I've been taking vision lessons with a Bates Method practitioner since last September. Having worn glasses for 32 years, “elation” describes what I feel as flashes of clear vision come more and more frequently. While I certainly believed in theory that my eyesight could improve, my past solo attempts yielded no results. Now that I've been working with a teacher I can see why: Not wearing glasses is not the same as learning how to SEE without them. However much I wanted to see clearly, thought about it, talked about it, proselytized the sense of it, I hadn't actually stepped into the reality of actions that would bring about my desired result until I started taking vision lessons.
Once I started having flashes of clearer vision, it was easier to notice the conditions under which I reach for my glasses: being in a hurry, feeling out of place, concerned, annoyed or frustrated, or wanting to be efficient and “get things done.” Lucky for me, my Bates Method teacher is also my Alexander Technique student, and like all good students he teaches me about what I'm teaching him! The lure of old habits — of thought and mood, as much as habits of movement — is powerful. I know the value of stopping to pause, consider, assess, and choose a new response, but hearing it reflected back to me is an incredible gift.
I've made giant strides in negotiating my vision habits. But a particularly challenging one has been noticing how comfortable I am with things being fuzzy.
I don't like this fuzziness, but I'm used to it. I see this pattern in my students, as I recall my own process of studying Alexander Technique. We get used to being uncomfortable. Ornery, encumbered, pressured, tense — these states feel normal, customary. It's how we know ourselves. To let go of these familiar ways of being requires letting go of fundamental ways we self-identify. In short, to give up the perceived validity and necessity of being in pain, being constrained, being limited requires that we give up who we know ourselves to be.
What does it take to be willing to be someone, some way other than what/who we already know and (despite our wishful thinking, or perhaps because of it) expect ourselves to continue to be?
For some it is the unbearability of the status quo; pain is a powerful motivator for change… but it's not the level of pain but one's unwillingness to continue tolerating it that initiates change. Analagous to boiled frogs,* people can accustom themselves to inordinate amounts of discomfort.
There's no question that this stage is an uncomfortable one. Or maybe it's only uncomfortable when I notice how it conflicts with my practiced patterns of self-belief. If I follow Sherlock Holmes' admonition, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”, then the remedy is in disbelief! When I stop perpetuating my old beliefs, I find evidence for new ones.
To shift my experience of seeing clearly, I've had to practice anticipating differently, thinking of myself as someone who CAN and DOES see well without glasses. This inspired me to go back to ground zero, spending more time with the most basic vision practices. Deliberately chosen beliefs and inspired action lead to desirable results, and I can happily report that my progress is clear and satisfying!
*A frog placed in a pot of tepid water will continually adjust its body temperature if the pot is slowly heated to a boil – boiling the frog in the process.