Archive for the ‘Eyebody’ Category

How do you get out of pain caused by computers?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Computers are often a cause of pain and we can get confused about the real source of that pain. This is about what happened to me on retreat recently where I looking into the cause of my own pain. More on the computers later.

I was on an Eyebody retreat recently and woke up with some pain in my lower back. This is unusual for me and although I was tempted to ignore it, I had a feeling that it was trying to tell me something. Alexander Teacher Jeremy Chance often says that pain is what is right about you, not what is wrong.

I decided to investigate.

I asked myself the questions that I normally ask all my students. Better during the day or during the night? Definitely better during the day. Just asking questions started to get me out of injury panic mode. Injury panic mode is where I start to believe that I have something permanently wrong with me and my future fills with fearful thoughts of pain.

After a bit, I realised it was my bed. I was away from home in an unfamiliar bed. F*ing bedding fell off every night. I was tensing to keep it on.

Better but not quite there.

I started reflecting on something the workshop leader, Peter Grunwald had said: “This is a seeing workshop, not a feeling workshop”. I realised that I had been taking this literally and had been suppressing, ignoring and denying my feelings.

And in so doing, I had cut off one of my most vital resources. My ability to sense the small micro self correcting movements which informs and supports most of my alignment work. My body was simply reminding me that I had forgotten. I was putting a twist into my lower back that isn’t part of the design of our lower spine.

Once I had brought these small movements back, in a couple of hours the pain was gone and in fact my lower back felt better than it had for a while.

When I reflected more on this, I realised that he didn’t ask anyone to suppress their feelings. Quite the opposite, he asked that they let their feelings come up without attaching any particular meaning to them. All too often, at the first sign of any unfamiliar sensation, students grab at that feeling and start trying to do something in their bodies to control it.

I figured out that I need to include the qualities of permission and allowing in my learning. Rather than getting caught up in over literal interpretations of other people’s ideas, maps and methods.

There is a common fear among yoga students going to a workshop that they will somehow be persuaded to do something that injures them. If injuries happen, sometimes the root cause of them is a student disconnecting from their own wisdom and inner resources.

This is why I take some care to set up a teaching environment that is about creating exploration from a place of curiosity.

It’s about developing and prioritising the student’s felt sense of what is going on. I’ve found from experience every student needs a way of creating this exploration for themselves. Many need a lot of structure. Some need more permission and allowing. It all depends on what I’m attempting to teach, where I’m at and where my students are at.

In 2015 I went to assist on a teacher training retreat lead by Donna Farhi. I realised that I had some interesting stuff to say about things that most yoga people over look. The connection between their heads and their spines. How to integrate a piece of learning. How to talk about co-ordination.

I also realised that I needed to do more work on the connection between feet, ankles and ground. My Alexander Technique training had given me a bias of working on my upper body. I set myself the task of having something useful and interesting to say about every major joint in the body.

That’s a long journey but I’m getting there.

In the process, all sorts of interesting connections are emerging from my head to the rest of my body.

I’ve long known that it’s often not the stuff that we do on the mat that solves all our physical aches and pains. It’s developing an awareness that you can carry into your everyday life. That’s why I’ve always included a section in my workshops that all my students to work on situations that cause them tension.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be taking that one step further and holding a workshop on a major cause of tension in most people’s lives: how we all work on computers, smart phones and other devices.

I’ve already given this workshop to a group of Alexander teachers.

You can download all sorts of advice about working with computers and smart phones. Taking breaks. Adjusting the ergonomics of your chair or work station. Doing some stretches that get your body moving. But these are all short term and often superficial fixes.

The course I lead focusses on what’s really important when you work on a computer. Your relationship to your body and to your environment.

It doesn’t fix your shoulders, it works on teaching principles that will allow you to fix those shoulders long term. It gives you skills to include your body in whatever you do in life.

I have a rare skill set for this. I’ve used computers professionally for over 25 years, even built my own PCs and I’m an Alexander / Yoga teacher. I won’t be offering this course again at this price and for this small size group. Take advantage while you can.

Computers/Smartphone, Alexander Technique and Yoga, London, Saturday 9th June 2018, 10am to 1pm. Cost is £28.

Click here for more information.

