How the Alexander Technique Helps My Vision

By Jeffrey Glazer

Just like we have habits of movement and thought, we also have habits of how we use our eyes. My habitual eye pattern is called convergence, which means one or both of the eyes tend to be turned inward. In my case, muscularly my left eye converges to the right, and as a result my peripheral vision to the left is partially cut off. But because my convergence is habitual, I’m usually not even aware of its effect on my peripheral vision until I experience a change. To a behavioral optometrist or other keen observer of the eyes, they can see this pattern in me. However, it’s mostly unnoticeable from the outside, but the experience on the inside when it is changed is significant and clear.

While eye exercises can and do help, there is another approach that I use to help remedy this situation. Using my Alexander Technique skill, I am able to let go of neck and upper back tension, which activates better use of my primary control. The primary control is the relationship between the head, neck, and back; the quality of that relationship, for better or worse, affects movement and overall functioning. Once my neck and upper back is freed up from the habitual tension that I employ, my vision changes in the process!

There are two distinct vision changes that occur.

  • First, my vision actually becomes sharper. I am nearsighted (myopia), but I notice that I am a little less nearsighted when free from neck and upper back tension. Even with contact lenses or glasses on, the clarity of my vision improves.
  • The second change I notice is that the left side of the world seems to open up for me. This is a result of my left eye convergence dissipating. I experience more peripheral vision on the left side and it feels like I have two eyes again.

What astounds me is that I get these results without directly manipulating my eyes. It comes about as an indirect effect of successfully using the Alexander directions (thoughts sent from the brain to the body) to change the quality of my head, neck, and back relationship (i.e. primary control).

This was one of F.M. Alexander’s main points, that to deal with a specific issue we don’t always have to address it directly. Since everything is interrelated, one can get more bang for their buck by working with the whole. And not only does changing the primary control improve my vision, my movement becomes more fluid, breathing improves, my voice is more resonant, my thinking is clearer, and I feel taller and lighter.

In Aldous Huxley’s 1942 book, The Art of Seeing, he writes the following:

“In myopes especially, posture tends to be extremely bad. This may be directly due in some cases to the shortsight, which encourages stooping and hanging of the head. Conversely, the myopia may be due in part at least to the bad posture. F.M. Alexander records cases in which myopic children regain normal vision after being taught the proper way of carrying the head and neck in relation to the trunk.

In adults the correction of improper posture does not seem to be sufficient of itself to restore normal vision. Improvement in vision will be accelerated by those who want to correct faulty habits of using the organism as a whole; but the simultaneous learning of the specific art of seeing is indispensable.” (Huxley 158).

Huxley was a big proponent of the Alexander Technique as well as the Bates method for improving vision. Alexander himself did not approve of specific exercises without attention to the whole self, so his philosophy may differ from Huxley. However, what they have in common is what I know in myself to be true. The restoration of a balanced head, neck, back relationship, and the consequent correction of posture that comes along with it, results in an improvement in my vision.

Bibliography: Huxley, Aldous. The Art of Seeing. Seattle: Montana Books, 1975. Print.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on'][/author_image] [author_info]JEFFREY GLAZER is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. He found the Alexander Technique in 2008 after an exhaustive search for relief from chronic pain in his arms and neck. Long hours at the computer had made his pain debilitating, and he was forced to leave his job in finance. The remarkable results he achieved in managing and reducing his pain prompted him to become an instructor in order to help others. He received his teacher certification at the American Center for the Alexander Technique after completing their 3-year, 1600 hour training course in 2013. He also holds a BS in Finance and Marketing from Florida State University.[/author_info] [/author]