How our brains and eyes come together to help us move

It’s around 8am and I just standing on my yoga mat and looking at the world. I do this everything morning if I can manage it. I’m not staring or fixing my gaze on one spot, I’m steadily deliberately moving my gaze around the environment, so I don’t miss anything.

It’s easy to miss something by jumping from one object to another so, I’m keeping the movement smooth.

It’s also easy to have a rigid gaze where the environment is there but I’m missing in action. So; I keep remembering that seeing is an action that happens in my brain and if I’m able to place some awareness in my brain, then I’ll be involved in that act of seeing.

After a bit I start moving so that I’m still moving my gaze but now my whole body is involved in supporting me as a I change my orientation to the environment. On a good day, this is how I do my morning sun salutation. It’s everything being there as a whole thing. And there’s a sequence that comes from my intentions that flows through to my brain, my eyes, my head and then my whole body.

In Yoga, this is called Drishti, which translates as gaze. This way of working was first introduced to me not by a yogi, but by the inventor of the Eyebody Method, Peter Grunwald.

Quite often, the way that we move when we’re whole is deeply buried within our intuition and we have no way of languaging it. It just is. That makes sense when we consider that we learn to very early in our lives and mostly through a simple intention to explore our environment. We try lots of different things; at some point it works and we’re crawling, rolling and finally walking and running.

Here’s a suggestion. Simply intend to include your brain and eyes in the way that your head moves and your body follows. Don’t change anything. Be kind, be generous to yourself, you’re just exploring something new. If you find yourself being too literal about what leads and what follows, think of it as brain and eyes being included your head mediating or influencing your movement.

The point is not to spin up into a critical, judgemental, perfect thing where you’ll never succeed; but to acknowledge that you already know how to see and how to move. Checking things out like this allows you to figure out what you’d like to change.

It’s easy to run into problems by trying to do something right, to end up imposing a fixed idea of movement that doesn’t go with that deeply intuitive way of moving.

The only true freedom we have is where to place our focus and our gaze is the physical embodiment of that focus. Making the decision to consciously transition your gaze without jumping while you’re moving is an act of courage . It’s an act against the habits of a lifetime of a restless gaze that jumps from this thing to that thing without ever discovering what lies within.

I’ll be exploring this and other things when I do my workshop on Yoga and the Alexander Technique on Saturday 24th February 2018. There’s still some spaces left.

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© Kevin Saunders, Yogaground 2018

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