How our brains and eyes come together to help us move

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

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.

My experience of studying brains/vision with Eyebody

Friday, October 13th, 2017

I’ve been studying the Eyebody method for 5 years, going to an annual retreat and taking private sessions a couple of times a year.

The Eyebody method is for those who want to see without glasses or at least that’s what most people who go say they want. Actually, the Eyebody method has evolved from seeing without glasses into a fully-fledged spiritual/religious philosophy and practice. It still has the pragmatic side of needing glasses less and generally improving your vision and co-ordination.

It’s been really good for me, I stopped wearing glasses a while ago and haven’t bothered to even get too worried about not wearing them. I probably should see an optician at some point since my last appointment was 6 years ago, but again, somehow I’m not bothered.

Do I have perfect 20:20 vision after 5 years study with all that time and money? No, I don’t. I have natural eyesight which I’ve come to realise means the same as just having a body. There are days when I’m really fit and active and then there are days when I’m not. Same with my sight.

But I’ve had some experiences that I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t study.

On a recent retreat, I was working in a group of people. I was really paying attention to my intentions, allowing my visual self to be completely centred. And suddenly it was like I was in a Vermeer or Rembrandt painting, all the faces of everyone around me were lit within and I was touched by their essential goodness. It’s like the light itself was breathing.

I had a great experience on the London tube going to a workshop. I was on the District/Circle line from Notting Hill Gate when I noticed the vertical hold bars. They were bright yellow. That yellow seemed to suffuse the whole carriage. I got a little colour stoned. Whoa, so much yellow, so amazing. It was just really pleasant. It wasn’t this great enlightenment experience, it was just really OK.

The one thing I learned that I didn’t know before hand? Just how much creative effort we need to put into the act of seeing if we truly want to improve our vision. Then the fine mesh in our brains becomes denser, springier, easier, more responsive. Then we begin to see clearer because we have more neurons on the job.

The downside?
Dealing with visual reactions means dealing with much faster reactions and a much more powerful and subtle energy. That was hard to get at first, my brain just wasn’t there. It’s taken work to get in touch with these faster rhythms.
Natural vision teachers are few and far between. It takes real commitment to see progress.
I’ve not found the religious/spiritual aspect of the work particularly useful.

But the more I’ve gone into it (this was my 5th time in Wales), the more I get out of it.

It has influenced my teaching and my life in a very positive way.

Workshop on vision, brain and movement

Friday, September 15th, 2017

I did a 3 hour workshop in September 2017 on brains, vision and movement. I wanted to see if there was a way of combining 3 disciplines that I’ve studied for a while, Yoga, The Alexander Technique and Eyebody. It was the first time I had brought some ideas about how our brain works into a workshop.

We spent an hour playing around with noticing the difference between what the way that our bodies actually worked as opposed to how we had grown up thinking that they worked. This is the Alexander technique concept of body mapping. I did a whistle stop tour head/tail and then legs and arms.

We figured out where the top of our head was, the bottom (hint: it isn’t the bottom of the jaw). Then we did head / body games to figure out how our heads actually rested on the top of our spine.

Then we figured out where our brain was. Everyone closed their eyes and pointed to their brain. Differed a lot, some people pointed to their forehead. Others to the back or middle of head. As a teacher, that for me was one of the interesting learning points, that we all have very different ideas about what our brain is.

It made me realise that for me now, my brain is inside my whole head and it has a long tail of nervous system running down my spine with nerves branching out to every part of my body.

We did another hour, this time with a simple sun salutation from Yoga. We were exploring what it was like to embody the Eyebody principle of vision leads, brain, eye and body follows.

The last part of the class was on activities that everyone brought to the class.

Two people in the class wanted to work on a computer. The common theme for both people was how they interfered with their arm structure. What I noticed as was, the act of focussing on the screen ended up with both people tightening their shoulders because they had disconnected to the arm support from below. I needed to remind them that the bottom most muscle of their arms actually goes into their tail, that most of the superficial muscle layer of the back of our bodies is arm. Once I had brought this back into their body through guided touch, they were both able to notice a difference.

One chap was a motor cycle courier and wanted to work with this. We worked a lot with being alert and yet relaxed. I helped him with some guided touch around neck and shoulders and that helped him find some space within his shoulders and arms.

