Continuing from last week, I’m sticking with the subject of the eyes. I just finished ‘Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers of Moshé Feldenkrais.’
Chapter 5, Man and the World, tells about Feldenkrais’ encounter with Van Foerster at an event, where Van Foerster told him about an interesting experiment.
It’s about an experiment that explored at how we see and how it affects our ability to move and find our way around. It shows how much our nervous system and movements are connected to how we see. Van Foerster told Moshé Feldenkrais about this experiment where a skiing instructor ‘wanted to find out what would happen if our brain saw the outside world as it is on the retina and not as it actually is.’
The image that reaches our retina is in reality upside down, because the lens of the eye – like any lense – inverts the image.
‘When seen, a standing person has his head at the bottom of the retina and his feet at the top. Mr. Köhler gave all the participants a pair of glasses inverting the image on the retina to be the right way up. As expected, he and all the others saw everything upside down.
The first hours were very difficult; nobody could move freely or do anything without going very slowly and trying to figure out and make sense of what they saw. Then something unexpected happened: Everything about their bodies and the immediate vicinity that they were touching began to look as before, but everything which could not be touched continued to be inverted.’
How and what we see seems to be influenced by our movements. What we touch, sense and feel affects our visual perception. This wonderful organism that we call a body influences how we see. And as the eyes are closely connected to the brain, how we see is connected to how we think.
If we change how we move, we change how we see and feel. It alters our experience of reality.
Have you ever thought about this?
I find it endlessly fascinating to learn about how we experience our reality and what we can do to move towards being more confident and well in ourselves and the world.
As always, I’m inviting you to experiment with this information and below you’ll find an embodied practice for it.
Moving your hands and wrists with softness and ease
This is a nice practice if you are using your hands in fixed ways throughout the day. This might be at the computer, or using the computer mouse. Or any other repetitive movement that doesn’t allow you to use your entire range of movement with the hands.
Why moving your hands when you want to affect the eyes?
One of the things I have observed in my 7 years of bodywork and body-based coaching is that when the eyes lock in a fixed pattern, usually the hands also get stuck in a fixed position. Being aware of this, you can regain softness in the eyes and seeing without strain, by doing something for your hands and wrists. Not sure it works? I also don’t know if it works for you. So, give it a try and see for yourself.
You can watch the video and see.
On Sunday, during my break, I was sitting outside the Teaching Rooms enjoying the fresh Irish air. And to maintain my lightness in touch and precision for the upcoming afternoon session, I used a minute to bring all my attention to my hands and move them with the quality that I wanted for my sessions.
- Pick a song that you like.(One that carries the quality you’d like to bring to your movement.)
My choice of the day was Pumped up kicks by Foster the People.
- Start the music and tune in to the rhythm.
- Use the beat of the music to make conscious stops. Soft stops.
- And then start a new, fresh movement in tune with the music.
The music is your anchor in the present moment – paying attention to it and moving with it helps you move out of your routine hand movements.
- Try to find new movements, ones that you aren’t used to making.
You might notice that you are used to only using the thumb and indexfingers and that the others feel less present or a bit neglected. If you do, you can focus on them for a few moments or let the entire movement of the hand be initiated by the ring or pinkie finger.
- Move with ease. Also in the joints.
- Continue for 1-3 minutes.
- When you stop, relax the hands and arms fully. Close your eyes. Feel your hands and wrists.
Do you feel different from before? How do your eyes feel now?
Slowly open your eyes again and check how you see.
I hope you and your eyes enjoyed this!
PS: If you want a treat for your eyes, I’ve come up with something that combines embodied eye practices with sessions.