Our eyes are constantly absorbing the world around us. Whether we’re reading a book or driving a car, they’re tirelessly at work to help us make sense of reality.
Although our eyes are one of our smallest organs, they are extremely complex with many intricate parts. With each tiny movement of the eyes, there are numerous muscles working with stunning precision to ensure that our world stays in focus.
Unlike other parts of our body, our eyes often don’t get a lot of attention when it comes to self care. For example, a lot of people go to the gym to exercise their arms and legs, but how often do you hear people talking about doing eye exercises?
Just because most personal trainers don’t teach eye exercises doesn’t mean they aren’t important. In fact, our eyes are one of the busiest parts of our body, so it only makes sense to take care of them so they can continue doing their job well.
In this post, we’ll discuss the eyes from a Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong perspective, as well as share four simple yet powerful exercises that you can do at home to help cultivate healthy eyes.
A Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong Perspective on Eye Health
In Chinese Medicine and Qi Gong, every sense organ is related to one of the Five Elements. The eyes are connected to the Wood Element, which is also connected to the liver.
The wood element embodies the qualities of strength and flexibility—two key components for healthy eyes. When the wood element is healthy within us, our eyes can easily adjust and adapt to the various views before us.
The wood element is also associated with the season of Spring and the characteristic of expansiveness. As the world emerges from the depths of winter, both humans and animals embrace the energy of rebirth and a renewed inner and outer vision for the future. Of course, our eyes are an important part of outer vision.
Because the eyes are connected to the liver, it’s common for conditions in the liver to manifest in the eyes. For example, if a person drinks too much alcohol, the excess heat in the liver will cause the eyes to turn red.
In addition, our daily behaviors and activities can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of our eyes. When our eyes are exposed to a variety of images and views, they have a chance to exercise, allowing them to cultivate strength and flexibility. However, if we spend too many hours staring at a single object (such as a computer screen), they can become tired and depleted.
At Holden QiGong, we’ve received a lot of questions over the last year about vision and eye health.Because of the Pandemic, most of us are spending far more time at home in front of our computers and smartphones. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many of us are experiencing eye issues.
Modern technology certainly makes a lot of things easier, but it also has a tendency to pull us away from our natural way of life. Our ancestors didn’t need to think about whether or not they were spending too much time in front of screens or getting enough exercises. However, with all of our modern conveniences come a personal responsibility to make choices that serve our health and wellbeing.
When it comes to cultivating healthy eyes, there are a few simple exercises that help to strengthen our eyes and increase their flexibility. Even though some of these exercises are used beyond the Qi Gong community, we still call them “Qi Gong” practices because they work with the energy of the eyes on both a physical and energetic level.
All four of these exercises can be practiced in just a few minutes, making them excellent tools for everyday life, especially when you find yourself in front of your computer for long periods of time.
Like all of the exercises we share, we suggest that you read through the instructions before beginning your practice.
Four Exercises to Cultivate Healthy Eyes
Start by sitting or standing in a position you find comfortable.
In this first exercise, you’re simply going to look to the left and right ten times while keeping your head in the same position. Allow your eyes to go all the way to the right, and then all the way to the left. You can move your eyes at whatever speed you prefer but just make sure it feels comfortable and isn’t causing pain.
After you’ve looked right and left ten times, do the same thing except vertically. Move your eyes up and then down. Each “up and down” movement is one set. Complete ten sets and then relax.
In the second exercise, you’re going to move your eyes in a big circle. Do this ten times and then change direction. By the end of this exercise, you will have done ten full circles in the clockwise direction, and ten full circles in the counterclockwise direction. As with the previous exercise, you can move your eyes at whatever speed you prefer as long as you feel comfortable and aren’t experiencing any pain.
For the third exercise, start by holding your finger about twelve inches in front of your face. Then, pick an object that is at least twenty feet away. If you’re sitting next to a window, perhaps find a tree or mountain off in the distance. The object can certainly be more than twenty feet; twenty feet is just the minimum.
Now, alternate your vision between the distant object and the finger in front of your face. For example, look at the distant object for two seconds and then look at your finger for two seconds. The idea is to exercise your eyes so they get used to focusing at both close at far distances. Do this ten times, making sure that your eyes feel comfortable and aren’t experiencing pain.
For the last exercise, if you wear glasses, you’ll want to take them off before starting.
Now, start rubbing your hands together so they cause friction and generate a bit of heat. This should be an invigorating exercise that charges your hands with energy and warmth. After about fifteen to twenty seconds, stop rubbing your hands together and put them over your eyes — your right hand over your right eye and your left hand over your left eye.
As you put your hands over your eyes, imagine your hands transmitting nourishing and healing energy to your eyes. Allow your eyes to receive the warmth and experience a feeling of vitality. Keep your hands over your eyes for a few moments as you relax and take some deep breaths. Whenever you’re ready, release your hands, open your eyes, and continue enjoying your day.
If you’re interested in learning more exercises to cultivate the Wood Element and eye health, be sure to check out our pre-recorded Qi Gong for Spring Workshop.
Pre-Recorded Online Qi Gong for Spring Workshop
The season of Spring invites us to harness the qualities of growth, transformation, creativity, and abundance.
In the world around us, nature is reawakening after the long winter. It’s a time when new life is born and opportunities emerge. For humans, we can learn from this energy and allow it to manifest in our own lives.
At Holden QiGong, we have a special, pre-recorded workshop that teaches powerful practices specifically designed to cultivate the qualities of Spring. Like all of Lee’s teaching experiences, he integrates both spoken lessons and experiential Qi Gong exercises so students can gain a full understanding of the ancient practice.
The season of Spring is ripe with opportunities to grow and transform. Click on the link below to learn more and start practicing today.