Monday, September 29, 2014

Removing Tension from the Eyes: Ocular Muscles and Eyelashes

Here I describe three techniques, a method for releasing tension in the ocular muscles that control eye movements, and a method for releasing tension in the eyelids. We hold a lot of tension around our eyes as well, and I have previously written about how to remove tension from the orbicularis oculi muscles here.
I am convinced that we all hold pent up tension in the ocular muscles that sit behind our eyes, within the orbits, and turn our eyes up and down, left and right. I would venture to say that in anxiety and in disorders like schizophrenia, the eyeballs might be tighter than in the average population. This puts a frantic pressure on smooth eye pursuit and normal saccades, disturbing movements that should be calm and effortless. This tension in the ocular muscles may in turn exacerbate anxiety, headaches, and chronic pain. Here is how I stretched my ocular muscles and definitely found a release. In fact, this exercise hurts at first, but after doing it for a minute every day over the course of two weeks, the pain went away completely. You basically want to place your forefingers on the four corners of your eyes and press in while looking around. For example, while placing your fingers on the bottom left of your eyeballs and pressing up and to the right, you will find that you feel the biggest stretching sensation while you are looking up and to the right. If you place your fingers directly above each eye and press down, you will feel the biggest stretch when you look upwards. The basic idea is to put gentle pressure on the eyeball, displacing it a few millimeters from its normal location, stretching the ocular muscles and enhancing the stretch by looking around. Please be very careful while doing this. I imagine that it would be easy to strain these tiny ocular muscles. Moreover, it is probably important to do this stretch while breathing deeply or diaphragmatically to obtain the best results. A final thing that you can do is to use your thumbs to put pressure on the place where your superior ocular muscle anchors in the orbit. You will find a tiny patch of sore connective tissue just above and medial to each eye. Mine were incredibly sore at first, but with a little bit of compression and massage, this will go away.
Next, we will focus on releasing some tension in the eyelids. The tips of my eyelids used to hurt, and if I did not sleep well for one night, they would turn bright red or purple. This is because I was overusing them. The muscle tone in these tiny muscles was too high. The idea is to massage/compress them with a simple squeeze, forcing the muscles to stop, contracting and allowing them to adjust and diminish their muscle tone. In the shower, use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the outside of your eyelids, providing a gentle squeeze. You can do this to the top and bottom eyelids. Hold and squeeze the eyelids all over, especially close to the eyelashes. Be very careful, make sure you are calm, breathing deeply, and make sure your hands are clean. After doing this for 30 seconds a day for two weeks, I found that my eyelids were no longer reddish and that they did not feel tense anymore.
The bottom eyelid is actually difficult to pinch in this way. In order to compress and relax the muscles here, it helps to actually get one finger inside the eyelid. I wear a rubber glove and pull the bottom eyelid out by the eyelashes. With the forefinger of the other hand, I reach inside the eyelid and grab it. Again, the forefinger is inside the eyelid and the thumb is outside it, pinching together. You can shift your pinch from one side of the bottom lid to the other. The first time I did this, I could feel the tension here. The next morning, my eyes felt relaxed, and my lower lid was dramatically smaller. This is because the inflammation from overused muscles had subsided. Try it!