I have heard of Feldenkrais and even had someone trained in the modality do a bodywork session on me once, but am not really familiar with any of its principles or protocols. I found this article that discusses Feldenkrais eye movement processes interesting, intriguing and informative…..
Feldenkrais eye lessons improved my vision and expanded my sense of self
(by Ilona Fried) How you use your eyes can change what you see!
How was that possible?
I’d enrolled in a training for the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education, developed by the Israeli engineer, judo black belt and visionary Moshe Feldenkrais, to heal a leg injury. We explored many verbally guided lessons, called Awareness Through Movement. Among these, we learned to work with our eyes in unfamiliar ways. Starting from different positions in lying and sitting, we gently and slowly rolled the eyes and sensed their weight in the sockets. In various experiments, we tried moving them independently of each other, or in a direction opposite to that of the head. By doing so carefully, and paying attention to when our eyes jumped rather than shifting smoothly, we began to create new neural pathways and possibilities.
Moving my eyes non-habitually felt like unplugging a wire that had rusted into a switchboard. Unaccustomed to the effort, my eye muscles began to tire. At the end of one lesson, however, I experienced my eyes as almost double their usual size, as if I’d become a reptile. Without having to turn or lift my head, I was able to take in 30 percent more of my environment than before. Moving my eyes also rearranged parts of myself I believed to be immutable. I’d spent much of the preceding decade making fine visual distinctions. As a designer and artist I’d worked with often tiny beads to make jewelry, and selected subtle colors, textures and shapes to create mosaics. I also spent hours doing graphic design, editing photos or proofreading. Yet, for a day and a half following a series of eye lessons, I had no desire to train my focus on a narrow area.
The absence of an urge to hone in on details or detect nuances, flaws or inconsistencies made it seem as if I had been handed a different personality if not a new self. The expansion and softening of my vision lifted my spirits and even straightened my spine. For the next 36 hours, this introvert experienced what I imagine it’s like to be an outgoing person, someone whose attention is more naturally drawn to the bigger picture rather than gravitating towards details.
The striking change helped me realize that I had become so identified with having a “good eye” that I unwittingly brought that trait everywhere, even to situations where it was irrelevant or counterproductive. My ability to observe what others overlooked had been more of a compulsion than a conscious choice to direct my attention for a certain purpose. I now had my own example of what Moshe Feldenkrais referenced in The Elusive Obvious: “We often make mistakes. We carry over from one activity to another attitudes of mind that do not make life what it could be…Somehow we behave as if good habits are always good.”
Another elusive truth is that our eyes direct the movement of the rest of the body. When humans hunted and gathered, our eyes oriented us to the surroundings. They helped us spot dinner (or threats) and identify and forage non-poisonous foods. Today, many of us hunt and gather online. We collect and analyze information for work or we’re in pursuit of a job, a good price, a new relationship, or an engaging Facebook discussion. The rest of our body still wants to participate in the action, so we might find ourselves slightly crouched, hunched, or tense, as if ready to pounce or pluck a delectable item. Maybe something we see or read makes us feel threatened so we recoil. While stepping away from the computer or redirecting the gaze to the horizon can help, I’ve found that nothing resets me more than following a recorded Feldenkrais eye movement lesson. They relax ocular muscles I’ve strained and engage those which I don’t normally use. It’s like sending my peepers to a playground where movement is divorced from utility, goals or achievement. My refreshed eyes help me experience deeper relaxation.
That my vision improved and my sense of self expanded through Feldenkrais is not unique, nor is my experience as miraculous as that of David Webber. After five operations to address complications from uveitis (an immune disorder causing inflammation within the eyes), he was declared legally blind in 2002. Desperate to regain his sight, he experimented with alternative remedies and found that Awareness Through Movement lessons helped him move safely and pleasurably. Immersion in a Feldenkrais training allowed him to discover that he could heal and rewire his visual system and restore his sight.
I’ve learned that life is more enjoyable and fulfilling when I’m aware of what my eyes are doing and I choose how to use them. Mr. Webber learned to see again. Who knows what you might discover if you take the time to roll your eyes, slowly and with awareness?
Have any of you had first hand experience with using the type of eye techniques/movements mentioned in this article? If so, would you please leave a comment with your feedback? Thanks!
And here’s an invitation from Dr. Mark Hyman about a free event that starts tomorrow that some of you may want to sign up for or tell others about……
I am very excited to bring to light a silent epidemic that is crippling our nation and is the # 1 cause of disability worldwide.
Did you know…
- Psychiatric disorders affect over 26% of our adult population and over 20% of our adolescent population.
- Over 40 million people suffer from anxiety and more than 20 million people have depression.
- 1-10 Americans takes an antidepressant, which has tripled in the past decade.
- Alzheimer’s will affect 30%, and some experts are saying up to 50% of people over the age of 85.
- 9% of our 8-15 year olds have been given the label, ADHD.
- In the last decade, autism has increased from 3 in 10,000 to 1 in 166.
These statistics are grim.
This topic is a very personal to me because I once suffered from a few brain disorders. Almost 20 years ago, when I was just at the start of my medical career, I went from being a healthy, thriving physician to becoming a disoriented and terrified version of myself that I did not recognize anymore. I had ADHD, depression, anxiety, and brain fog all at once. I truly descended into a spiral of helplessness and hopelessness.
This led me on a life-long quest to heal my broken brain and to find the root causes of these conditions through the approaches of Functional Medicine.
I spent this past year traveling the country interviewing the top brain health experts to bring you the most cutting edge research and information on topics such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety, MS, Parkinson’s, brain fog and more…
- The Broken Brain Epidemic / My Story (October 18)
- Gut Brain Connection: Getting to The Root of a Broken Brain (October 19)
- Losing Our Minds (Alzheimer’s, Dementia & MS) (October 20)
- ADHD & Autism (October 21)
- Depression & Anxiety (October 22)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (Accidents, Sports & More) (October 23)
- 7 Steps to An UltraMind (Part 1) (October 24)
- 7 Steps to An UltraMind (Part 2) (October 25)
Starting in early October, look for emails from me with sneak peeks of the docuseries including my top highlights from each episode and much more.
What if I told you that the cure for most brain disorders and a better brain is OUTSIDE the brain? You won’t want to miss this important docuseries. It’s time we address the epidemic of broken brains.
Please join us in our mission to make this world a healthier, happier place and share this documentary with all your loved ones and friends. Together, we can spread the word and take back our health.
See you on October 18th!
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on any future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.
Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.