|A strange question, huh? Do you wonder why I’m asking?|
I was reading a 1981 booklet on functional anatomy by Irene Dowd that combined her interest in anatomy and dance. Two of her dance students
complained of almost constant neck pain and stiffness even though their postures seemed fine. She noticed that both of the
students tended to hold their heads and necks stiffly as they moved. She further noticed that their eyes were held with the
same rigidity. She decided to work first with freeing their eye movements. As a result, their cervical spines loosened and
their pain lessened.
Try this: Rest your fingers on the back of your neck near the base of your skull. Move your eyes back and forth from one side
to the other. See if you can feel the corresponding, subtle movements in your neck muscles. Try varying the pressure and position
of your fingers.
Keep your fingers in the same place while you focus hard on some point in front of you. Let your eyes “grab” the object. Do you
notice how you tend to squint, frown and tip your head up and forward? Notice how your neck muscles tighten.
While continuing to look at the focal point, try letting your eyes soften until they feel like they are suspended midway in
the sockets. Notice that you can still see the focus point. And notice that your neck muscles have loosened.
Many of us spend hours of the day focusing harder than we need to at work and, alas, even during social occasions. Our necks
stiffen, our temples become tender, our heads often hurt.
What to Do
When you notice your eyes getting stuck in the grabbing position, try relaxing your jaw. Yep, your jaw. Because of the close
connections throughout your head and neck, when your jaw muscles relax, the muscles of your eyes, head and neck will also tend
Relax your jaw by letting it gently drop open. To keep from catching flies and looking odd, keep your lips together. During
the day notice when you tighten your jaw unnecessarily. Let it relax.
Here’s another suggestion for when you have more time and privacy:
1) Lie comfortably on your back on the floor or a firm bed. You might want a cushion under your knees and/or behind your neck.
2) With your eyes closed, very slowly move your eyes to the left and then very slowly return to center. Rest and take a breath.
Repeat to the same side. Notice if the movement is smoother. Repeat again to the same side, resting as you return to center.
3) Repeat the movements to the right three times. Remember to keep the movements very slow and to stop for a full breath when
returning to center.
4) From the center position, slowly move your closed eyes to the left, back through center and on to the right and back to center.
Rest for a breath. Do this two more times. Rest for a full breath.
5) Repeat step 4 except move your eyes to the right first.
6) Very slowly move your closed eyes upward and then slowly return to center. Rest and take a breath. Repeat two more times.
7) Very slowly move your closed eyes downward and then slowly return to center. Rest and take a breath. Repeat two more times.
8) From the center position, slowly move your closed eyes upward, back to center, downward and back to center. Rest for a breath.
Do this two more times. Rest for a full breath.
9) Repeat step 8 except move your eyes downward first.