Sunday, October 11, 2009

Exercises for Improving Eyesight Naturally

Shaolin Kung Fu
In ancient China, Shaolin monks developed a fighting style based on the physical characteristics and iconic elements of the personality of the Tiger.  They called this Tiger style Kung-Fu.  Since a Tiger has very keen eyesight, the monks developed methods of exercising their eyes to improve thier eyesight.  These would have been exercises that they trained and developed from a very young age.  They would have been performed by eveyone training in the Tiger style regardless of whether they had so-called "20/20 vision".  No matter how good you are at something, you can aways become better with more training.

In today's age, we look at computer screens and through glass far too much.  I have been recently practicing the following exercises and have noticed an improvement in my eyesight over just the past couple months.

One exercise was to count the leaves on a far away tree.  With meditative patience they would focus in and count hundreds of leaves at a time.  (This is a good one to practice in the fall since the leaves are changing colors and you may be staring at leaves quite a bit anyway.)  Start up close with some leaves that are easy to make out and count 50 of them.  With patience, slowly pick trees that are farther away from you and then slowly increase the number of leaves you count.  Work your way up to 200 which will give you a good amount of time with your eyes focused at a distance.  Do this once daily.

Another exercise is to focus on an object very close to your face.  I usually choose my hand.  Get it as close to your eyes as you can while retaining a good focus on it.  Look at it for about 2-3 seconds after you've fully adjusted your focus on it, and then pick another object that is more than 20 feet away.  I generally pick a leaf on a tree or something else that has some fine detail that will allow me to really focus on finer and finer detail.  If you pick a flatt wall or something that doesn't have much texture or detail it will be hard to focus on.  Again, look at the object for 2-3 seconds after you have achieved a good focus.  Go back and forth between these two objects about 20 times and do this exercise daily.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Mysterious Snapping Friend

SNAPImage by Tojosan via Flickr

I just found out that one of my friends has been using echolocation her whole life. She assumed everybody could do it. She uses finger snapping.
It is actually fairly clean and I can navigate without bumping into too much stuff and with some speed.
This friend of yours does sound quite remarkable. I'd love to get a guest post from her on how she's been using it, why she started using it originally, and where she thinks it benefits her the most.

I tried snapping today and made a couple observations about it. First, it does seem to be pretty useful, it also gives you the ability to move your hand position around so that it is in front of your body or off to the side which blocks the sound from the opposite side of your body giving you resolution of whichever direction you choose as opposed to having to click with your tongue.

Another thing you can do is put your snapping hand out in front of your face and put your other hand between you and your snapping hand so that the initial sound is blocked from your ears and you only get the reverberations from the surroundings. This tends to bring out a little more clarity.

Not to mention that it is much more natural and socially acceptable than tongue clicking.
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Thursday, February 5, 2009

I crashed into my car the other day.

A parking lot with a diagonal parking pattern ...Image via Wikipedia

Parking lots, I have found, are among the best places to practice echolocation for a few reasons: the layout is always different (cars parked in different spots), there are generally not a lot of other distracting objects around, and cars are relatively easy to pick up. As I mentioned in a previous post, cars (or metal objects, I guess) do have a very distinct sound to them. It's got to do with the resonance of the metallic body. I will have to look into that further.

But yes, if you're going to practice echolocation, get used to crashing into things. Perhaps I should have said that before.. I crashed into my car the other day, but I guess it's good that is was my car.

I'm finding that depth perception is different when I use the "Blade Pop" (see here) compared to the "Giddyup". It seems that objects sound closer than they actually are when I use the Blade Pop. I've walked up to a wall thinking that I was about 6 inches away when I was actually a few feet away. I guess this is a good thing because I think it means that there will be better resolution. IE.: If I'm getting a lot of response from something that is 3 feet away (maybe the same response I would get at 6 inches with another click) then I can anticipate obstacles better.

Also, this would imply that objects that are very close would be very obvious. This seems not to be the case quite yet, at least for me. It seems that there is a big difference when an obstacle is approaching 3 feet, but that there is not a lot of difference within those last 3 feet. I guess it just takes practice.

I just got up and did a quick test and I'm starting to think that maybe a click can be too loud to sense objects that are close up. I walked up to a wall using the blade pop, but then softened it to a barely audible sound, not even a click, and found that it was much easier to judge the very close wall with much greater accuracy. Probably to within an inch instead of feet. I'll have to explore this some more.

As always, feel free to share your input.
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Inspiration, Ben Underwood Dies at age 16

Ben UnderwoodImage by ZacharyTirrell via FlickrBen Underwood died at age 16, buried on Jan 26th, what would have been his 17th birthday. Ben was the initial inspiration for this blog and opened my eyes, so to speak, to a whole new way of realizing the senses.

As a small child Ben was blinded by Retinoblastoma, a cancer in the eyes. But his total lack of vision did not prevent him from doing anything he enjoyed. He still had no fears of taking up biking, rollerblading, basketball, and he lived his life as any other kid would, and did not allow himself to by "handicapped" by his situation. He learned as a child that he could hear reflections of sounds that bounced off of surrounding objects. He devised a certain "click" that he could make to interpret the objects around him. He was full of ambition and made it his life's work to perfect these techniques. Many blind people have begun to use echolocation, but Ben's talent was remarkable and he was the only person (as far as I know) who could distinguish the difference between objects as small as a stapler and a coffee mug on the table.

As I said, Ben Underwood inspired this blog and I will continue it, not only as a means to capture my meandering experience, but also as a thank you and tribute to him.

Thank you for your inspiration Ben, and your contributions to mankind. They will live on forever.

If you would like to leave a message or give a donation to Ben's family, you can do so at his website:

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

I found my car in the parking lot using Echolocation!

Today I found my car in the parking lot using echolocation!

I was coming out of the gym this evening, and there was about 60 feet to walk to my car. I took a look around at the pattern of cars so I knew how many there were between me and my car, and I knew what to look for. I also had a straight shot between myself and the car, but I closed my eyes and committed to finding it. I began to click using the "blade pop" (see Description) I turned my head from side to side, because I'm finding that the blade pop is not very good at revealing objects to the sides of the head - the "giddyup" is much better at this. I made out the several cars before mine and I knew there was an empty spot before my car. I located the empty spot and anticipated my car. I heard it right when I expected it, passed to the driver's side and stopped when I found the space between the driver's side of the car and the large snow bank. I opened my eyes, and voila!

Maybe next time I'll try going for the door handle...

Free 10-Minute Audio Lesson: Learn the Echolocation Click

Learn echolocation clicks with a free audio lesson
Learning how to click is one of the first steps to becoming an effective echoloator. This lesson provides clicking samples of a variety of different clicks and descriptions of when they might be most useful. This lesson has been used by O&M instructors all over the world.

Despite popular belief, it's easy to make your clicking quite subtle or unnoticeable even in quiet settings. There are many different clicks for different situations. I explain all of these in great detail and give examples of where, why and when they can and should be used.

Get your free lesson now:

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