My Experience of the Bates Method
by Charles Thompson
I began wearing glasses more or less permanently when I was about sixteen. I disliked them intensely and wore them grudgingly. I was very unhappy at school, I felt alienated from my friends, family and teachers. I saw the whole world as hostile towards me.
I left school having underachieved in everyone's eyes. The feeling of alienation and fear increased with progressive years of jobs and training schemes that came and went without success.
I always felt miserable behind glasses and even contact lenses. My dependency on them made me feel inadequate.
I had heard of eyesight improvement methods and eventually found books about the 'Bates Method'. I went along for some lessons, but made little real progress at first. Only after stopping and coming back to it a year later did things begin to happen.
There is a line in Better Eyesight Without Glasses by W. H. Bates which reads as follows:The origin of any error of refraction, of a squint, or of any other functional disturbance of the eye, is simply a thought - a wrong thought - and its disappearance is as quick as the thought that relaxes.
This sentence stayed in my mind and later I experimented with 'letting go' of any attempt to control my eyes of thoughts. I became aware of the slightest sounds around me and to my amazement I could see almost perfectly.
I felt as if I had stepped into the world in an accepting, emotional, and fluid sort of way, instead of a rather black and white, or right and wrong way of thinking.
The eyes themselves stung and became very watery.
I had at last realised that the Bates Method was not a 'doing', but and 'undoing'.
My Bates Teacher gradually guided me through successive weeks of awareness games and techniques, but progress came from my own willingness to explore new ways of thinking and being.
Awareness and acceptance brought about big emotional swings; I felt I was standing back from myself and observing my feelings and emotions without interfering with their natural course. I was amazed how fears and anxieties I had locked away, surfaced and eventually faded away. I felt like a boat rising and falling on the sea, allowing each wave to come and go without any attempt to alter position or course, or fight against them in any way.
I began to realise that seeing involved the whole being, and that poor vision was only a by-product of a mind out of focus, a mind discontent with the 'here and now'. I became aware how the mind's blur can manifest itself through many other channels apart from eyesight.
About this time I became interested in meditation. During palming I experienced a wonderful floating sensation so often I felt fused with everything, and awareness of simply existing.
This awareness triggered and avalanche of questions and insights, many of which I took to heart (rightly or wrongly, and later seemed to forget). I was certain of a track of least resistance through life, I was sure that both past and future exist simultaneously, and the 'Donut' theory of the universe supports this notion. I was convinced that we merely discover that which already exists.
Believing this helped me to relax and move away from the constant habit to 'construct' my life and thus create stress and anxiety, and ultimately failure in doing so. This brought about a wonderful release that lifted my very consciousness. Living became far more easy and efficient, I found I could focus my mind and make better decisions and carry them out far more effectively.
I noticed I was far more aware of what was going on around me, I seemed better 'connected' to the world in every aspect. Similar experiences are echoed in most forms of meditation, yoga, and religions etc.
Becoming aware of strain (including, in my case, 'using' the Bates Method) seemed to be the most essential ingredient. As a few more weeks passed I started to notice considerable aching around my eyes, accompanied by tremors and mild headaches. When a 'clear flash' occurred my eyes watered and itched profusely which brought huge leaps in visual clarity.
If I asked myself the question 'what would it be like if I wasn't straining' or 'what would it be like if I never thought to question or analyse my vision - simply to accept it unconditionally, my eyesight improves.
Normal eyesight isn't exciting, it's just normal and only when I let my vision work without interference or judgement do I experience normal sight.
This shows how the mind/body can self regulate if we can learn to allow it.