Then somebody wanted to work on a the cobra pose in Yoga. Like many people who try this pose, I noticed that the moment that weight was put on the hands, she tightened up. I suggested finding more support from below by lengthening out legs.

I asked people what was useful about the workshop. People found things like left / right eye connection, the body mapping and the linking of vision to movement useful.

Yoga and Alexander technique: The one thing you need for a healthy brain

Friday, September 1st, 2017

I’m walking from the South Bank to Waterloo station in London and it’s a really busy place. Lots and lots of people. I’m minding my own business and enjoying a lunch time walk when something looks odd. It’s as though all the people who are in my field of vision were actors in a film I was directing, and they’re all a bit hostile towards me.

I’ve just had a rare insight into how my brain and my visual system come together to create my current reality. My internal director is having to work really hard to project this vision of a hostile crowd on to the people who are around me.

I let go, I’m just in the middle of a crowd of people. My whole reality changes and all I can see is the people as they are, not as I imagine them to be. I feel a whole lot better and my eyesight improves as well.

Caroline Williams, a New Scientist journalist, in her book “Override: my quest to go beyond brain training and take control of my mind” lists three things to help your brain health. They’re surprisingly mundane. Diet, exercise and meditation.

It’s a bit surprising because diet and exercise don’t seem to be much about brains, but it turns out our brains are hugely influenced by our gut bacteria and much of our brain is about movement.

We all know that diet and exercise is good for us so I’m skipping those in this article. I will come back to these topics because many people are exercise averse and struggle to control their diet.

What about all those clever mind exercises that are supposed to stop Alzheimer’s in it’s tracks? Well, 50% of neuro scientists think they’re a load of rubbish.

In one study around of 11,000 people, found that brain puzzles and games do nothing to make you smarter in general. They do make you a bit better at the game you have been practising, but even then the effects don’t last very long. (Owen AM et al., (2010) ‘Putting Brain Training to the Test’, Nature, vol. 465, pp. 775– 78.)

There again, 50% think they are either harmless or quite effective. So, right now, take your pick.

Back to my internal movie director experience. My biggest insight that day is that it was my brain’s orientation to the world that was off. That orientation was a mixture of physical alignment of my body, mental focus, my intentions for living and what was in my field of vision.

And that for me is the one thing that I really need to have a healthy brain.

It’s that aspect of brain work that I’m focussing on in my workshop on the brain next week.

Our brains really like to be connected to the world, interacting with the world through our senses and our ideas about reality.

It’s our intention for presence, to be fully here and not somewhere in the past or future that makes a difference to our brain. This mental intention for presence wakes us up.

Once we have this, then we go to specific techniques that will allow us to realise this intention.

Alexander work, with it’s very nuanced ideas of the head and spine relationship means that our brain is in a good physical relationship with the world. I’ve been experimenting with this further by wondering which how this affects my brain inside my head. In particular, the thalamus and optic nerve area. I’ve found that my head can be in good relationship to my spine (forward and up in Alexander jargon) and my brain can still be slumped. I’ve been exploring the ideas of Eyebody to bring some awareness to this area. A lot of visual information goes through that middle of our brain and some of it ends up getting stuck in our memories.

What takes us out of this easy orientation to our environment? It’s our brain in survival mode. When we go into survival mode and the situation doesn’t warrant it (that is we are not about to be killed) we start believing things that aren’t real. We pay too much attention to things that don’t really matter.

It seems horribly simple to say, yet this is the thing that really has made all the difference to me: the intention for presence, to be here and now both inside my body and fully in the environment. That leads to a small change in the physical orientation of my brain, my eyes, my head and then the rest of my body follows.

My workshop on yoga and the brain next week is full but I’ll be running it again soon. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll drop you a note when I next put it on.

Yoga, Alexander technique and working with brains and movement

Friday, August 18th, 2017

The woman in front of me was holding a book and trying to read without her glasses. Here’s the interesting thing: she said that she couldn’t see the words as she was reading, they were too blurry. Yet, with some teaching, she was able to read reasonably fluently.

I was at a week in (not so) sunny Wales at the 2017 Eyebody retreat and the woman was being taught by the workshop leader Peter Grunwald.

