Our eyes have 6 muscles each and are designed to move in a multiple of directions allowing us to track moving things, to dial our vision in to a specific detail, and to open our preiferal vision and expand our "zone" in sports. Just like we have habits in how we walk, talk and engage with life, how we use our eyes, whether our eyes are dry or wet, and noticing more detail in our surrounding thru sight is a way to awaken new insights, shift perceptions and clear self limiting beliefs.
Most of the time we practice keeping our eyes dialed into a single spot like the screen of an iPhone or computer and this trains our eyes to move LESS, to see LESS and creates fatigue and tension in the neck and face. Another common habit is the inability to let our eyes "rest" on something, instead we either hyper focus or the opposite with eyes darting from one thing to the next. Hyper focusing uses far more muscles than needed and creates tight dry eyes. Darting eyes is a sign of not being able to focus. There is a happy medium in yoga called a "drishti" gaze. It's softening the eyes and allowing for both focus and relaxation while using the eyes in a posture. It's a practice that will help develop concentration and the ability to "see the world as it really is". In dance, having this soft eye helps the neck and jaw to soften and allows the mover access other senses in the body more easily.
Using the eyes is also a great way to integrate the head and neck in movement. Integrating the neck in dance takes time to connect and allow natural movement thru "looking and seeing". In Kai, this movement is one of 21 movements and is designed to turn on our ability to direct energy ( looking) and to receive ( seeing) as well as to clear our vision by noticing perspectives, thoughts, beliefs or filters that cloud our vision. Seeing clearly is a way to activate the imagination and visualize oneself in the future, and is really important for motivation and keeping track of progress.
Using the eyes as a tool to activate focus, meditation, relaxation and to move and direct energy is a gift the eyes have for us. Below are some tips for integrating the eyes into any kind of workout you do:
1. Earth: Move your eyes all around from top to bottom, right to left and all the pathways in between. Stretch into the corners and feel your eye muscles challenged. Imagine "pushing the space with you eyes" like a bulldozer. Strengthen vision by strengthening your eye muscles.
2. Water: Cup your hands and imagine them filled with water. Bring the water up to your eyes and "cup" them. Rolling your eyes around fluidly and allowing the natural fluids of the eyes to heal and moisten eye tension. Allow your eyes to "drip" and welcome tears ....
3. Air: Look out as far as you can and "dial" your eyes into a detail, then soften them wide allowing in the peripheral vision as wide as you can.
4. Fire: Dart your eyes from one spot to the next as if you are tracking a fly. Hold your head still, then allow your head to accommodate the eyes following the fly. Imagine sending "fire out your eyes" , and allow your body to move with the fire like a candle flame.
5. Wood: Use different parts of your body or the room to target your vision with the "dristi" soft gaze while your practice balancing and moving from "on and off" center.