When I go to vision therapy, I love how supportive these folks are. They tell me to breathe. They constantly pay attention to my breathing. And my stress level. They tell me when to palm (to slow down my (trachea?)) to calm my breathing and help my body know it's in a safe place. Today, my vision therapist had me working with blocks.
[The photo has disappeared. I will need to photograph it again at some point & replace the photo that was here in the original blog post.]
It was my task to line these up in a certain way, on this cork board. He was checking out my cross-body coordination, manual dexterity and some other things. When he had me stacking on the white blocks, he told me to "go faster." (I was doing a specific task, arranging the blocks.)
My breathing got faster and I felt pressured to perform well. He told me that my vision narrowed when I was searching for the correct "next block." This, he said, was tunneling. I was feeling frantic in my body and my vision narrowed as if I was looking through a cardboard tube.
For the next half of the test, he had me doing the same thing. This time he told me I didn't have to rush at all. He told me to take my time. After I did one or two, he told me to try to take in the whole board instead of just scanning 1 block at a time. I gave myself permission to put the blocks on and straighten them as I did the exercise.
After it was over, he asked me how it felt. "What was different?" He asked. I had felt more calm. He had kept pointing out for me to breathe (I love when they do that), and had helped me stay calm and focussed as I did the exercise.
He then pointed out that my arms had been in constant motion pretty much. Whereas before, when I was tunneling and stressed, I kept stopping and starting. When I was calm and breathing and just trying to do a good job, but take my time at it, I was actually much more efficient. My body kept moving.
The way he described it felt like a Thai Chi exercise - fluid movement from the center of our body. I don't know if that is how Thai Chi is spelled. If someone lets me know, I will fix it. I don't even know if that is the definition of it. But, it's how I understood what he was saying when he was talking about my constant, calm motion, as opposed to my frantic "start and stop" motion.
As I remember to stay calm and teach my body that it's safe, I will be able to tunnel less, and be able to teach my brain how to sort things better. I will gain larger pictures instead of narrow pictures. And so many things should become a lot more clear and easier to understand.
Thank you for following along on this journey with me. If you would like to order these blocks on Amazon dot com, this is what they look like. I will post a link when I find them on Amazon. I feel like these blocks would be a wonderful tool for a wide variety of people. They are versatile and can be used to do many kinds of tasks. I bet they would be great in a preschool or Kindergarten situation too.