Be The Support You Seek
Meir Schneider was born blind, yet he found ways to heal himself and offer that opportunity to others.
We tend to think of healing as a personal, individual process. It is all too common to think, “I am sick, I need to get well.” However as individuals we are part of a much larger system. Our family, our community, our society, and our world are all deeply reliant on each other in just the same way as our liver is reliant on our heart and our heart on our breath. Whether our personal healing process is mental, physical, spiritual or all three, understanding our place and how to best use our support systems is fundamental in maintaining the strength and tenacity required to heal.
As we move forward in this millennium amidst the breakdown of traditional family roles and definitions, it is my hope that we continue to see the importance of community and support in our personal development and recovery, and that we understand how to find support when it may not be so apparent as an attentive spouse or family.
My whole family modeled this reality for me since I was very young. My parents were deaf, but with each other’s support, they traveled the world and lived more fully and freely than most hearing people. Indeed, they were able to deal with their disabilities better than anyone could imagine. For instance, if my father needed a plumber, he would walk to the plumber’s shop, hold the plumber by the hand, and gently pull him for about five or six blocks to our home and show him the problem — all without being able to explain the exact trouble to him.
My mother displayed similar dedication. Often, she would try to talk to me by calling me from the photograph shop that my father worked in. Not knowing exactly when I would pick up the phone, she would repeat the same message fifteen times or more. In ways like these, we managed as a very handicapped family to go about our business and live happy lives.
My point is this: with support, nearly anything is possible in the world of healing. Certainly some illnesses and diseases are permanent, but the effect they have on us can be limited by our dedication to one another and our creative ways of coping. With the help of our loved ones, we can continue to enjoy life to its fullest.
While it may be possible for some highly individualistic people to set their minds and actions toward healing all by themselves, the truth is almost universally the opposite. Overcoming our burdens is a difficult and treacherous path; just a word or two of encouragement from our loved ones goes a long way toward keeping us marching on the path to our recovery. Being humble enough to accept support and help when we need it can make the difference between success and failure.
In my case, my troubles centered on my eyes. I was born with congenital eye diseases, and so were both my children. All of us were given impossible odds at living a normal life and promised we would be mostly or completely blind. Yet today we all are able to see and enjoy life to the maximum. Despite the occasional setback or flair up, we support each other as we move forward, and it is a great treasure to understand one another’s conditions and work on them together.
Some of us aren’t blessed with a supportive, understanding family, or even a family at all. In that case, we should still continue down our paths seeking the support we need. Healing can take years or a lifetime, and in that time we may find support from strange and unexpected places.
I don’t know your personal condition or situation, but I do know there is always some sort of help available. Often it is as simple as calling a holistic health practitioner, your counselor, an understanding doctor, or other support professional. Sometimes it is a matter of calling a friend to talk, or reaching out into the community for support groups or public therapy. Sometimes, we have to be even more creative, as we might have other obstacles to overcome or even mockery from our peers.
I was born legally blind, with the understanding that blindness is a permanent affliction. The world of holistic health was not well developed in my youth, still, I was always optimistic and believed I could improve. My outlook plus the support I was gifted by my family worked together to create my personal healing miracle — but it was not without resistance from others.
Reducing Eye Tension And Vision Problems
In high school, I met a kid who taught me eye exercises known as the Bates Method that I believed could help me. I spent between 13 and 16 hours a day through high school doing these exercises with full faith. Even when the result was bad grades, I knew what I needed to do.
It was around that time I learned that eye problems usually stem from severe tension around the eyes. A technique called palming is the simplest, most universally effective eye exercise available to reduce this tension. Simply find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, support your arms with pillows, and gently cover your eyes with your palms to block out light.
From there, picture pure blackness or a deep blue, and breathe deeply and smoothly. This process tells the optic nerve that it’s time to relax. At first you may see flashes of color or even images while your eyes are closed; this is a symptom of an overactive optic nerve. In just a few minutes, your optic nerve will relax and the images and colors will fade. Stay in this position for at least six minutes at a time, but very long sessions of ten hours or more can also provide tremendous benefit. Palming can’t be overdone.
Whether you sit, lie, or stand, there are three things to avoid while palming:
- Avoid raising your shoulders toward your ears.
- Avoid putting pressure on the cheekbones or the eyes.
- Avoid wrenching your neck.
Following these guidelines keeps tension down and allows palming to have a maximally beneficial effect. Remember that relaxation is the goal.
The benefits of covering the eyes with the hands go far beyond a momentary rest. These benefits are cumulative and multiply exponentially, so that ten minutes of rest for the eyes is much more than ten times as good as one minute. Palming is so simple and natural that many people have a hard time understanding how good it is, although it is recognized as an important exercise in yoga, in Tibetan Kum Nye exercise, and in Chinese eye exercise. With the help of palming and other exercises, my vision healed from one percent of normal to four percent of normal, and everybody was amazed when I could identify them by their figure.
Today I see much more than four percent; in fact, I’m seeing closer to seventy percent. I can legally drive, I can write, I can read — all things those around me as a child believed I could never do. My children were also born with severe eye problems, and today they see just fine. After all, they had the support of a father that believed they could learn to see, and showed them how to palm. Even with all the support my parents could muster with their disabilities, I started as a struggling teenager isolated from my peers. I was isolated because I was blind, and then I was isolated because I believed in myself and my exercises, when no one else did.
Over the years my vision improved and I helped others overcome serious illnesses, wounds, and disabilities. At times, I have enjoyed great support and at other times great adversity. I look for support where I can, appreciate and commend the good people of my life, and know when to fight and when to walk away. All of these traits are very important in learning to see or in healing overall.
Perhaps you know how it feels when others don’t see validity in your work or they mock you or tease you for your process. Many times the very people that should be supporting us are the ones causing upset. As we move forward on our paths, it is our responsibility to reach out to one another, accept the support and love that is offered to us, and use creative means to find whatever it is we need. Healing is a dynamic, complex process, and by being the support we wish to have, it is within our power to help others that may have lost hope.
An internationally respected therapist and educator, Meir Schneider, PhD, is the founder and director of the School for Self-Healing in San Francisco and the author of many books. As a healthcare visionary, he continues to develop his unique therapeutic system for healing a variety of visual disorders often considered beyond medical help. Visit www.self-healing.org.