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For people with vision, the eyes are fundamentally important to a rich and autonomous life. The ability to appreciate beauty, to read, to recognize things and people of importance can play a very large role in our sense of quality of life. However, one of the chief functions of the visual system is in organizing the body for movement. The eyes must be able to sense the position, shape and weight of objects in relation to oneself in order to move through space, plan and enact the movements of daily life. We all know what it feels like if we misjudge the number of stairs we are climbing… or pick up an empty glass, thinking it is full. Even more precision and speed is needed when judging velocity and distance of moving objects, enabling us to react effectively and move towards or away from a moving car or a falling tree branch.
Bringing attention to the use of the eyes and their intrinsic role in movement-planning whilst focusing awareness on specific aspects of movement is an ingenious tool that Moshe Feldenkrais used in very many of his lessons. Smooth, well-coordinated use of the eyes is deeply connected with the calibration of muscular tonus in the movement itself. You can experience how leading with one or the other eye affects coordination, timing, distribution and quality of movement in fascinating ways. Other lessons are devoted solely to the use of the eyes themselves, and our ability to direct our focal point more precisely to where we “believe” we are looking. Little mistakes in convergence and focal length can lead to less clarity of vision and discrepancies between our internal representation of the environment and the environment itself. If we can find a way to compare and match these more precisely, we will experience not only a possible greater clarity of vision but also more smoothly-coordinated, effective movement.
Please note: For this workshop you will need an eye patch. This could be a “pirate patch”, a medical eye patch, a sticker or just something you tie around your head. You will also need something similar to a long straw. 20-40cm long, it should be lightweight, easy to hold with one hand out in front of you for a longer period of time and of a material you are willing to put in your mouth. It should be stable enough that it will remain straight.
- Photo – © Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash