Some of you have asked, how do we take care of our eyes and how do you incorporate Reiki into it? (Reiki is touched on nearing the section on eye care routine at the end) Although I may have shared with you verbally in passing on how I do my simple self-care which you may pick from and practice, what works for each of us can be very individual since it also largely depends on personal preferences towards certain routines, individual condition, your own exploratory journey and all. To give it its due attention, I am writing my first post under the 'Self-Care' series to share in more detail, the brief philosophy behind why I do what I do for my eyes and how it is done (yes with pictures, woohoo!).
*Note*: If you are only keen on my eye care routine, simply scroll all the way to the bottom and skip this long granny story.
My philosophy behind a relatively disciplined self-care lies in my personal understanding of Life and our physical body. Since the experience of life here is gifted to us via a physical body and our physical senses, appropriate care and attention should be given to ensure this body does not hinder our pursuits towards the Unlimited; if I am given this body to use for my current lifetime, I want to ensure at a minimum, it does not hinder my experience of life and as much as possible, to use the body fully to experience Life to its fullest. In other words, do not let your body become an obstacle to accomplishing what you want to do. The reasons to why the condition of a certain body part has become far from your defined ideal can hail from way back and shall not be discussed. What is important is that you work with it appropriately now and take proper care of it presently. Forget about that past or future. If it is signalling for attention now, it needs attention now. That said, self-care is not only physical or purely exercise. It extends to the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects. For the purpose of this post, I am only going to touch on the physical; our body, our eyes.
<A little on my eyes story; >
While I have always been perfectly healthy, my eyes have bothered me for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it was partly genetics and from less-than-ideal reading habits, I was short-sighted at a young age. However, along my growing up years, I was increasingly certain that they were calling for attention and help. They became progressively, constantly and consistently exhausted and dry that at times, interfered with my fast-paced life then. Does not help that the optometrist dropped a shadow bomb on me (Boo!) almost a decade ago that my eyes had relatively high intraocular pressure then that may potentially worsen into early-age glaucoma. Hmm, fat checks! I knew I had to do something about it.
When your physical eyes aren’t rested after extended periods of near-work and signs of exhaustion, your muscles tense up. Particularly around the temples, forehead, jaw and neck. Vision may become a little blurry or you can’t focus on a point. You know it when you talk to a friend or a colleague in front of you but oh hey! he looks sooooo distant like alien and its hard to look at him say, in his eyes while trying to ignore that slight headache creeping up. Some of you may have different signs, but these are signals that are all-too-familiar with me.
How often do we take our gift of healthy eyes and vision for granted, that we pay no attention to signs they have been giving us to prompt us to rest until the exhaustion manifests into an injury or illness?
I take any opportunity I have to rest my eyes (since their endurance at any one time is relatively short and exceeding it increases my downtime), which translates to being habitualised to sleeping on (public) transport even while standing.
Common eye care precautions such as the below are basics which I presume you would have come across and already in knowledge of. For brevity, the basic eye care precautions and tips shall be covered in brief. There are so many amazing tips and research work many people have shared out there hence I will simply highlight a few I am more mindful about.
Reduce screen time (have only ever played mobile games once in my life, when I got my first smartphone many years back; they zapped out my eye batteries reallllyy fast, *gulps*)
-Reduce use of contact lenses (the time period I get to wear contacts is short. Hence they are only worn for sports and special occasions as appropriately or needed.)
Reduce high exposure of eyes to ultraviolet rays (well, other than staying shaded, a trouble I often had was wearing sunnies over my glasses. Laughs!)
Drink sufficient water (note that the key word here is 'sufficient'; sufficient does not mean 'more'; drinking too much water may not necessary have visible benefits. Also, about 75% of our body is made up of water. Which part of our logical mind tells us that our eyes will be hydrated if we only drink a few sips a day or that our tears has an infinite supply? Hmm. *runs to pantry now*)
Practise appropriate hygiene (hands, eyes) and stop rubbing eyes! (this cute act not only ups your likelihood of getting fine lines around your delicate eye area and infections, it also ups the eye pressure!)
Blink more!! (blinking lubricates eyes…we tend to forget to blink when concentrating on near-work)
Take regular eye breaks and look far (Contra it. Did near work? Just look far. Cook an excuse to go poo poo or take your granny time to fill your cup. You are entitled to BREAKS my dear.)