What was up with this? Well, it turns out that what we think of vision, that is our ability to see clearly is only a small part of our total visual system. Light passes into our eyes; part goes to our visual cortex at the back of our brain and part goes to the upper part of our neo cortex at top and back of our brain.

It’s the light that goes to the upper part of our neo cortex that turns out to be very interesting from a movement, brain function, seeing and general well-being perspective. Because this is the bit that most of us totally cut off when we wear glasses.

So, the next time you reach for your specs or contacts, spare a thought for this orphaned part of your brain. You might have so much spare capacity up there that cutting off a bit might not be a problem for you. Me, I like to have 100% of my visual brain in use.

That bit of the neo cortex is actually quite important for overall movement co-ordination.

When I first included the neo cortex in my yoga practice, I was quite surprised at how much further I was able to go in my poses and still be comfortable. It takes practice of course and there’s been some ups and downs along the way. It’s also helped me find some extra sensitivity with hands on work.

I’m teaching a workshop in September 2017 on exploring how we can use our brains better in our life and in our movement in particular. The early bird discount expires on 22nd August, so why not come along?

Yoga, Alexander Technique, Eyebody and our brains, part 2

Friday, August 12th, 2016

Pushed for time? Check out the video below. If you prefer to read, scroll past the video and read on.

In the last article, I looked some of our assumptions about where our brains are and what cultural assumptions we might be buying into when we start an inquiry into how our brains function.

In this article, I look at two ways of using somatic enquiry that allows us to get our brains working a little easier. I have a lot of practices which are around helping my brain function a little easier, but these are the two that I can really recommend as they are a little more accessible than other practices.

The first is to do with the relationship between our head and our body. We can’t see directly what’s happening in our brains, we can only guess and infer by what’s happening in our bodies and in our relationship with the world. Take a look at this famous sculpture. He’s doing something, but it’s interesting that Rodin put his sculpture in this pose to indicate thought. What might be happening in his brain? Is he happy? Is he tense?

the_thinker_rodin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about Michelangelo’s David? Is his brain happy? These can seem like odd questions, yet how can we start to figure out what is happening in another person’s brain until we allow ourselves to ask the question ‘is their brain happy?’ and look at them.

Michelangelo-DavidWhen I look at Michelangelo’s David, I see a certain relationship between his head and the rest of his body. His head looks like it has support from the front of his body as well as the back and sides.His head is tilted slightly forward on the top of his spine. To me, that gives him poise.

With Rodin’s thinker, he may be thinking but he looks tense to me. I’m picking up on his head being slightly retracted on top of his spine giving him the impression of someone who is bracing against something. Perhaps the full title of this sculpture gives us the clue ‘Thinker at the gates of hell’.

For me, brains need to be supported fully by the body they live in. After all, there hasn’t been a thought expressed in the world without a body that goes along with it. That support needs to be from all the different parts of our body, from our contact with the earth and from all the different types of support within our body.

For an idea of how that support might look, see this video of Bruce Fertman, Alexander Teacher in action showing students how to access this head / body relationship

When I look at this video, I’m always struck by how dynamic the relationship between our heads and our bodies are, and just how a small and delicate touch can begin to restore it. It’s both simple and complex. Simple because it’s one movement of our heads and complex because it profoundly changes the rest of our body and how we are in the world. Our bodies begin to fill from the inside.

It’s both a relationship and a subtle internal movement at the same time. Can you find this movement in your own head? It’s a movement of your head in space relative to your body, backwards, upwards and over. Can you allow yourself to be delicate and yet clear in this movement? Can you be emotionally available with acceptance and compassion for all the hidden hurts and slights, often going back a long way in time, that lead you to go into survival mode and fix your neck or other part of your body?

