Thursday, May 31, 2018

Practicing with contacts, drishti

It's been forever since I last posted on this blog. At least, it feels that way. But I think the following experience is worth sharing, and thus worth posting here.

A couple of days ago, I got fitted with a pair of contact lenses from my eye doctor. I have worn glasses since I was 8, and have never worn contacts before. But a few weeks ago, I got sick of my glasses always sliding down my nose. So I decided to take the plunge into wearing contacts at the ripe old age of 42. I'm slowly starting to get the hang of putting in and taking out the contacts, so it's slowly becoming less and less of a big production every time I have to take them out or put them in.

Small factoid: I discovered that if I take a slow, deep breath, and practice the movement of pulling my eyelids away from my eye before actually handling the lenses themselves, I get better results, i.e. the lens won't land in some weird corner of my eye instead of on my cornea (where they are supposed to be), and I won't have to use the eye plunger to fish it out. Which is very important for me, since I am still very new to this business of sticking things in my eye, and I try not to put more things in/on my eyes than is strictly necessary. I call all this the yoga of contact lenses :-)

My new friend the contact lens remover, aka eye plunger.

But I digress. The main thing I want to tell you about here is this. This morning, I tried doing my practice with my contacts for the first time. I did full primary to Laruga Glaser's video on Youtube:

 I really like her voice a lot, and she has this really powerful yet reassuring presence. Have any of you guys ever met her or taken classes with her? I am very open to taking a class/workshop with her if the opportunity arises. But I digress again. Back to my story: It was my optometrist that suggested practicing with contacts; he thinks that if I practice with contacts, there will be less eye strain than if I were to practice without any kind of visual aid at all, which is what I have been doing for the last six years. Basically, less eye strain = less prescription increase over time = better for me and my eyes.

To be honest, I was kind of apprehensive about his suggestion: What if my contacts fall out during practice, and I land on them and smash them?. But I decided to give it a try anyway. To my surprise, practicing with contacts actually improved the quality of my practice. I could see better. Which means I could focus my drishti better. As a result, the entire practice felt more focused and energizing. Which proves again that drishti makes a whole universe of difference to the practice. I was especially apprehensive about Sirsasana: Will my lenses stay in place when I am upside down? They did! To be sure, they don't focus so well when upside down (contact lens makers probably don't practice yoga), but they still focus well enough to see.  

All in all, I am very happy about my new ability to see without glasses, especially during practice. I stopped wearing glasses during practice six years ago, because Matthew Sweeney suggested to me that if I can't see so well during practice, it promotes pratyahara. Which may well be true, but perhaps this is a situation in which gaining drishti power more than makes up for whatever loss of pratyahara there might be, wouldn't you agree?