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view on the ocean mountains, rocks and waves

A woman rushed to see her doctor, looking very much worried and all strung out. She rattles off: "Doctor, take a look at me. When I woke up this morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up, my skin was all wrinkled and pasty, my eyes were bloodshot and bugging out, and I had this corpse like look on my face! What's WRONG with me, Doctor!?"
The doctor looks her over for a couple of minutes, then calmly says: "Well, I can tell you that there ain't nothing wrong with your eyesight...."

The benefits of a clear vision in onsight rock climbing

There are two ways to increase your level of onsight climbing. The first is to increase your resistance, which will allow you to stay longer on a climbing route, hoping that your climbing partner does not lose his patience. The second technique is more subtle, consist in developing other skills rather than power and strength.

The view and the art of seeing

I was a ravenous reader of Aldus Huxley, the author of the book Brave New World, but also of essays like "The Doors of Perception" and "The art of seeing." Aldus Huxley, after a severe loss of vision, has recovered his eyes following a very discussed method in those years, because in contrast with the official science. In his book he wants to communicate what he has learned in the course of this experience of self-healing, illustrating practical exercises in an extremely precise way. I'm convinced that the reading of The Art of Seeing is also crucial for those who have no vision problems, but wants to improve their power of observation. The scope of this book goes far beyond a simple manual.

When I was eighteen I wore glasses and had to drive with lenses. After reading the book The art of seeing, I took off my glasses. After a few years I noticed remarkable improvement from my view, I repeated the examination by the eye doctor to renew the driving license and now there is no longer an obligation for the lenses.

In those years, I've practiced the exercises for the eyes described in the book, and these, combined with a careful observation of everyday things helped me to improve eyesight.


This will be the first of a series of 3 articles dedicated to the vision:

1 How the vision works (this article, part 1)
Glasses, why you shouldn't wear them
The method for a perfect sight without glasses
The process of vision and how your sight works

2 Relaxation and attention (part 2)
The fundamental principle of the practice of any art
Vision and Memory
Voluntary and involuntary attention
The relaxation of the eyes

3 Methods and exercises for eyesight (part 3)
The movement and the vision
The oscillation
The vision is not conscious
Analytical vision
The mind and vision


Glasses, why you shouldn't wear them

Living beings have a capacity for self-healing if the physical and mental conditions become favorable, if you take care of your eyes in an active way. The glasses stimulate this capacity for self-healing? To this question, Aldus Huxley answer is no. The described method for improving eyesight obviously is not well accepted by practitioners of the orthodox method for the eye care. (All parts in italics in this article are from the book "The Art of Seeing " by Aldus Huxley):

The doctor treats, nature heals. The old aphorism sums up the whole scope and purpose of medicine, which is to provide sick organisms with the internal and external conditions most favourable to the exercise of their own self-regulative and restorative powers. If there were no vis medicatrix naturae, no natural healing powers, medicine would be helpless, and every small derangement would either kill outright or settle down into chronic disease. When conditions are favourable, sick organisms tend to recover through their own inherent powers of self-healing. If they do not recover, it means either that the case is hopeless, or that the conditions are not favourable—in other words, that the medical treatment being applied is failing to achieve what an adequate treatment ought to achieve.

In the light of these general principles let us consider the current medical treatment of defects of vision. In the great majority of cases the only treatment consists in fitting the patient with artificial lenses, designed to correct the particular error of refraction which is held to be responsible for the defect. Medicus curat; and in most cases the patient is rewarded by an immediate improvement in vision. But in the meanwhile, what about Nature and her healing process? Do glasses eliminate the causes of defective vision? Do the organs of sight tend to revert to normal functioning as the result of the treatment with artificial lenses?

The answer to these questions is, No. Artificial lenses neutralize the symptoms, but do not get rid of the causes of defective vision. And so far from improving, eyes fitted with these devices tend to grow progressively weaker and to require progressively stronger lenses for the correction of their symptoms. In a word, medicus curat, natura NON sanat. From this we can draw one of two conclusions: either defects in the organs of seeing are incurable, and can only be palliated by mechanical neutralization of symptoms; or else something is radically wrong with the current methods of treatment.

