Invite All of You to Participate
Wednesday, January 1, 2003
by: Katherine Rogers

Section: Vision

"You are more than eyes.” This was my response to a potential client who asked if his eyesight could be improved. Tom was born with cataracts on both eyes. These were removed in a series of operations between the age of three and six. This skewed the way he saw his environment and guided himself, as he learned to move. Thick glasses enabled Tom to go to school and to play catch with his father.

Tom, now in his early 20s, wanted to get out into the world. His vision was 20/80 and he knew his left eye looked out to the side. He had heard that there were various alternative methods for improving sight and he was eager to start working. I told him, "All of you participates in how you look at the world. If you come to me for lessons, your eyes will only be one part of a whole you."

Tom agreed and we met for his first lesson. When Tom walked, he did it fast, with his head kept down and his shoulders hunched forward. He looked as if he were determined to plow through any obstacle. Standing, he looked like a bow just before the arrow was let loose. He kept both feet firmly on the ground, and like a toddler, stretched the back of his knees and arched his back. His left eye and foot pointed towards the left, his head faced the floor and towards the right. He increased the arch of his back, craned his head forward and clenched his fists in determination to look at the eye chart. I felt the quality of Tom's life would improve if he learned not to put so much effort into everything he did, and his eyesight would tag along with the rest of him.

Eventually Tom noticed that his peripheral vision was better and he could make out the numbers on nearby license plates. The Feldenkrais Method® allows people to learn at their own speed and Tom is changing habits developed at an early age. This progress has occurred over a few years but Tom has been patient because he is enjoying the process. Tom is ready to start altering the way his posture affects his movement. He sees that his "bow and arrow" stance restricts his field of vision.

Try this yourself. First, stand solidly on both feet with arched legs and back. Turn to look around yourself and notice where you stop and what you can see. Return to your starting position, and then shift your weight over one foot. The other foot can stay on the floor but let it be light. Take your whole upper body; arms and shoulders, head and neck, and look around yourself. Try turning a few times towards your standing leg, then try it towards the other leg. Notice where you can see now and where you stop rotating.

Do this a few times shifting your weight as you rotate each time to see if you can invite more of you to join the rotation. Notice how much farther around you can see. This may seem like an easy movement, but many of the clients I have don't know how to do this and— they haven't grown up with limited sight like Tom.

I have been helping Tom learn this movement of shifting his weight and twisting to look behind himself. Tom had never done this before and was surprised that he could look almost directly behind himself.. I had Tom was doing this faster and faster at the end of a recent lesson and he laughed with delight as he swung around from side to side, looking behind himself. The best thing though, was when he stopped and realized that his face was forward and his head was raised.

Tom had never looked at anyone face to face but now he can. He is delighted. Oh, by the way, his last eye exam showed his vision to be 20/60.
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