Originally appeared in
Earth Star Magazine October/November 2007
By Rosemary Gaddum Gordon, D.B.O., M.A.
When our vision deteriorates, one of the first things we notice is that our speed of focus becomes sluggish. We may have been driving for a while and when we need to check the map it takes a few blinks to see it clearly. The same sluggishness can occur when we want to see something down the street after we’ve been reading for long periods. If we don’t do something to help our eyes, it can take longer and longer to read those little words until the point when it takes too long and we get a pair of glasses. This sluggishness occurs because the muscles that focus the eyes have become tired and stiff.
Tired muscles need rest and stiff ones need flexibility. We must start with the resting. If you’ve been reading this column for a while you know several techniques for relaxing and resting the eyes. Besides palming, which we discussed in the last issue, there is sunning, where you close the eyes and turn the head so that the sunlight passes over your eyelids. If you focus on how good the warmth and light feel as they travel across your face, you will rest your eyes deeply and quickly. A good night’s sleep is another effective way to rest the eyes. There is also prevention: rest your eyes regularly and keep changing the distance of your focus frequently all day long.
Once your eyes are well rested, a great technique for helping them to be flexible is Tromboning. This helps speed up both far and near focus. It is important that you stay as grounded and at your core as possible when you Trombone. Attend to how you and your eyes are feeling. It’s easy to overdo this, so start slowly. Cover one eye. (If you have one that is weaker than the other, cover that one first.) Hold a postcard or photo in one hand and sit where you can see out of a window or at something twenty feet or more away. Imagine you have an invisible pencil on the end of your nose and move your head so the pencil outlines whatever you are looking at outside the window. This helps your eyes to relax and focus. Now, hold the card at arms length and “nose-pencil” the images on the card as you bring it in towards your nose. Relax and pencil around what you can see, even if it becomes mere blobs of color as it reaches your nose. Don’t “try” to focus but be interested in what’s there. When you reach your nose, move the card back out again as you continue to nose-pencil the outlines. When the card is at arms length look back out at twenty feet again and “pencil” out there. Stop and palm your eyes. You have just asked those eye muscles to stretch and flex and though it may not seem like much, the eye may be quite tired.
Our eyes “want” to see clearly. Focusing is achieved by the action of the autonomic nervous system; it is not in our direct control. Through movement, relaxation and interest, the natural focusing mechanism is stimulated and the eyes have a chance of seeing clearly. After palming, you can do the “tromboning” with the other eye and then with both eyes together. As your eyes become more practiced you can increase the number of repetitions. You will notice your range of clarity and speed of focus increase, which is always a joy.