The other practice that I do is about my brain’s orientation to the world. I’ve found that brains like to be in contact with the world in a way that make sense to them. Peter Grunwald, a natural vision teacher, gives 3 states our brains can be in relationship to the world. They are underfocus (mind wandering in a stressful way), overfocus (mind clear but unable to relax) and presence (mind with a quality of relaxed alertness). These states are quite similar to the Body Mind Centring  (Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen) ideas of collapse / prop and yield in their effects on the body but explicitly include states of mind.

brain-states

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, how do we get to our brains being present and with us well oriented to the world? Well, there’s a very simple investigation that Peter Grunwald does called the line movement. This is about orienting our brains to our environment using the light going into our visual systems. We see with our brains, not our eyes. Our eyes are just there to receive and focus the light waves. It’s our brains that interpret and process the light coming in.

eyebody line movement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The line movement is simply finding a line in the environment and then bringing your awareness to the upper part of your neo cortex (it’s where you would have your hair spiral or top knot). Then with the intention of presence – so that you start releasing chronic states of under / over focussing – you look either from the close distance to the middle distance, to the far distance and back again without jumping.

I’ve done this investigation for the last 5 years and it’s been a really interesting practice. What I noticed when I first started doing this was that I really bored by it. I wanted something flashier, more complex. Then I noticed that my eyes and my visual system were in such a chronic state of tension that I could only do the line movement once because it was so uncomfortable. Then I noticed that my eyes just couldn’t stop jumping around. I would either be staring really hard at something or barely registered that the object was even there.

Now, when I do the line movement, it has a really meditative feel. Even better, I do the line movement when I am doing a sun salutation and that really seems to bring a quality of lightness to my movements. For example, I place my attention in the upper part of my back brain with an intention of presence. Then I look into the far distance and as I bring my gaze into the middle distance, I move into forward bend. In this way my whole body is supporting the movement of my brain and my eyes. I can continue the movement into the close distance and then when I’m fully in the pose I can do the line movement the other way and upside down. Check out the video at the top for how it looks in practice

 

Brain integration in Alexander technique and yoga

Friday, July 29th, 2016

brain_and_yogaThis is the first of a 2 part article on integrating our brain into our yoga or somatic practice. Our brains are an area of interest for many yogis. We either have injury or other problems in that area or some of our students do.

Then there is general increase in interest in neuro-science and the attempts to explain the recent advances for a general audience.

You might believe with all the recent publicity for neuro-science that scientists now have a good understanding about how the brain works as a unified whole but that’s not the case.

Larry W Swanson in his book ‘Brain Architecture’ points out

“..but ask 10 of the world’s leading neuroscientists how the brain work – how it think, feels, perceives, and acts as a unified whole – and you will get 10 very different answers”

So, when I do any investigation of this area in my yoga practice I want to be somewhat cautious, it’s not something I want to mess up and there’s a lot of difference opinions out there about how it works.

Where is the brain in our body?

Like a lot of things in our body, we tend to mis-map where it is. Take a look at what most people believe to be their head. Most of us think that the top of our head stops around the top of our eyes.

Brain map (2)

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, if we draw a line between our eyes and the back of our head, there’s quite a bit on top. And most of that bit on top is our brain.

brain is above the eyes

So why is this? Well brains don’t have the same degree of nerve endings that other parts of our body have. Our hands have a lot of nerves and we can map where our fingers end from having contact with a surface or just by the feeling in our finger-tips.

 

 

If you know that there’s a bit more above your normal idea of where your head ends, how does that change your awareness of how you move? When you take your brain for a walk, how does it feel to have more on top?

What cultural assumptions are we buying into when we think about brains?

Of all the parts of our bodies, our brains seem to be the most loaded with all sorts of cultural assumptions, beliefs and downright strange ideas.

The first is that our brain is an inert grey mass sitting inside our skulls. Take a look at this photo which most of us probably think of as our brain.

 

It’s an image of a brain taken out of the person after that person was dead and it’s not something that we can see moving at all.

 

 

 

 

What about this image? Does that change the way that you think about this part of you?

 

Your brain has synapses which are functional contract between nerve cells that may change their strength based on experience. You have about 100,000,000,000,000 in your head. How does that change the way you are in the world?

 

 

 

Now take a look at this image and notice the associations it brings up for you.

ceo_image_business

If this man was a CEO, would you describe him as the guts of his organisation?

Perhaps the heart of his organisation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not really, in the English speaking world we would usually call him the head of the organisation. And once we had done that, we would have immediately bought into cultural assumptions that brains are command and control centres, more important than the rest of our body and probably that they are male or represent a more male energy than other parts of our body.