Look at greens (When you look far, rest your gaze on those big tall trees. Better if you step out for a walk under sunshine, shady leaves and on grass. Neutral tones soothe and calm the eyes and the mind.)
Eat well (needless to say)
I started and have practised my eye care routine daily without fail for more than eight years. It has been improvised along the way according to my eye condition and when I picked up valuable tips from a teacher, guru or simply a magazine. This is in no way a panacea but simply my current daily routine before bedtime and a personal recipe that I would like to share with you (I do not claim any rights to the individual ingredients). I’ve put together pieces along the years to suit my eyes, direct and practical as I like it, and repeat this routine within the day whenever I want to freshen up.
Wait. What about those heated eye masks? Cool cucumber slices? They are also great alternatives to soothe the eyes temporarily or for aesthetics but do not target the issue deeply enough. Furthermore, I know I do not have the budget to spend on the daily eye masks or the discipline to go through the trouble of wet cucumber slices sliding on my clothes every time. Ask yourself too if you will consume that long cucumber left in your fridge every week when you have only spared a few slices from it for your eyes.
You may have realised at this point that I have not yet spoken about Reiki in this post. Reiki did not come into my eye care journey until a few years back and has supported tremendously since then in my personal growth by targeting the root and in revitalising my eyes that nothing else has. When I got attuned to Reiki some years back, I thought, why not add this wonderful energy to the last step of my eye care routine? It’s so straightforward! And here you go:
Are you ready for the eye-care? (finally, you think! Laughs..don’t worry, it’s not a rollercoaster ride) If you find any parts helpful, feel free to take them with you, whether or not you are a Reiki practitioner!
For practicality, I do this before bedtime while lying down, so that if I happen to fall asleep, I just let it be. Although it is pretty common sense, please do the entire routine close-eyed. You don’t want to poke your eyeballs. It is also ideal to turn off the lights so the light does not distract you and you can sleep immediately afterwards.
Step 1: Pressing Acupressure Points around Eyes to Release Tension
This quick and simple routine is broken down into a few parts. You may refer to the photos above which I have taken of myself doing it to get an idea. (not the best quality but I did my best...haha)
A. Firstly, you release the tension built up in your temples. Use both thumbs to rub your temples in a circular motion. Direction does not matter but naturally, I do it clockwise for my right and anti-clockwise for my left. After every few rounds of rubbing, dig or press your thumbs into the temples. I do this set for about 1-2mins.
B. With thumbs fixed at your temples still, move the second joint/knuckles of your index fingers up against your (eye)brow bone. Starting from the inner sides near the nose, push your index finger knuckles up against the brow bones, one point by one point and maintain that pressure at each point for a few seconds or for however long you like it. Then slowly move to the next point as you move towards the outer corners of your brow bones and repeat. After which, do a sweeping motion with the same pressure from the inner to outer corners of your brow bones (always inner to outer; lift up knuckles, repeat sweeping motion) then with momentum, move those knuckles with the same pressure, into the temples, rub in circular motions then dig into it (blending in Step A) and close off Step B in this way. Repeat as many times as you like. I do this set for 1-2mins.
C. Next, use the tip of either your middle or ring finger and lightly tap the area below your eyes (basically your dark eye rings or your eye bags area). I like to do this starting from inner to outer, then back from outer to inner and repeat. This helps circulate the blood flow at these areas and may also reduce the intensity of your dark eye rings. Using the ring finger which is weaker reduces possibilities of increasing fine lines or wrinkles, just like when you apply eye cream onto that area. Don’t use the index finger; it’s too strong. If you feel like it, you may press into the bone below the centre of your eyes (about one inch below your eye socket). I do this set for 1-2mins.
These few steps stem from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice on acupressure. You may look into it over google or texts if you are keen, but don’t ask me for details such as the names (I’m not a TCM practitioner and as long as I know what works for me, the names are not important.)
Step 2: Palming
Immediately after Steps A, B and C above, rub your palms together to generate heat from friction and place it gently onto your closed eyelids without pressure. The warmth soothes and relaxes the eyes. This is a yogic practice.
Step 3: Rolling Eyeballs in Figures of Eight
While palming, start rolling your eyeballs in figures of eight. Do this slowly by moving both eyeballs together either up or down first, then sideways and back like the number 8. This works on exercising your eye muscles which we tend to neglect. Some people like to do this separately and open-eyed; it is fine, pick what suits you. :) This is simply my personal preference which I find combining them all in this sequence to be extremely convenient and I become dizzy when I do this eyeball-rolling open-eyed anyway. Repeat this as many times as you like. The key is to do it slowly and gently. I do this set for 1-2mins.
