Bates Method International

Techniques: The Prayer Swing

The Prayer Swing is really a form of Head Swing, the main difference being that it is done with the eyes closed. Here's how to do it:

The Prayer Swing

Position: Sitting at a desk with your elbows resting on some cushions - ideally a position suitable for Sunning and Palming first.

After you finish Palming keep your eyes closed and bring your hands out in front of you. You can clasp them together as if you were to pray, but the purpose is simply to allow your hands easy support of each other, putting them about six to ten centimetres in front of your face.

Eyes Closed

With your eyes gently shut, register the presence of your hands.

Eyes shut, then register the presence of your hands

Wait a few moments then breathing gently and without hurry, slowly turn your head continuously a few centimetres to the right and then the left.

You may notice that your eyes start to dance - trying to either look ahead of your movement (further to the left or further to the right) or to stick and drag back to where your hands are; the aim is to give your eyes the time to calm down and what this usually means is to go a little slower.

The principles of the movement are exactly the same as with the Long Swing and Head Swing - keeping the eyes resting calmly in alignment with your head. Thinking of a nose pencil, third eye, or distant moving object are all supportive methods to enable the eyes to be calm (see Head Swing).

Prayer swing showing hands to the right of the eyes - from the student's point of view.

Prayer Swing showing hands to the right of the eyes - from the student's point of view. While it is the head that moves, the relative position of the hands has changed.


Prayer swing showing hands to the left of the eyes - from the student's point of view.

Prayer Swing showing hands to the left of the eyes - from the student's point of view.

View a complete sequence


 

When you feel your eyes are calm, gently allow the awareness of your hands to grow - so that you can experience an easy apparent oppositional movement of the hands.

Let things move

As the movement you experience is in the imagination and the eyes are not affected by visual edges, it become possible to expand the movement of the Prayer Swing very easily. Logically, your hands are attached to your wrists and forearms, leading to the cushion under your elbows, your lap or the desk you're resting on - each of these items also can be experienced as moving. Let your awareness expand step by step; if you suddenly find the movement locking down, come back to a more basic movement.

With a little practise it is possible to get your whole room moving, the building you're in, the surrounding country, the world, and even the stars above. With a little more practise it's even possible to know that your head is still, and everything really is actually moving.

Photographs © 15 Second Art Ltd