Feldenkrais & Your Eyes:
Better Vision, Better Motion, Better Coordination
The Sunflower Centre, Brockley, SE4
November 4th 2018
A carefully chosen selection of classic Awareness Through Movement lessons for improving both the way you see, the way you move, and – an important added bonus – improving your ability to let go of tension in and around your eyes - a powerful way to relieve stress throughout your nervous system.
Are you ready to discover that you can make a real difference to the healthy functioning of your eyes in one day? Positive reports so far include easier night vision and the retreat of age-related reading problems, so imagine what might happen if you practised regularly!
There are many teachers out there helping people to improve their vision and Moshe Feldenkrais is not unique in focussing on the bigger picture – balance, mobility and posture all improve as eye function improves – but he certainly gains points for creativity and portability, as his exercises do not require props – you can do them anywhere.
Moshe knew how significant learning to see was for our development from passive babies into active toddlers, and many of his lessons for the freedom and mobility in the neck and spine incorporate effective explorations of how we see and how we use our eyes without making a fuss about it, but he was also very interested in the possibility of vision improvement and was a very early adopter of laser eye surgery, although apparently not very happy with the result as he was advised to have a reading eye and a distance eye and he struggled to get them into any kind of synchrony, leading to his distinctive squinting expression in later years.
Something to try for yourself…
Your eyes are even more in charge than it may seem at first examination. Try this mini awareness experiment if you would like to experience the way your eyes tell your body what to do:
If you are new to Awareness Through Movement then do note that you will achieve much more if you do much less, so as you follow these instructions explore the possibility of moving considerably more slowly than you usually do. It will make it easier to notice anything new or different – Gregory Bateson is very good at explaining why this is more effective for sensory-motor learning…
Sit on your sitting bones, close your eyes, and shift around on your bottom for a little while. Notice how closing your eyes makes it easier to notice more of what is happening in your torso as you move about. Make your shifting smaller and smaller in range until you feel you are sitting with your weight very central – when you find this place you will feel that you are doing very little in the way of muscular work to maintain your uprightness. You may have opened your eyes to check what comes next, if so compare the act of focussing your attention inwards with your eyes open – is it different?
Now for part two – close your eyes again and then move YOUR EYES ONLY to your right. As we do with this Method, move your eyes slowly, and avoid any exertion, look for the range of motion you can achieve without effort (much the way a gear stick moves in neutral), then repeat many times gently and slowly, and pay attention to your developing ease, and to what you notice happening in your neck and possibly quite a distance down your spine – it may feel as if you have to exert yourself not to turn your head in synchrony with your eyes. We do make independent eye movements – it is a useful way to check out a nearby situation without anyone else noticing our interest and/or unease. Imagine how much extra work your neck muscles are performing when you sit in front of a screen all day moving only your eyes…
We know ourselves and the world around us directly only through the mediation of our sensory-motor nervous system – that scene in the Matrix with fully-grown functional humans in artificial wombs from birth is beyond absurd! – and in the hierarchy of our sensory organs it is obvious why the eyes occupy such a significant amount of our brain’s hard drive. Eyes were so useful they evolved many times over, and light is so vital for making sense of the world – indeed it is enabling us to make sense of the universe – that it is no wonder that the organ that processes it for us dominates our brain function, accounting for at least 30% of our brain’s processing power – possibly more, I have seen estimates of 60% in the past, however for the life of me I cannot remember where. An experiment conducted on ferrets at the University Of Rochester in 2004 suggests that even in darkness our eyes are working away at 80% of full capacity – so you can see how learning to lower this some of this activity constant activity might have a beneficial effect on the feeling of being stressed and overloaded in our daily lives.
The Workshop Promo!
There is a lot of fascinating research on our eyes and how they function online, and we all already have far too much reading to do, so I just want to say that the great thing about Awareness Through Movement lessons is that changes happen and you notice the difference right away, perhaps over the following few days if the changes are very subtle. The muscles that organise the eyes are just as susceptible to releasing and lowering excessive tonus as any of our other muscles, and the added benefit is that, because the brain is so engaged with the eyes, when they relax they bring about a lowering of excitation throughout the whole of your nervous system – in other words, relaxing your eyes is a great way to de-stress yourself and even trigger a meditative state too!
I teach a couple of workshops on the healthy functioning of the eyes and their relevance to efficient movement, click here to see if I have one scheduled, or contact me to find out when the next one will be.