Recently I was noticing some increasing challenges with my eyes -- strain at the end of the day, difficulty adjusting between darker and brighter settings, and extra effort required to switch focus between near and far. How often do you think about your eyes or take intentional steps to care for them? We can so easily take them for granted.
I know that most of these problems stem from too much time spent squinting at screens. The 20-20-20 rule (every twenty minutes look twenty feet away for twenty seconds) certainly helps mediate strain, as does blinking often and, most importantly, making sure to step away from screens altogether to spend time outside.
Still, if my eyes are feeling achey, burning, or blurry, I've found that the following four practices bring relief and a feeling of renewal.* If you're having similar issues, or want to prevent them, I recommend giving these a try!
If you're feeling eye fatigue, try this revitalizing energy bath for your eyes. Rub your palms together vigorously, generating some heat and stimulating the tens of thousands of nerve endings. After a few moments gently cup your palms over your eyes and let that heat and electricity sink in. Relax your shoulders and don't press. While keeping your eyes closed, imagine gazing into the distance into total darkness. Hold this for a few minutes, then blink a few times into your dark palms before releasing.
This exercise is great for relieving eye strain from computer use as well as increasing mental clarity and focus. Take the middle finger of one hand and with firm to light pressure, begin tracing figure-eights over the eye sockets. Start on the bridge of the nose and loop over the brow, across the cheekbone, and up and over the bridge to the other brow and cheekbone. Repeat several times then switch directions.
Try it a few times with eyes closed, then open your eyes and follow your finger with your eyes a few times. Then do the same movement with your eyes, following a sideways figure eight pattern, but looking out at a distance of about ten feet. Be sure to do both directions.
Engage Your Mind's Eye
In addition to periodically switching between a near and far gaze, I've found it relieving on my eyes to switch between a "here" and "not here" perspective -- from my physical eyes to the eyes of my imagination.
For example, with your eyes open, try tuning out your real surroundings and replace them -- imagine you're looking out over the ocean, or into the woods, or up at the starry sky. Try to sustain that "view" for a few moments and notice how your gaze softens and shifts.
Play with Perspective
Look around and then switch perspective by imagining that you're looking through different eyes. What would your desk, for example, look like through the eyes of a child? A very tall person? Someone who is color blind? Someone from a foreign country? From outside of the window or from a drone? To a being from another planet?
Sometimes I switch into my artist eyes and think about how I would represent an object with paint. How do you know just from looking at an object that is has weight and volume? What subtle colors are present and how do they relate to each other? Where are those colors reflected in nearby objects?
These practices engage different aspects of vision, like dropping down a new slide in a View Master, which brings relief to regular working eyes. They also encourage creativity, empathy, and imagination, which are good for the body and spirit and bring a charge of visionary energy to your vision.
Give these a try and let me know how it goes!
*I'm not a medical doctor. These exercises work with our energy system and are meant to support overall health, not treat medical conditions.