Step 4: Reiki Healing
This step can be omitted for non-Reiki practitioners. This is a traditional form of energy healing. After you are done rolling your eyeballs, continue to settle your palms on your closed eyelids for as long as you like. The guideline is a minimum of 15 minutes as is a typical Reiki booster session. For a deeper healing session, you are advised to do a minimum of one hour; you may change positions as you like. Since Reiki flows automatically from your palms, it has actually already started flowing since beginning Step 2 or before, if your palms are close enough. The warmth (the most common sensation people feel) from your palms feel different from the one generated from palming in Step 2 and it should get you deeply relaxed and asleep in no time!
For Reiki 1 practitioners, leave your palms there for about 15 minutes. You may like to turn on your Reiki bells, but since your eyes are now in a relaxed mode, you may not want to stimulate it with blue light with your mobile again. If you are not sure how long 15 or 60 minutes are, don’t worry. Just leave it there until you fall asleep and wake up to a new day.
For Reiki 2/3 practitioners, leave one palm on your eye and use the other to draw all Reiki symbols (in the sequence you have learnt) onto your forehead then place it back once done. If you prefer, you may also visualise it without lifting a hand. You may intention it to your eyes or to your 12 body positions + your eyes (as I like to do it); entirely optional. This enhances the Reiki flow to your eyes.
I typically start my daily hour-long self-Reiki from this point onwards, beginning with my eyes or face. If you would also like to do an hour treatment from this point onwards, you may want to turn on your Reiki bells to clock the 5-min-intervals for you. I also downloaded and turned on the blue light filter (before the whole routine), so it is easier on my eyes when you use your phone to turn the bells on.
If you are those who tend to fall asleep with Reiki, find a comfortable position and sit up. If you are those who can’t sleep after getting Reiki, you may consider skipping Step 4 and do your self-Reiki in the morning, or just simply do the entire eye-care routine in the morning. The whole routine takes me less than 10 minutes (excluding Step 4 Reiki), which is extremely doable for anyone. If you are short on time, just forget about the repetitions. It would probably take you less than 5 minutes then.
How do you ensure you do it every day/night?
A direct way is to ask yourselves if you want your eyes to continue serving you all the way every day/night to their best ability, and especially if you can relate to my story, your answer is likely to be a Yes. Asking yourself this question helps you rethink your priorities and how you allocate time for eye usage. A majority of us have overused our eyes in today’s world, alternating from small screens and big screens constantly in a single day and not getting enough rest. Anything in excess hardly contributes to a positive result. A few minutes of eye tension release every night can go a long way.
Of course, if you have a more serious case of eye exhaustion or even specific eye conditions, you may have other work to do as suggested by your doctor. Don’t skip that; these exercises above are not medical replacements of any sort.
On top of this, I have a cool shower (I take it with no heating, due to the tropical climate in Singapore, but in winters overseas, you may like to do it with lower heating lest you freeze!) for about 5mins every night before bedtime. This hits a few birds with one stone. It not only helps me to sleep better, I have also felt my blood circulation improving after alternating from my warm shower before and soothes my skin and hair, making them easier to manage. Specifically for eye care, I spray the shower nozzle gently onto each eye for about half a minute (repeat as you like), which gives my eyes a good short massage. There are definitely other and more exercises shared by physicians or experts etc. to release tension in the neck, mouth and head that help in this aspect, which can easily be obtained through the blessings of the internet or your acquaintances. Information is so much more available now than a decade ago that we may even have issues with information overload, much less talk about commit to multiple self-care routines daily. So if you don't know where to start, a basic guideline is to find one that you are comfortable with and gives you results without taking up too much of your time and effort to ensure you can at least commit to it and experiment for a period of time to find out if it works for you.
My eyes are definitely not in the same state as they were a decade ago. Although much stronger and brighter now, they still do become exhausted; they are not unicorns! I hope you find this post useful and helpful to your road on improving your well-being and providing some inspiration to your personal self-care and healing journey. If you have any great tips on eye care that you have been practising and/or you've tried the recipe I pulled together or adapted it, you may share with us at the comments section below too! ;)
To learn Reiki, head over to my Reiki classes page to learn more.