As it turns out, today was also the day to let as much light into my irises as possible...by getting my eyes dilated. Call it a last-ditch effort to savor the sunlight. It was truly a fascinating experience to have a chat with the glasses shop manager while I slowly started to feel very...off. It felt like that (rare, I swear!) moment when I realize that I am entirely too drunk. Of course I knew my eyes had just had muscle-contracting inhibiting drugs dropped into them, but I was still surprised by how it weird felt to have my irises slowly stop contracting against the day light.
My first reaction was to look away: "Do I really have to look at this woman while we're talking?"
My second reaction was to drop my head and my gaze. "Ah! my neck it's tight."
My third reaction was to go for a walk and window shop (ok, I did actually buy those fun holiday cards I saw).
So, out on this walk oh boy was it super weird. No walking with my head held tall. No smiling at strangers. No interest in the cute dogs or even in the traffic as I crossed the street. I felt like the biggest a**hole. When I got to the desired store, it was all I could do to actually find the cards I was after. With my eyes on the fritz, the world got more confusing and more emotionally dark and difficult for about two hours, and all I wanted to do was sit in my car and take a nap. It was a great reminder of how much my body and my emotional experience relies on my eyes for optimal optimalness. You may call me crazy but...it was an ENLIGHTENING walk, tho my energy was sapped by the end of it.
Why enlightening? The thing is that most of us have a little or a lot of weakness when it comes to eye function because we generally tend to ask our eyes to perform the same-same day in and day out. But we rarely notice these weaknesses let alone their effect on our body and mind. We rarely look to the eyes and say, "Gee, I guess those could be a contributing factor to my back pain."
For all the emphasis on eating healthy and exercising, most folks I talk to would never consider--and even scoff at--exercising their eyes to improve their emotional wellbeing and athletic performance. The fact is that the eyes deeply affect our posture, skill, and dynamism in every task. We don't expect that sitting in front of a computer or on a couch all day is good for our biceps, abs, leg muscles, etc. and we can all agree that getting up and moving around, playing games with those muscle groups, challenging them, and assessing them for fitness and flexibility is a good idea. So why would we think it would be any other way for the eyes? Those muscle and ligament suspended orbs of gooey electrical transmission need some love too!
Some real-world games to test your eye fitness (stop before you fatigue too much)*:
- Stabilize your gaze for 5-30 seconds on an unmoving object. Now do that with your eyes in a new position (left/right/up/down/diagonals).
- Flick your eyes back and forth between two objects for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Left-right-left-right-left-right.
- Stare straight ahead but focus your brain on what's happening in your periphery for 1 minute
- Hold your thumb in front of your nose and draw it into the nose's bridge and back out again--keep eyes on thumb nail, repeat
- Too easy? Try all of the above in any challenging pose. Stand on one leg, hold a squat, do reverse warrior one.
- Too hard? Sit down! Do a bite-size amount (like 3 reps) of only one of the above.
If any of these are hard, congratulations! You are now a more informed soul living in a body that desperately needs you to break your eyes free from their cage and chains. Check out the Z-Health Vision Gym for an excellent way to keep supporting one of your most vital bodily systems, or get some tailored sessions to assess, exercise, and enlighten your eyes.