I Came to Ree a Skeptic
by CS Stolz, Somerville, MA, Sept. 17, 2013
I came to Ree a skeptic. I could focus five, no, four inches in front of my face and my vision was getting a little worse every year. Which had slowed down from getting a lot worse every year, starting with 20/200 vision and my first pair of glasses in the fourth grade, but still. But I liked Kundalini Yoga, and I kept seeing these “Kundalini for the Eyes” flyers around my yoga haunts. Eventually my curiosity overtook my skepticism and I took a Saturday off work and attended Ree’s workshop.
It was all fine and dandy, settling on yoga mats and such, until she told me to take off my glasses. I arrived late, and the spots by the windows were taken. No windowsills to put my glasses on. She gently suggested I put them over on the windowsill anyway. I refused, clutching my life preserver glasses to my chest, and tucked the earpiece over the front of my shirt vowing I’d keep them safe no matter how much yoga we did. I was attached to my glasses. I wore them every waking minute, unless I was under water. Even swimming.
What happened over the next two hours was nothing short of miraculous. We did a handful of different exercises to relax and stimulate the eyes and, by the end when I was “allowed” to put my glasses back on, they felt too strong. I was standing further back from the eye chart on the wall. I was slightly confused, and elated. And still highly skeptical. It wouldn’t last. It was just a temporary improvement. I’d need to keep doing two hours a day to see this kind of change stick around, and I just didn’t have that kind of time. Who does?
Nonetheless, I talked with Ree about my experiences after the workshop and she suggested I come in for some private sessions in her office. I liked her. I knew my severe myopia put me at greater risk for retinal detachment. I hated not being able to see my alarm clock. My friends were getting laser surgery, but the thought made my knees tremble. I made an appointment.
Coming into Ree’s office starts with taking off my glasses. No, wait, it starts with a warm greeting and a genuine smile. And then I take off my glasses. And now, after weeks of working with her, I am absolutely comfortable doing so. In fact, I spend time in my apartment, and my boyfriend’s, without glasses on, on a regular basis. Sure, I don’t see everything clearly, but I don’t always *need* to be seeing 20/20. Or 20/15, which is what I’ve always liked being corrected to. That’s part of what I’ve learned–becoming comfortable with what I can see, teaching my brain to interpret it better, and finding beauty in the blur.
We focus on different skills each week. Ree makes it feel light and playful–sometimes we utilize little toys to help focus at different distances, sometimes fun pictures to examine in detail, at length. Sometimes we meditate. And every single week I leave wearing old glasses.
I’ve learned how to massage my eyes. I listen to audiobooks now, instead of only reading, and do my eye exercises then. Just a few minutes a day, some days just some palming to relax. Sometimes I don’t even notice I’m doing them, using things out in the world around me to play “vision games.” It’s become part of my routine, a change in how I look at things, a sneaky mindfulness in my gaze.
Speaking of old glasses, I am wearing old glasses full-time now. My most recent old glasses, but still, a hugely REAL change. After several sessions with Ree, I had started getting headaches, and finally figured out they were from my “current” prescription! My eyes had CHANGED. I still have another pair of even older glasses, and those are what I leave my sessions with Ree wearing. I’d say something about baby steps and progress, but it really feels like huge leaps of change.
Now I’m looking for more ways to not wear my glasses–getting a larger clock at work so I can leave them off sometimes during my day, walking with the pinhole glasses that allow me to see more clearly without corrective lenses and relax my eyes at the same time, or with no glasses at all when I feel safe doing so. Me, the girl who wouldn’t take her glasses off. And I notice all the beautiful things I can see, and let my brain help fill in the words on the bike path sign when the edges are fuzzy. I’ve just learned that my mother is having trouble with her eyes, and is looking at a corrective surgery for a problem I’d never heard of. I’m so grateful that I know now how to prevent the deterioration of my vision and hopefully avoid these kind of complications in the future. And of course, I’m asking Ree for advice for my mom (who lives much too far away to come in for her own appointment). So thanks, Ree. You’ve helped me change and grow and heal. And not just my eyes.