We first learned how to see as babies. Then we learned how to not see, in school and in work, as we became adults. How do we rewild our eyesight?
Allow me to first retell my personal story of rewilding my eyesight.
As a child, I had normal, everyday, fantastic eyesight, no problem. I had a rich inner life, and a rich outer one too. Both of these lives felt in balance.
Then, at the age of 11, I moved from small-town Oregon to the big city, and started attending an inner-city middle-school in Portland, Oregon. Within a year my vision began markedly blurring. Within a couple years I couldn’t watch movies without glasses, and my inner life swelled out of all proportion, as my outer life shrunk to the size of a pea (or thereabouts).
Every year, my vision worsened, prescriptions strengthened. Immediately I distrusted the whole experience; the willingness of optometrists to write stronger and stronger prescriptions, the apparent helplessness of anyone to explain or remedy my worsening vision. My only role: to find eyeglass frames that didn’t look too ridiculous. A role which I failed at for years, I might add.
During high school I stumbled across Dr. William Bates’ “Bates Method” of vision therapy; though I couldn’t get it to “work” (and I struggled with doing the exercises consistently), I never forgot the hope of regaining my once fantastic, naturally perfect vision, that the “Bates’ Method’ offered.
I’ve spent a few hundred dollars on books, pinhole glasses, vision therapy kits, and so on, since. But the most useful money I ever spent, I spent at Tom Brown’s Tracker School, on a standard class, where he said:
“Folks, practicing wide-angle vision will not only increase your awareness remarkably, but some of my students have used it to regain their eyesight and throw away their glasses.”
Pretty much everything else I have to say stems from this simple, throwaway claim. If you don’t know what I mean by wide-angle (or “peripheral”) vision, I’ll explain more of this later. For now, know that it means just “seeing things out of the corner of your eye” – all the time!
“But, I’m specially broken…”
I thought this for years, that my loss of eyesight would resist any attempts to regain it, that I had special problems somehow not addressed by the various programs. Let me go through some objections you may have.
Objection #1: What if my vision “is specially broken”?
I don’t know. I thought this too. Mine recovered. Why not yours?
Objection #2: But I’ve had glasses since the age of two. I don’t have any great vision to regain!
Maybe. Maybe you never had the chance to really learn how to see in the first place, due to the vagaries of modern diet and family life.
Objection #3: I don’t do well at following regimens and self-help stuff. What if it doesn’t work, and I lose patience?
Yeah, me neither. Yes, I worried about that too. And yet, now in my thirties (two decades after the problem began), I have begun to regain my formerly amazing vision.
You don’t want to “fix” your eyesight. You want to relearn how to see, and to rewild your vision.
More than anything else about how I’ve gone about regaining my vision, I love the fact that it has improved my visual awareness too. Not just acuity; but awareness! Since it has involved retraining my ability to use my eyes, it has made me wonder if I will ever have to worry about presbyopia (old-age vision, the need for reading glasses, etc.) either. In fact, if vision really operates as a skill relating the mind to the eyes, for the rest of my life, my eyesight may just get better, and better, and better. Until I’m seeing stars with my naked eyes that would require a modern person to use a telescope. You’ve heard those stories of ancient astronomers (not astronauts! I mean native, indigenous star watchers), haven’t you? How did they see those stars?
I really think I’ve discovered how.
For only $99.95…
No, sorry. You won’t get it that easy. Or rather, you only get it by doing it the truly easy way. But you probably won’t like it. If I’ve learned anything, as I’ve begun working with a mentoring language that has shot my ability to learn and teach through the roof (and resulted in things like my eyesight improving at last), I’ve learned not to pretend that explaining something teaches it.
You’ll only learn to rewild and retrain your vision, by doing small easy things, one piece at a time.
My perfect vision hasn’t fully returned.
I describe my current vision level, as flashes of 20/20 vision that last from split seconds to several minutes, perhaps for a total of 30 minutes a day. In the dark, bad lighting, and unfamiliar situations, this total can nosedive. Keep in mind though, that (as I write this) winter currently reigns in Portland. Every summer, with full sunny, bright days, my vision takes the biggest leaps and bounds of improvements.
If I had to predict, I would guess that my vision, at the current rate, will fully improve by the end of this next summer, or the one after it, since good sunlight seems to play such a strong role. But I never stop training my vision, even in winter.
Okay, where do I start?
Start with a good “set-up”. Eat a rounded paleodiet (with fish oils, fermented foods, and so on), or close to it, or another nourishing tradition in accord with your body’s needs, not an ideology. Get to know your body’s needs. Get an allergy test, and avoid your food intolerances and allergies completely. Start exercising. Get your body healthy. Then the eyesight part will come much easier. My improved vision correlates overwhelmingly with my improved health.
I’ll speak more about the actual nitty-gritty of eyesight improvement practices in Part II.