For many glaucoma patients, a vacation can present an opportunity to do some good thinking, maybe reflect on our direction in life or mentally solve some important questions that have been in the back of our mind but ignored because of our busy schedules.
On my own recent vacation I started thinking about new career directions. And yesterday I received a phone call from a good friend of mine who was vacationing on a tropical island. He told me all about swimming in the ocean, jogging on the beach and eating healthy food. All of it sounded fun, relaxing and healthy. But he was perplexed by one thing -- his intraocular pressure was going up in spite of being on a relaxing vacation in a tropical paradise.
I observed a similar thing on my own month-long vacation. For a couple weeks I could not figure it out. I was sure I was not under stress and I was doing all the things that usually keep my IOP very low. Finally, I did discover the answer -- and my eye pressure quickly returned to my usual low levels. So I gained some valuable experience and insights as a result of this challenging situation, and my data was very clear.The results agreed exactly with many past experiences, so my entire history of self-tonometry research informed my conclusions. However, I doubt I would have ever discovered the cause of my rising vacation-time IOP -- because it was very confusing at the time -- if I had not seen so many pieces of the puzzle in my years of prior self-tonometry work. This case took some real detective work to resolve. I was baffled for weeks, quite unlike Sherlock Holmes.
In yesterday's phone call with my friend, I drew on this experience. I asked my friend some detailed questions about what he was doing each day. At first, there was nothing obvious in his activities. But from experience, I had an idea of what I was looking for. After a little more casual discussion, my friend eventually told me that he was in the midst of making "important decisions" about "the big issues" in his life. Bingo! That's it. We discussed these issues in a little more detail, and it became very clear to both me and my friend that this was the likely explanatory factor. He has a tonometer, so he may be able to verify his results eventually (provided he can overcome a challenge, which I will address at the end of this post).
On my own vacation I started thinking about important career decisions and my eye pressure began to creep up day by day. As I said, the connection was far from obvious and the elevated IOP snuck up on me. In fact, I was enjoying the decision-making process and enjoying the ability to explore these various career options. But when I finally recognized that I was simply thinking too much and being too intellectual, I invoked the blessing of glaucoma, to instantly reverse my daily patterns. The blessing of glaucoma for me is that it gives me an excuse to throw off the expectations of society, or even friends and family. With the blessing of glaucoma, I no longer view my career decisions as being important enough to risk damage to my vision. My vision is priceless and that gives me the power to make healthy decisions and the power to live in the moment. In this specific case, I decided to stop trying to intellectually figure out the proper career direction. I decided to not decide. I decided live in the moment without knowing what my future career moves might be. As soon as I made that decision (to let go of deciding), my IOP came back down to my typical low levels (within a day or two).
FitEyes member bstruss has been posting about his own unusual IOP patterns lately. I'm betting he'll find his solution in a similar way to what is described above. I don't know enough details about his situation to guess what the specific issue is. But once he identifies the issue, I suspect the real challenge will be letting go of lifelong mental habits in such a way that the IOP data will clearly reflect the cause and effect. In my experience, this kind of mental and emotional flexibility requires years of disciplined training in technologies of consciousness (such as Serene Impulse and others).
Some people, even when they know that certain states of mind/emotions raise their IOP, feel compelled to continue invoking those same states of mind/emotions. In addition to a nervous system that lacks flexibility, we often hold tightly to certain beliefs that are more powerful than even the fear of blindness (or the rational recognition of elevated IOP is the #1 treatable risk factor in glaucoma progression). The tight hold to these beliefs is actually another facet of rigidity in our state of consciousness.
Self-tonometry can give incredibly powerful insights into what makes our IOP go up (or stay up). And for me, Serene Impulse gave me the technology to change my state of consciousness quickly and free myself of beliefs that were keeping me bound to unhealthy ways of being. Byron Katie's work is also extremely powerful when one has the foundation of a daily practice that makes the nervous system more flexible. (And, quite often, the people who most dislike Byron Katie's work are the ones who end up benefiting from it the most.)
In summary, there are two parts to what I did on my vacation:
- I identified the specific issues that were elevating my intraocular pressure via self-tonometry and an understanding of "esoteric" psychology
- I immediately changed my state of consciousness based on the above information (and that produced some very useful data)
To make this more concrete, let's go back to the case of my friend vacationing on a tropical island. He has a lot riding on these big issues and he feels that his only choice is to take charge and make the difficult intellectual decision -- and to do so within a defined window of time. As long as that remains his reality, his IOP will probably stay elevated until the decisions are made. That may make his IOP data a little unclear as to the causative factors. In all likelihood, he will no longer be on vacation and many other factors in his life will have changed by the time his IOP changes. In my own case, I did make an instant change in my state of mind while I was still in the middle of my vacation, and the results (lower IOP) quickly followed. So the IOP data was very clear (being very free of any other potentially confounding factors). And the clear data showed me that I had indeed solved my mystery. I wasn't quite as fast or as observant as Sherlock Holmes, but I did eventually get it right.