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Why Strain to See?

By Kathy Yates

I had been seeing Elizabeth for about a year. She had had a history of eye maladies—iritis (inflammation), cataract, and astigmatism. After getting a second opinion on her cataract, she opted for surgery. She was feeling very anxious about the surgery and this only added to the strain that she was already feeling in her neck, jaw, shoulders, and eyes.

One of the most valuable sessions for Elizabeth was just after her surgery. At this point she was still very stressed (now, about the outcome of her surgery). We began by working with her shoulders, ribs, spine and pelvis to help her feel herself lying more comfortably and to enable her to breathe more fully, thus reducing some of the stress. Once she was feeling more settled we began to review some of the eye work we had done previous to her surgery.

We proceeded with some convergence/divergence or moving from tight focus to a wide-angle gaze. An example which always comes to mind is from the film “Once Upon a Time in the West,” where director Sergio Leone closed in on the cheek of one cowboy’s face to show a fly sitting near his eye (convergence) then zoomed out to reveal the cowboy in his long duster standing on the platform of the train station in a deserted Midwest town (divergence).

Our eyes, when healthy, are like a very sophisticated camera refocusing instantaneously in response to our intentions. Elizabeth was also dealing with an astigmatism (a blind spot that moved around) and she had been straining to see around it. When straining to see, we can become “stuck” in a tight focus type of gaze. This can be very tiring and the strain can spread to other parts of ourselves. By becoming aware of how she was using her eyes she could choose how she wanted to use them, rather than being stuck in a habitual way of seeing that would cause more strain and fatigue.

Once Elizabeth felt her eyes settling back in her head, she also felt the tightness in her neck, jaw and shoulders decrease. This was a great relief to her and she continued this practice, as well as a few other movements, on her own while she was recuperating. Looking back, Elizabeth felt our work together helped speed her recovery because her stress and strain was greatly reduced.

She was thrilled with the discovery that changing how she used her eyes could reduce the strain not only in her eyes, but could also have a profound effect in her neck, jaw and shoulders. She was now free to go through her daily tasks without becoming fatigued by the strain.

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