Tom Quackenbush joins us to discuss the Bates Method and how you can heal and protect yourself from eye strain. Tom tells us that there are three key natural principles underlying good vision. There’s movement. What Bates called central fixation, which Tom refers to as centralizing. Then relaxation is the most important principle Bates discovered about everything about good vision.
These three principles are what I’ve been teaching my students for the last 30 years. They’re natural and correct. People who wear glasses mainly do not have these principles. They’re interfering, as Dr. Bates said, with movement, centralizing and relaxation. Anyone who does that cannot have normal vision.
Why Blurry Vision Occurs and How Impact Eye Strain
Bates said one of the worst habits for vision is something called staring. This is a very big surprise for many people. Many people think, “I don’t think I stare. I don’t think I do that very much.” Normally I teach a seven-week course, and as we go through the week, students come back and say, “It seems like I stare a lot. Dr. Bates says this is a terrible, stressful vision habit.”
What is staring? There are actually many different types of starting. Probably the worst form of all is when a person has no movement, and they’re frozen. It’s kind of like they’re fixed. They’re not really seeing anything but their eyelids are open. They’re spaced out. Maybe they’re daydreaming or thinking about something else. What’s happening in that staring habit is that they’re frozen, and they’re not involved with seeing the world. It’s a strain to do that.
This has actually been proven by psychology research showing that when people stare, their vision goes down immediately. It’s been shown with animal research that all animals need to have their eyes continually moving in order to maintain normal vision.
One of the best ways for your listeners to play with this movement principle is to think they have a pretend pencil or feather on their nose, and they just begin moving their head.
It’s not correct only to move the eyes. We need to have movement for vison but not just the eyes. The head is also having movement. Bates wrote that both the eyes and the head are moving.
Bates Principles for Dealing with Eye Strain
What’s very interesting about vision is that the only place anyone can see clearly, and where we see best, is right in the center at a small point. You know with your work the macula lutea. Our best vision is right in the center, and that’s where we need to have our primary interest in the visual field all day long.
People who have blurry vision are defusing. They’re spreading out their attention and trying to see the entire picture clearly at once. That is impossible to do. It’s a strain to do that.
Dr. Bates taught his clients to come back to the center of the picture. Keep your primary attention there, and allow your peripheral to be just that: peripheral vision.
The final principle is relaxation, which means we should never be straining to see. A good example of straining to see would be a squinting habit where people tighten their eyelids, strain to see things and lock their neck tight. They’re putting in a force to see better. What Dr. Bates discovered is just the opposite is necessary. When we don’t strain to try to see, vision improves again.
Habits for Natural Remedies for Eye Problems
The shifting habit is simply the movement and centralizing. If we go to that nose and pencil idea I had, if we keep our neck mobile and shift, Bates said to shift from one point to another. Shifting is the movement, so we have a continual movement all day long.
The second habit is simply breathing. A moment ago you said the principles were simple. The habits are simple too. It’s abdominal breathing. Breathing is especially connected to the most important principle of all, which is the relaxation principle.
The third habit is blinking. Dr. Bates watched people who were wearing glasses. Their blinking was very seldom. Some people go for very long periods of time without blinking. Dr. Bates wrote a very simple two-word sentence: Blink frequently.
Healing the Eye Naturally
When people choose to improve their vision naturally, what will happen while they’re in that process – and it can be very soon or in weeks or months – is they begin to temporarily experience different stresses that were connected to the vision getting more blurry in the first place.
For example, with that staring habit we talked about, the student can begin to re-experience and have memories and emotions of whatever stresses were present when they first got blurry vision. When they first got glasses, there had to be some change. When you go from clarity to blurry vision in the beginning, there obviously has to be something that’s changing.
Tom encourages us saying that people at any age can definitely improve their vision. When they do, they begin having these emotions coming back. A very common one for nearsighted people is fear. They’re afraid of something, especially for children. They start that staring and spaced-out locking-up state that’s very harmful. The eye muscles begin to contract. The neck begins to contract and starts tightening up and squeezing the eyeball out of shape into blurry vision.