different directions following a circle at the centre of a sun-like feature… I experienced something like a biodynamic craniosacral session.
At the beginning, I was doing about 30 minutes plus every day and emotional releases as well as physiological reactions took place. I could feel my sphenoid, occiput, heart, gut, pelvis, whole spine and body respond.
As I concluded each session with a very soothing palming exercise for 10-15 minutes, I felt a cleansing effect on my eyes and a profound relaxation of my whole being while the session's internal unfoldings continued.
So by the end of the exercises, I definitely could see better and by that I mean that the sensory input, the information my eyes welcomed was more vibrant/potent, clearer, calmer and more defined.
I have followed some of my sessions by walks and noticed how much more ‘present’ the natural environment around me was. Of course it was my perception of it that was more in the present space and time, as I was more embodied.
My internal perception of my eyes has changed also. I feel them larger, with less tension around and within them, and seeing more quantitatively as well as qualitatively, particularly right after the exercises.
I have noticed that at least 30 minutes a day gives the best results.
The Bates Method for Better Eyesight Without Glasses was published in 1919. A doctor and lecturer in ophthalmology in New York, Bates broke with the prevailing practice of the time by explaining that, "the main accommodation tool is not the lens, but the external eyeball muscles responsible not only for the eyes movement, but also lengthening and shortening of the whole eye in its front-rear axle". (https://www.bateseyeexercises.com/basicInformation.php)
Up to the age of 45-46 I had 20/20 vision in both eyes. The first thing I noticed as I was also a clothes designer at the time, was that I could not thread a needle anymore, my vision became blurred and this eventually applied also to small characters on restaurant menus, food packaging etc…
I can read most books without glasses still but my eyes tire more easily and I can feel their tension, like echoing ‘circles’ rippling in my cranial fluid.
Even during the exercises proper I could 'follow' the internal connections of the optic nerve to the visual cortex near my brainstem —the nerve highway cluster sitting at the top of the spine— as well as down my whole spine to the sacrum. Everything became 'switched on', engaged.
We call this craniopelvic resonance in cranio speak. It is one of the key observations and manifestation we perceive and listen to during a session. Its tone, or felt sense, is a kind of physiological and emotional signature at a particular time.
There is interconnectivity throughout our body but the spine is quite a fundamental axis from and through which nerves send billions of messages, connect to all our viscera and connective tissues…all bathed in fluid and enlivened, nourished with blood.
Our bodies truly are astounding and stunning miracles simply because they are alive.
So as my internal awareness continues to wander while doing my exercises, I begin to notice emotions arising, primary respiration (inner fluid rhythms) expressing and my whole system going into craniosacral motion mode. And just like in a session I eventually come to a still point, to a sense of still-moving wholeness.
As I stare at a pen I realise that here is my 'therapist', my still fulcrum. Rollin Becker explains very well how the therapist in a craniosacral session acts as an organising centre of stillness to which the client’s Health orients while physiological patterns reorganise.
The biodynamic craniosacral practitioner is also a 'knowing' container and skilled supporter of whatever arises during a session.
As my ego, my personality, gets out of the way, “I” becomes what Becker called a “Silent Partner”. We all have one: “the Silent Partner is not anthropomorphic— it is itself” (The Stillness of Life)
Through the awareness of craniosacral contact, “I am aware of something going on within you because it has been activated.” My ‘Silent Partner’ is speaking with yours. “It’s simply a matter of continuing to surrender as a conscious awareness experience…”
So my eye exercises activate my ‘Silent Partner’ and help me, facilitate me, to simply surrender to it.
As Rollin Becker adds, “it’s possible in spite of the fact that we’re walking through this world, always to be in constant surrender to this thing you just made contact with.” (The Stillness of Life)
But as we’re constantly and increasingly distracted by the world we live in, it is very easy to lose this contact with the present moment, with embodied interoceptive presence.
The eyes are the windows to our soul, as many said. When I look at them in isolation, they remind me of planets. The optic nerve is directly connected to the brain and is part of our central nervous system. It carries information to the visual cortex at the back of the head, in the occipital lobe, just above our reptilian brain or cerebellum.
Eyes are like “stalks sticking out from the brain” say Steve Haines and Ged Sumner. "There are 30 different areas involved in the perception of vision, including parts of the limbic system, an area better known for its role in processing emotion.” (Cranial Intelligence, Steve Haines and Ged Sumner)
Haines and Sumner add that, “we see with our brain not our eyes.”
I would go further because my experience of the Bates' exercises involved far more than just the brain. The whole being felt engaged including other nervous centres such as the gut and the heart.
Haines and Sumner actually explain that,“Bates-related methods build on the conviction that eyesight is not jut a mechanical process of acuity, but the body, mind, emotions, behaviour and environment are all interdependent factors in the act of seeing.” (Cranial Intelligence)
I would concur and love this quote from Mathew 6:22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”