Another cultural assumption that often crops up is that our brains are not only the seat of our identity but that they can live independently of the body they were born into. For $80,000 you can get your brain cryogenically frozen so that some time in the future it can be transplanted into another body. This is the ultimate ‘living in your head’. If you’ve even done just a little of yoga or Alexander work or any other somatic work you’ll know that living in your head is never a story that ends well.

In my next article on the brain, I look into how we can work with this area of our body in yoga, the Alexander technique and other somatic meditation practices.

Eyes, your vision and your body, The Eyebody Method

Monday, October 8th, 2012

I recently went to a retreat in Wales which looked at the connection between our eyes, our visual system and rest of our body. The Eyebody retreat was lead by Peter Grunwald, a teacher who has spent the last 20 years exploring the connection between the eyes and the rest of the body. Originally, he was motivated to start this work by poor vision. He was determined to stop wearing glasses and use natural means to cure his short sightedness. Now, he leads workshops around the world in his eyebody technique, a series of methods and approaches which help restore our visual system to it’s natural state.

I was a little cautious going in to the retreat, I have come across teachers in the yoga world who have a very high reputation and seem to promise a great deal but rush through a series of ideas they get from other teachers. I soon realised that wasn’t the case with Peter, he is that rare beast in the somatic world, an innovator.

Because he was an Alexander teacher before becoming a full time workshop leader, I expected that his technique would bear some similarity to some of the Alexander principles. There are some cross overs, in the Alexander work the key principle is allowing an integrated release in your head, neck and back to precede free movement. In the eyebody work, it is establishing a release through your lower brain to your upper brain (the upper part of your neo cortex, at the place where you would have a top knot at the back of your head ) that provides the foundation for both an integrated way of seeing and moving. Both are based on patterns and principles underlying human development rather than a series of movements or postures.

This makes both the Alexander work and the eyebody work more flexible but also more difficult to understand and teach.

The eyebody work differs significantly from the Alexander work by the use of intentions and vision types.

The vision types are: over contracted, over expanded and mixed. The types refer to habitual areas of clarity and avoidance. An over contracted type is comfortable seeing in the close distance but has difficulty seeing in the far distance. A mixed type will have one eye that switches on to see in the far distance and the other eye for close up. This means that the middle ground will be a place of confusion for the mixed type. Each type has wider associations than vision habits, it also refers to both posture and communication habits.

Intentions are wishes  with commitment, soul qualities which move you away from just needs for survival. Each part of the eye has a separate intention, for example the layers in the front of your eye are explored with the intent for trust and safety. These explorations are started with a commitment for presence as opposed to under focussing or over focussing. Under focussing or over focussing are habitual states whereas presence is more of the relaxed alert state which comes from contemplative or meditative work.

This commitment to presence in your whole body and the environment around you, with a focus on your upper visual cortex, seems to be the essence of the work.

Every day we did some exploration of the people types. It was fascinating to see what I had in common with people who had a similar vision type to me and what the difference was between the types. These vision types went much further than just the normal short sighted / long sighted classifications. We also did some unusual explorations of the anatomy of the eye. Interestingly, Peter never used a diagram or a power point to describe the anatomy of the eye. He said that he used to do this but he was not happy with the outcome as people failed to understand the experience of being in the different parts of the eye.

The venue and the people were both great, I really enjoyed both the company the surroundings. The food was ‘delicious vegetarian’, a phrase that normally strikes dread in me, but in this case it really was delicious and with lots of variety.

It’s taken me many years of patient work to get the principles of the Alexander work and it’s probably going to be the same for the eyebody work. A couple of times I got a really unusual feeling of being completely present and co-ordinated but it soon disappeared. My vision did improve quite a bit through the course, I recovered a lot of peripheral vision which I hadn’t even noticed that I had lost. I could see better in the dark too, again another ability that had slipped away without me noticing it. My ability to see clearly improved though it is still blurry without glasses. And I was able to see fine in bright sunlight without needing dark glasses.

All in all, I had a good time at the course and can recommend it for anyone who wants to explore an unusual and innovative way of making the connections between your visual system and your body as a whole.

Check out http://eyebody.com/ for information about the retreats. Information about the venue is at http://www.bucklandhall.co.uk/