A Simple, Universally Useful Exercise from Dr. Meir Schneider
There is a common thought in the medical field and in our society that vision in general, and eye diseases specifically, can’t be improved. This couldn’t be further from the truth – in fact, so much of what we understand as general knowledge is totally false.
This is especially true in regards to our health. When I was born, my doctors, all respected in the field, believed that I would be blind for life. With faith in my body, diligent exercise, and proper teaching, I can now see. Getting my driver’s license in the state of California was a great triumph of my life. I have used my experience, my training as a physiologist, and more than 40 years of practice to help hundreds upon hundreds of people see better. It is time to overcome the idea that eyes can’t improve – they can, and with the proper knowledge and practice, they will.
The Cause of Eye Disease: Tension
Hands down, tension is the number one cause and complication of vision loss, whether it is “natural” or due to some sort of pathogenesis like macular degeneration or glaucoma. Tension in our eyes strains the optic nerve, increases eye pressure, contributes to the degradation of our corneas and maculae, and brings on headaches and migraines. In nearly all cases, people with eye trouble place a great deal of strain on themselves without realizing it. Nearly all eye conditions can be improved by learning to use the eyes with less tension. While learning to see properly is a life-long process that I describe in depth in my new book, there is one exceptional exercise, useful to any and to all, that helps to combat eye tension and the problems associated with it. We call that exercise palming.
Reducing Eye Tension and Vision Problems
The exercise of palming is the best way we know to rest the eyes and ease tension in the whole body. Everyone occasionally covers their eyes with their hands to give them a brief rest; in body language, it is a sign as clear as yawning that the person is tired and perhaps a bit overwhelmed. The benefits of covering the eyes with the hands go far beyond a momentary rest. The benefits multiply exponentially, so that ten minutes of rest for the eyes is much more than ten times as good as one minute. Palming is so simple and natural that many people have a hard time understanding how good it is for us, but it is recognized as an important exercise in yoga, in Tibetan Kum Nye exercise, and in Chinese eye exercise. We have seen noticeable improvements in a host of conditions due primarily to palming, including:
- Macular degeneration
- Myopia (near-sightedness)
- Strabismus (crossed eyes or wall eyes)
- Pressure on the optic nerve
- Optic nerve problems
- Diplopia (double vision)
- Poor vision
How to Palm for Total Relaxation
To prevent shoulder tension and constricted blood flow, your arms should be completely supported at just the right height to cover your eyes without pressing on them. You can try sitting at a table with pillows propping your arms, or lying on your back, knees bent, with pillows on your chest to support the arms, or sitting on the floor with your back against the wall, knees drawn up to your chest and pillows piled in your lap. The actual position does not matter, as long as you find one that works for you. You will need to experiment and use your imagination, but eventually you will find the right position.
When you are settled in your niche, rub your hands together vigorously to make them warm. If they don’t warm up quickly, don’t worry – palming itself will warm the hands. Close your eyes and cover them with your hands so that the palms are over the eyes, with the fingers on the forehead and extending up to the scalp. Your hands should be just a little cupped so that they do not put pressure on the eyeball, but only the muscles surrounding the eye. The idea is to shut out as much light as possible without putting pressure on the eyes. With your eyes gently covered, breathe deeply, relax, and imagine that you see total darkness. This relieves the optic nerve, which is used to firing non-stop. Congratulations, you are now palming. You cannot over-palm – in fact, many of us palm for several hours a day – but always try to make your sessions last at least 6 minutes. That’s how long it takes the eyes to relax.
Whether we sit, lie, or stand, there are three things we are not allowed to do while we palm:
- We are not allowed to raise our shoulders toward our ears.
- We are not allowed to put pressure on the cheekbones or the eyes.
- We are not allowed to wrench the neck.
Following these simple instructions will keep palming comfortable and effective.
Functions of Palming
Palming serves two important functions. First, it completely rests the optic nerve, when done properly. By shutting out all light, we can keep the optic nerve from being stimulated by outside images, and by directing our minds to imagine only blackness we keep mental stimulation of the optic nerve to a minimum. When we sleep, we have no control over the optic nerve, but while awake we can control to a certain extent what the mind’s eye sees. Through relaxing the optic nerve, palming relaxes the rest of the nervous system.
Second, palming relieves the rigidity of the eye muscles which plays a large part in restricting vision and contributes to disease. Relaxation can have the same domino effect that tension does – if you succeed in relaxing a few muscles, the muscles around them may decide to relax too, so that the relaxation spreads out in concentric rings. For this reason we often recommend palming even for people who have no noticeable vision problems, but who need a general release from tension. Relaxing the eyes can do wonders for the whole body. This relaxation also has an important psychological effect: it teaches the brain that the eyes do not always have to strain, that they can function better and more comfortably through relaxation than through stress.
Palming can be practiced anywhere, but we recommend doing it in a dark room. The first essential is to find a position comfortable enough to remain in for twenty minutes or more. Every part of the body should be relaxed and supported. You will be covering your eyes with the palms of your hands; it is important that you neither lean forward into the hands, which puts too much pressure on the delicate tissues around the eyes, nor hold your arms up, as this will quickly tire the arms and shoulders. Tilting the head too far backward will cut off circulation to the head. We are confident that you will find that palming does wonders for your eyes and for your life. For more information, please see my new book Awakening Your Power for Self Healing, in which we discuss vision improvement in great, practical depth.