The 13th of October was World Sight Day. For those of us who have sight, a massive amount of brain power is taken up by the visual cortex: the part of the brain that interprets the light, shapes and colours that come in through our eyes.
It’s not a part of our selves that we think of as having habits, but in the same way that we have a dominant hand, we also have a dominant eye. Over the years I have worked with a few people who wanted to improve their sight, and whilst we can’t do much internally, when there are muscles involved we can always make improvements!
Try this out!
Sit, or lie down. Turn your head a few times to the Right, and a few times Left. Notice which way is smoother, more fluid- smoothness is how we judge quality of movement. Notice if you can turn your head further one way than the other- without straining. What do your eyes do? Do they go with your head, stay fixed on one spot, or does your gaze move as you turn your head.
A short lesson for you to try out.
Stop, close your eyes, and take a few moments to allow your breath to settle and to focus in on the eyes. Can you feel the weight of the eye balls in the sockets?
Bring your gaze (behind your closed eyes) to the middle. Very gently, and without any straining, slide your eyes a small amount, a few millimetres, to the Right and back to the middle. Make a micro-pause and breathe when your eyes get back to the centre. Notice if one eye leads the way? As you slide your eyes towards the Right, notice if you tense your mouth or jaw, and relax it, if so. NB. Occasionally some people feel a little nauseous working with the eyes. If that happens to you, stop, leave it, come back later, but make all your movements twice as small and slow.
Notice if one eye is leading the way. Concentrate on that eye, and on making the movement as smooth as possible. Keep the movement small. We tend to have a little strain towards the end of the range of the eyes, and in trying to improve the skill of the eye, it’s easier fro the brain to learn without this strain. Feel if the other eye lags behind. Once you’ve moved the eye 3-5 times, swap over, and concentrate on the second eye- look for finding the smoothest movement possible, as if your eyeballs were floating in water. Do this 3-5 times (or as long as is interesting) and pause. Move the eyes right, thinking of both of them and see if they move further, or if the “middle” seems as if it’s in the same place.
Come back to turning your head to the L and R and see if it has improved.
Try it all out, sliding the eyes to the Left, either now, or come back later in the day. If you can, put an alarm clock on through your day, and make a few movements of the eyes, concentrating on how smoothly you can slide them, remembering how it felt.
The eyes are part of of the teleceptors, the organs of orientation, and they are important in organising the head. When we change something about how we use the eyes, other areas can also shift.
Here’s Feldenkrais writing a little about use of the eyes: “To my mind, the real trouble lies in the fact that we forget in the process of learning, that the principles we learn are themselves ephemeral and not absolute…Specialisation in a limited range of acts for long periods is the most difficult adjustment for man to make. If a man uses his eyes as people in the past did, i.e., to look at the horizon, at the sky, at his body and at his work, the eye goes through the complete range of its capacity, and ignorance of the proper use of the eyes has no chance to cause real harm. But when the scholar, or composer, or draughtsman has to use his eyes to focus at ten inches for hours on end, day after day, it is essential for him to know how to use the eyes properly.”
We’ll be thinking about the eyes in conjunction with the skeleton in our lessons this week. If that sounds interesting, do join us on the link below. If it’s your first class, I invite you to come for free.
If you discover something, have an opinion, or would simply like to share your thoughts on the matter: do add a comment, I’d be pleased to hear from you.
Never Stop! The Feldenkrais Summit for Performing Artists
October 25th-30th, online.
I’m really excited to be a speaker at this amazing event, the Artistry of Self-Care Feldenkrais for Performers, alongside my many fantastic colleagues! On one of my favourite topics!
Registration is free and you will have access to all the presentations for 48 hours for free, along with a host of giveaways (my offering is a workshop on Improving your Breathing and Stage Anxiety).
If you’re a musician, actor, singer, dancer, do any kind of performing, and are interested in improving how you do what you do, this will be a brilliant event. Please do share information with friends and colleagues.
All us speakers will be participating for free, but should you decide along the line to buy long term access (if you register through my affiliate link), I’ll receive a small fee.