Bates Method International

Techniques: Palming

All the methods used in the eradication of errors of refraction (improving vision) are simply different ways of obtaining relaxation...

This lesson is an introduction to the art of palming, as developed over a hundred years ago by Dr. Bates:

... most people, though by no means all, find it easiest to relax with their eyes shut. This usually lessens the strain to see, and in such cases is followed by a temporary or more lasting improvement in vision..... ..... But some light comes through the closed eyelids and a still greater degree of relaxation can be obtained in all but a few exceptional cases, by excluding it. This is done by covering the closed lids with the palms of the hands (the fingers being crossed upon the forehead) in such a way as to avoid pressure on the eyeballs. So efficacious is this practice, which I have called "palming", as a means of relieving strain, that we all instinctively respond to it at times, and from it most people are able to get a considerable degree of relaxation.

Spend some time each day Palming

To palm is to cover your closed eyes with your hands in such a way that there is no pressure on your eyeballs. The palms of your hands are slightly cupped over each eye (left over left and right over right), and usually the fingers are partly interlaced on your forehead. Close up of Bates student palming, using cushions to support her arms

There should be no light, or as little as possible, allowed to enter the eye. Once you are palming, open your eyes and look around to see if you can adjust your hands in such a way as to exclude as much light as possible. Close your eyes.


Note:

Palming is supposed to be relaxing, but you may end up being tight in your hands and arms in order to exclude light. Don't overdo it, and if necessary compromise. The next time you palm you may find a better position for the hands. Palming in a darkened room can be helpful.

Palming Positions

  • Palming with cushions showing full body posture. Note the torso is well supported, the feet calmly placed on the floor and the easy height for the hands to reach the eyes. Click to enlargeSitting in a dining-type chair in front of a table with a stack of cushions, (or foam pads) on it. The cushions are for resting your elbows: there should be enough cushions so that you are able to easily bring your palms to your eyes without stooping forward (too few cushions), or having to look up (too many cushions). Rest your elbows on the cushions and bring your hands to your eyes. Close your eyes, rest with the darkness, and don't forget to breathe!
  • Lying on your back, with a few books or pillow under your head, and your knees up and feet flat on the floor. Bring your hands to your eyes, and start palming. The disadvantage of this is that you have to hold your arms up, which can be difficult if you want to palm for a long period.

How long should I palm?

There is no fixed answer to this question. Some people enjoy palming as soon as they first try it, while a few people never find it enjoyable. As a result there is a different answer for each person, and it can vary from day to day for the same person - it would be counterproductive to force any strict rule: vision rebels against this.

For the first time, try setting your alarm clock to ring at the end of five or ten minutes. Palm, and after the alarm goes off ask yourself if the ringing alarm left you feeling relieved.... or annoyed! If you felt relieved, then palm for less time; you can benefit from palming for just fifteen breaths at a time. If you felt annoyed, then ..... throw the alarm out the window.

If you one day find yourself happy to continue, then do so: you can't do too much palming if you are feeling happy.

How often should I palm?

  • If you quite like palming then find at least one time in each day that you will be able to palm without disturbance. Make a mental note of any feelings you have ( e.g. happy, sad, confused, spaced out...) and also note what your other senses are receiving: listen, be, feel the support of the chair and floor, breathe.
  • During the day take regular short breaks and have mini-palms. You don't have to set yourself up in one of the "palming positions", just start palming as soon as you think of it. As you have a mini-palm, notice how your breath rises and falls. Count each breath cycle until you get to fifteen or so, and then stop.
  • This latter method can also be used if you find palming unenjoyable. Don't palm for long, but do palm often, up to as much as twenty times in one day.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you see nothing, or shapes, lights and colours?
  • How do you feel when you palm?
  • Do you feel relaxed after palming, or do you feel anxious? ...
  • There are so many things that you could notice - even not being able to palm is interesting and gives you valuable information for further work. The only rules are those you make up for yourself!

Start palming today, and do it every day for a week. If you like it, keep going and make it a regular part of your every day routine.

Copyright © 1997-2012 by Kevin Wooding | All Photographs © 15 Second Art Ltd