Posted by Dr William H Bates (Introductory note by Greg Marsh) on April 12, 2018
Try out these powerful "Swing" techniques, in Dr. Bates Own Words!
[You may already "know" that movement -- mental, physical, visual -- is the centerpiece of the Bates Method for Eyesight Improvement. You may also "know" that the Bates Method Swing -- long swing, short swing, other variations -- is one of the primary Bates' techniques for recovering clear vision. But how do you learn to relax your eyes and mind in this way, all day long? Read this original article by Dr. Bates for some simple, powerful clues! The original article appeared in Dr. William H Bates' Better Eyesight Magazines, with the title, "Swinging". - gm]
Swinging: When the eyes move slowly or rapidly from side to side, stationary objects appear to move in the direction opposite to the movement of the head and eyes.
People with normal vision are not always conscious of the swing. When called to their attention, however, they can always demonstrate it, and are always able to imagine all stationary objects to be moving. In imperfect sight, the swing is modified or absent. This is a truth which has been demonstrated over a long period of years by a great many people, and no exceptions have been found.
The normal or perfect swing is slow, short, easy and continuous. When the swing is normal, it is always true that not only is the vision normal or perfect, but also the memory, the imagination, or the mental efficiency correspond. When the memory is imperfect, the imagination, the mental efficiency, and the sight are also imperfect.
All cases of imperfect sight from myopia, or near-sightedness, become normal when the swing becomes normal. The same is true in cataract, glaucoma, diseases of the optic nerve and retina. For example, a woman, aged sixty-three, was treated for imperfect sight from cataract. Her vision was 10/200, and was not improved by glasses. For twenty years she had not been able to read a newspaper with or without glasses. In three visits, with the help of the normal swing, her vision improved to 10/10 minus [almost normal], with flashes of normal vision, and she read diamond [tiny] type at twelve inches rapidly without glasses. Other similar cases have been relieved as promptly.
It is important to understand how the swing can be imagined. Some people with mild cases of imperfect sight can imagine a letter [for instance on an eye chart] or other object to be moving when they see or remember it perfectly. There are many others who fail. Severe pain, fatigue, or worry often prevent the demonstration of the swing. Blinking and palming are helpful in demonstrating the swing. The distance of the object regarded is important. The patient should be placed at a distance at which he can best demonstrate the swing. The distance varies with the patient.
It is unfortunate that many patients consider the swing complicated or impossible. However, they can usually demonstrate that a stare or strain lowers the vision. When holding a test card at a convenient distance from the eyes, patients may be convinced that the test card is seen better when moving. They may not profit by their experience, but continue to stare or strain, which always lowers the vision.
One patient was unable to imagine any kind of a swing. He was suffering from pain, mental depression, and imperfect sight for the distance. Reading the newspaper, even with glasses, was impossible. Since nothing he tried gave him any relief, I suggested that he stop trying to see and make no effort to imagine stationary objects to be moving. He practiced this while sitting in my waiting room. He paid no attention to the apparent movement of stationary objects, nor did he look at any object more than a fraction of a second. His vision after that improved from 20/50 to 20/10. He became able to imagine the movement of objects and demonstrated that all his pain and mental depression were caused by a stare or an effort to see all things stationary, when he regarded, remembered or imagined them. He was comfortable when he imagined objects moving or swinging, but very uncomfortable when he made an effort or imagined them to be stationary.
Recently, I tested the sight of a girl about ten years old. She read the Snellen card at ten feet with normal vision. She was asked: "Do you see any of the small letters moving from side to side?"
"Yes," she answered, "they are all moving."
"Now can you imagine one of the small letters stationary?" At once she quickly looked away and frowned.
"Why did you look away?" her father asked her.
She replied: "Because it gave me a pain in my eyes and head, and the letters became blurred. Don't ask me to do it again."
The experience of this child is the same as that of everyone, young or old, with perfect or imperfect sight. When the sight is normal and continuously good, to try to stop the swing of a letter or other object necessitates a strain — an effort which always lowers the vision and produces discomfort or pain in one or both eyes.
It has been repeatedly demonstrated that a letter or other object cannot be remembered or even imagined perfectly and continuously, unless one can imagine it to be moving or swinging. Not only does the sight become imperfect, but also the memory, imagination, judgment, and other mental processes are temporarily lost. These facts should be known to teachers, because they greatly affect the sight, the mental efficiency, and the scholarship of their pupils.
When the memory, imagination and vision are normal, the eyes, the brain and the entire nervous system are at rest. The reverse is also true, for when the muscles and nerves of the body are not at rest, the sight, memory and imagination are imperfect, and the mental efficiency is lessened or lost.
It is impossible to imagine pain, or any symptom of disease and the normal swing at the same time. Children with whooping cough have been immediately relieved by the relaxation obtained from the swing. Many patients suffering from severe attacks of bronchitis have been promptly relieved in the same way. Angina pec-toris, pneumonia, trifacial neuralgia, and other serious diseases have also been relieved after relaxation or rest was obtained with the aid of the swing.
The swing is generally beneficial. Some patients obtain more relaxation from one type of swing than from another. The long swing, however, is most helpful in a great many cases.
LONG SWING: Stand with the feet about one foot apart. Turn the body to the right, at the same time lifting the heel of the left foot. The head and eyes move with the movement of the body. Do not pay any attention to the apparent movement of stationary objects. Now place the left heel on the floor, turn the body to the left, raising the heel of the right foot. Alternate. Pain and fatigue are relieved promptly while practicing this swing. When done correctly, relief is felt in a short time. The long swing, when done before retiring, lessens eyestrain during sleep.
VARIABLE SWING: Hold the forefinger of one hand six inches from the right eye and about the same distance to the right. Look straight ahead and move the head a short distance from side to side. The finger appears to move in the direction opposite to the movement of the head and eyes.
DRIFTING SWING: The patient does not think of nor regard anything longer than a fraction of a second. It is helpful in doing this for the patient to imagine him-self floating down a river. He may be able to imagine the drifting movement of the boat in which he is floating, better with the eyes closed than with them open. In this case, alternate the imagination with the eyes open and with them closed. The imagination may be improved in this way.
SHORT SWING: When the sight is normal, one can demonstrate the short swing. When it is imperfect, one can demonstrate only the longer swing. When a patient with imperfect sight regards the Snellen test card at ten or fifteen feet, he may be able to imagine one of the letters on the card to be swinging a quarter of an inch or less. The imagination of a shorter swing always improves the sight. Some patients can imagine the short swing better with their eyes closed than with them open. Alternate the imagination of the swing of the letter with the eyes closed and with them open. By repetition, the vision of the letter with the eyes open will improve (at first in flashes, later more continuously), if the memory of the short swing is perfect with the eyes closed.
UNIVERSAL SWING: When the eyes are at rest, they are always moving. When the body is at rest, it can always be imagined, one part in turn, to be moving or swinging. The chair, on which the patient is sitting, is swinging. The floor, on which the chair rests, is also swinging. The walls of the room also swing when the floor swings. When one part of the building swings, one can imagine the whole building to be swinging. The ground, on which the building stands, is also swinging. When the ground swings, other buildings connected with it swing. One can imagine the whole city to be swinging, this continent and all other continents on the earth can be imagined swinging. In short, one can imagine not only that the whole world is moving, but also the universe, including the sun, the moon and stars. The practice of the universal swing is of the greatest benefit, for in this way one can obtain the maximum amount of relaxation.
[Read one of the above five variations of the swing carefully, and try it out. These are powerful subtleties Dr. Bates discovered in working with a multitude of different patients.]