From Chapter 8: Eyes Must Move to See
Eyes Grasp the World with Saccadic Motion
The essential rapid flickering of eyes is called saccadic motion. In 1964 Russian biophysicist Alfred Yarbus demonstrated that if this motion stops, an "empty field" is created within one to three seconds. "Empty field" means no shapes, no colors; nothing is seen.
You can observe saccadic eye movements yourself. Find someone to get close to. Watch their eyeball from the side. As your specimen looks straight ahead you will see her eye making small jerky hops. This happens even when the person thinks she is "fixing" her gaze on something.
To imagine how far your eyeball travels during an average saccadic hop, cut a pie into 10 000 pieces. Eyeballs travel across one of these pieces in one fiftieth of a second. Then they change direction.
I call this gyrating movement of the eyeballs the saccadic dance. If the saccadic dance is slowed down visual clarity is inhibited. Research saccadic eye movements of people who wear thick glasses (ask them to remove their specs); then observe people with normal vision. Long, languid saccades accompany refractive error, compared to the sparkling agile motion of normal sight.
By using the swinging and movement games in this chapter, we invite the saccadic dance to return or to remain in everyone's eyes. The dance takes place in the context of total body aliveness. Head moves, eyelids blink, lungs inflate and deflate. The whole dance hall is pulsing to the beat, even with tranquil music.
Everyone benefits from swinging and swaying. It is relaxing to body and mind.
The Near-Far Swing
The Near-Far Swing is good for both myopes and hyperopes. It helps myopes bring their clear close vision outward into the distance, just like unrolling a royal carpet. Hyperopes can bring their relaxed distance vision in close with this swing.
Sit comfortably indoors or outside and find an object to hold in your hand. This could be a toy, a blade of grass, your watch. Choose an object in the distance anywhere from one meter (three ft) away to the horizon. A tree will do or a license plate on a car or a picture on the wall.
Connect your close object and your far object with an invisible rope Circle the close object a few times with your nose, then slide and glide, on the rope out to your distant object. Don't slide near and far with your eyeballs. Move your head, letting your nose guide your eyes.
Circle your distant object a few times, then slide back on the rope to the object in your hand. This is a Near-Far Swing. Your rope could turn into a string of pearls, a spider's thread, a gold chain. Repeat the Near-Far Swing at least ten times on the same object; then choose another two shapes: one up close, the other in the distance.
The Near-For Swing is fun in the house, in the kitchen, at the table. It's intriguing on a mountain top. You could create invisible lines of force making a network across the countryside.
Ball Games Galore
Balls are attractive to eyes. Their roundness, unpredictability and free-flowing movement irresistibly beckons interest and induces saccadic motion. Nothing moves as superbly as a ball--except perhaps the human eyeball itself. Cultivate all ball games to call forth flickery, faster-than-you-can-think-about-it saccadic eye movements. Buy your family a collection of balls big and little, spongy ones and bouncy ones. Have a special box or basket to keep them in.
• Roll the ball. Follow the ball with your nose.
• Bounce the ball. Follow the ball with your nose
• Play catch. Follow the ball with your nose.