12.29 pondi for perfect eyesight

Disclaimer. It's been several years since I've written this post so please refrain from asking me about directions, how to contact them or what your experience will be like. And if you want to know if my vision improved, yes it did. Read below all the answers are there. I got into pondicherry midday yesterday and was on death's door. with two sleepless nights under my belt and a heavy cold, i flew at dawn, almost bursting my eardrums on the flight. after a 4 hour drive from chennai, with a stop in mahabalipurnam to boot, i finally made it to the sri aurobindo ashram's new guest house in pondi. at check-in i was in a state of hot, sweaty, runny nose, burning eyes, incredible ear pain, deeply blocked ears, headache, and exhaustion. utterly pitiful. i got my keys and then the guy at the check in told me that it was a 3km walk to the bazaar where i could buy a towel (the guest house has none)!

after studying the city map for a half hour and a change of clothes, i took off walking to explore pondi. not only did i find myself at the school for perfect eyesight, i checked in and did my introductory eye exam and first round of exercises. my body was in autopilot...

at the school for perfect eyesight...

located in a very nondescript building, the only way i recognized it was when i looked up to see people on the balconies with their eyes shut swinging from side to side. i checked in and proceeded to get my eyes examined.

the exam was different than the regular eye doc's. i was asked to look at some regular eye charts, then red, green and yellow lights, and backwards numbers in mirrors across the room. the place is totally outfitted for this - they must see hundreds of people each year.

the mind, the body, the heart... and vision
in my state, i knew i would do miserably - and i did. i had to explain how run-down i was feeling. what most people don't realise is that eyesight is a reflection of the entire physical and emotional health. your vision happens mostly in the brain, not the eyes. when the body's run down, eyesight will suffer slightly. when the body is in a good physical state, the mind is clear, and the heart is happy, vision is optimized. in my state, i was doing even worse than my whopping -6.50 and -5.75 prescription would have indicated. i was given a little yellow card indicating all sorts of activities and sent upstairs to begin my exercise regimen.

this may become a long post but as soon as i tell anyone what i'm doing with my eyes i get the inevitable question "what exercises do you do?". if you are one of these lovely people, and have not yet read the book i have told you to read, then continue on. this will de-mystify everything!

sunning (2m): while i usually got saline drops, the first day they started with a drop of honey in each eye. don't try this at home! it hurts like a bastard. then, i proceeded to the balcony, closed my eyes, feet hip-width apart, facing the sun and swung side to side for all below to see. and ridicule! this lasted to the count of 20.
this exercise is a good "yogic" warm up, using the warming and healing properties of the sun.

eye wash (2m): after the sunning, i took a small eye wash cup and wash out each eye. as much as i was looking forward to washing out the honey, my eyes just stung more with the introduction of the water! even with the saline, i never got used to it.
the exercise washes out foreign objects or impurities that may be lodged beneath the eyelids.

palming (10m): this is the most important exercise of all. sitting tall at the huge circular pillow-top table overlooking the sea, i rubbed my palms together to release the magical healing properties locked inside. i crossed one set of fingers in front of the other, and covered my eyes with my palms, elbows resting on the pillows in front of me and feet flat on the floor. i began deep breathing. this i did for 10 minutes.
this exercise relaxes your eye muscles, which are constantly being used and strained.

reading fine print (10m): following this, i went into a dark room where i lit a candle and read "diamond type print", which is very small. i read with both eyes, covered the right side after i read a third of the way through, and then switched and covered the left side for the last part. the content is always the same: a collection of quotes from sri aurobindo (founder of the ashram) himself. i made myself blink after each 3-5th word.

i emerged from the dark room to read the same fine print, in the same order with both eyes, then left and then right. only this time i read it in daylight.
this exercise keeps eyes in constant motion, improves memory, and encourages blinking

tennis ball (5m): this is a fun exercise where i bounce a tennis ball, making a V shape, from one hand to the other, following the ball with my eyes, and remembering to blink each time i catch the ball. then i had to do the opposite, throwing the ball from one hand to the other, so that it would cross me eye level as it went. i did each of these 40 times.
this exercise keeps the eyes in constant motion, while working on hand-eye coordination

bar swing (2m): i go back outside to the balcony where there are iron bars on one side, fairly close together. with feet shoulder-width apart, i sway from one side to the other, eyes moving across the bars in front of me.
this exercise improves the eye's natural saccatic movements

visualizations (5m): in the palming room, i go back and pick up a card with the OM mantra symbol and trace the lines as if i have a paintbrush on the end of my nose. i do this with my eyes shut, moving my head in the largest motions possible, i visualize the figure in bright red, then bright green, then bright yellow and finally bright blue.
this exercise improves the mind-eye coordination and improves the mind's ability to visualize

eye cooridination (2m): i hold a pen tip up to the end of my nose, and with both eyes on the tip, move the pen in one hand as far as my arm extends up and to the right, i blink and breathe, and slowly move the pen past my nose, switch hands and extend the pen tip as far down on my left side, still blinking breathing and with both eyes on the tip of the pen. i repeat the same in the opposite so that i am making a giant X shape. repeat three times.
this exercise coordinates both eyes - especially when one is stronger or dominates the other

eye chart (10m): i go downstairs and sit in front of an eye chart on the wall. i have a matching eye chart card in my lap. before starting, i close my eyes and think about things that make me happy. this releases anxiety that could arise from seeing eye charts (the feeling of going into an exam). when i start, i look at the largest letter on the card in my lap, blink three times, and find the same letter on the wall chart, blinking three times. this i continue with each letter in diminishing size on the card on my lap.
this exercise improves the eyes seeing power, memory, and recollection

vapour and cold pack (10m):i go back to the main floor, where there is a vaporizer emitting an earthy steam of vaporub and eucalyptus oil. i sit down at the vaporizer, head covered, and breathe deeply for 30 seconds. then go sit in a chair and someone puts wet gauze s over my closed eyelids. i sit, relax and breathe for a while.
this exercise relaxes your eyes after the regimen, much like "savasana" or "corpse pose" in yoga. helps to loosen tension in your eyes and body
so that's it! the entire regimen takes one hour and should be performed twice a day, in the same sequence.

at about 5pm i was done and free to go, my train wreck of a body somehow walked through pondicherry up to the market on nehru street: a hurlyburly pedestrian death-trap. i asked at three places before i found towels for sale. while normally i would be picky about this sort of thing (absorbency, colour, size, etc) i simply purchase a powder blue towel and walk back to the ashram guest house. it was about 7pm now so after a scrumptious dinner, i fetched some hot water in a bucket to shower with and jumped into bed!

on my first night in pondi, i slept like a sunken ship.


Unknown said...

I am a freelance journalist. I am currently working on the perfect eye sight therapy in pondicherry. Thank you for the information. Where these pictures taken by you? CAn I use the information and pictures?

Salima Pirani said...

Hi Sajini - sure please include a link back to this original blog post or provide a reference credit.