The method for a perfect sight without glasses

The method to which Huxley refers to is the Bates Method: Perfect Sight Without Glasses. Dr. Bates had the insight to understand that the eye had the same capacity for self-healing as the rest of the body and developed a series of exercises suitable to correct the bad habits that did not allow the natural process of self-healing:

... Dr. W . H. Bates, a New York oculist, become dissatisfied with the ordinary symptomatic treatment of eyes. Seeking a substitute for artificial lenses, he set himself to discover if there was any way of re-educating defective vision into a condition of normality.
As the result of his work with a large number of patients he came to the conclusion that the great majority of visual defects were functional and due to faulty habits of use. These faulty habits of use were invariably related, he found, to a condition of strain and tension. As was to be expected from the unitary nature of the human organism, the strain affected both the body and the mind. Dr. Bates discovered that, by means of appropriate techniques, this condition of strain could be relieved. When it had been relieved—when patients had learnt to use their eyes and mind in a relaxed way—vision was improved and refractive errors tended to correct themselves. Practice in the educational techniques served to build up good seeing habits in place of the faulty habits responsible for defective vision, and in many cases function came to be completely and permanently normalized.
Now, it is a well-established physiological principle that improved functioning always tends to result in an improvement in the organic condition of the tissues involved. The eye, Dr. Bates discovered, was no exception to this general rule. When the patient learnt to relax his tenseness and acquired proper seeing-habits, the vis medicatrix naturae was given a chance to operate—with the result that, in many cases, the improvement of functioning was followed by a complete restoration of the health and organic integrity of the diseased eye.

The process of vision and how your sight works

When in a house blinds are closed you do not know what's out there, you do not know if the weather is nice, if it rains, or if you can see a beautiful panorama. When you open the blinds you will finally have a vision of what's out there. First you will start noticing things that are interesting for you: if you have to go out you will check if it rains or not. This information will be compared with your past experiences, if the sky is covered with dark clouds, you know that probably is going to rain in a few minutes. The vision is a process composed of feeling, perception and selection:

The structure and mechanism of the eye have been studied in minute detail, and good descriptions of these things can be found in any text-book of ophthalmology or physiological optics. I will not attempt to summarize them in this place; for my concern is not with anatomical structures and physiological mechanisms, but with the process of seeing—the process whereby these structures and mechanisms are used to provide our mind with visual knowledge of the external world.

The process of seeing may be analysed into three subsidiary processes: a process of sensing, a process of selecting and a process of perceiving. That which is sensed is a set of sensa within a field. (A visual sensum is one of the coloured patches which form, so to say, the raw material of seeing, and the visual field is the totality of such coloured patches which may be sensed at any given moment.)

Sensing is followed by selecting, a process in which a part of the visual field is discriminated, singled out from the rest. This process has, as its physiological basis, the fact that the eye records its clearest images at the central point of the retina, the macular region with its minute fovea centralis, the point of sharpest vision. There is also, of course, a psychological basis for selection; for on any given occasion there is generally something in the visual field which it is in our interest to discriminate more clearly than any other part of the field. The final process is that of perceiving. This process entails the recognition of the sensed and selected sensum as the appearance of a physical object existing in the external world. It is important to remember that physical objects are not given as primary data.

What is given is only a set of sensa; and a sensum, in Dr. Broad's language, is something 'non-referential.' In other words, the sensum, as such, is a mere coloured patch having no reference to an external physical object. The external physical object makes its appearance only when we have discriminatively selected the sensum and used it to perceive with. It is our minds which interpret the sensum as the appearance of a physical object out in space.

In rock climbing magazines and websites you'll find abundant advice on climbing technique, training, stretching, breathing, nutrition, psychology and so on, but almost nothing on eyesight. This is strange, because rock climbing performance is strongly related to visual skill, you'll start to use your eyesight even before touching the rock. You need to have a good vision and good observation skills already before starting a climb when you check from the ground the position of the holds and the possible solutions of the hardest part of the climb. While climbing you'll continue reading the rock along the way, using your visual skills at your best.


Ivo Buda