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Intraocular Pressure in a Spiritual Context

Submitted by dave on Wed, 02/24/2010 - 9:59am

Recently here on FitEyes, readers have asked about the relationship between intraocular pressure about meditation. That prompted me to write this post about some of the broader spiritual aspects of what I do as well as how I view intraocular pressure in my own life and in my work as a Serene Impulse teacher.

Meditation and spirituality are often perceived as soft, delicate, wishy-washy, "New Agie", etc. My own approach is hard-core and scientific. It is also great fun. The path is filled with bliss and love -- and lots of IOP data!

There are some challenges (and many benefits!) associated with teaching spiritual techniques to people who have glaucoma, as I often do. I myself am a glaucoma patient, and I have enjoyed great personal benefit from focusing on the spiritual aspects of this condition.

I have done a lot of research via self-tonometry and I have specific knowledge related to my own IOP. However, I don't take a medical perspective. Intraocular pressure and quality of vision can be viewed in different contexts -- as can weight or any other aspect of our body. One context is medical. For example, weight can be treated as a medical condition when it is a risk factor for a specific disease. Another context is non-medical. Weight can be a topic of discussion in the context of appearance, fitness, etc.

intraocular pressure, glaucoma and spiritualityFor me, intraocular pressure is of most interest in the context of enjoyment of life, general health, general stress, spiritual growth, consciousness and enlightenment. I operate in this spiritual context. My IOP gives me direct and profound feedback about my spiritual practice. Here are a couple related things I have written on this topic that may add color to that statement:

I rarely, if ever, think about what IOP means in terms of my own glaucoma -- that's the job for my doctor. And that may be the main challenge I see others encounter when they monitor their own IOP and correlate that with a spiritual practice or other lifestyle factors. I have found that it is extremely important to focus on health and happiness and leave the medical concerns to one's health care professionals. I have had to work diligently to maintain my non-medical focus in my own life.

If I monitor my own IOP and simultaneously read a large number of medical articles on glaucoma, I risk the curse of many medical students --  hypochondria (or, in milder form, excessive concern about the disease aspects of my condition). I have found that the right perspective is critical. I believe that increasing the health of my eyes requires that I stay focused on health, not disease. It is a matter of perspective.

It is said that for each state of consciousness, there is a corresponding physiological state. My own experience is that for each state of consciousness, there is a corresponding IOP pattern (that is part of that physiological state).

In my experience, IOP reveals something objective about subjective states of consciousness. That's incredibly interesting to me. And it has nothing to do with treating a medical condition. When I work with students, I always emphasize that I'm not a doctor, and that I don't treat glaucoma. I am involved in technologies of consciousness, and that's the only context in which I discuss IOP. But that's not just a disclaimer, it's my reality, and I think this should be a key insight for anyone reading this post.

If you wonder why self-tonometry is a fun, fascinating, wonderful journey for me (and many of my students), this is why. Self-tonometry should be a wonderful experience for anyone who takes it up. On the one hand, it will benefit your doctor. And when you are participating in making medical decisions with your doctor, having extensive IOP data can be invaluable to you. However, that's the medical context. In daily life, thinking constantly about the disease aspects of having glaucoma will be detrimental. Learn to think of IOP in a different context. Hopefully, my own stories here on FitEyes will give you some insight into how I do that.

I have found that I can change my state of consciousness and measure a corresponding change in my IOP. When I teach technologies of consciousness to my students, if they happen to have tonometers, they can also see changes in IOP that correlate to changes in state of consciousness. The spiritual (as well as emotional and physical) insights that come from this are profound. However, the meaning of the IOP changes in the context of glaucoma is something each person has to discuss with their own doctor. And the less you think about this in the context of disease, the better. I cannot emphasize that enough. Treating glaucoma is your doctor's job. Being blissful is your job.

I have intimate knowledge of how Serene Impulse affects consciousness and subtle energies (prana, qi), and I have seen incredible things about how this relates to my own IOP. However, my own feeling is that this isn't something I can teach others without personal communication directly with them. And, if I were aware of it, I would not teach this to anyone who indicated they were trying to use this knowledge to treat their medical condition, for all the reasons mentioned here and more.

As to why personal instruction is required, I'm going to quote Thomas Merton again. (Some of my regular readers probably have this quote memorized by now!)

“The only way to get rid of misconceptions about [consciousness] is to experience it. One who does not actually know, in his own life, the nature of this breakthrough and this awakening to a new level of reality cannot help being misled by most of the things that are said about it. For [higher levels of consciousness] cannot be taught. It cannot even be clearly explained. It can only be hinted at, suggested, pointed to, symbolized. The more objectively and scientifically one tries to analyze it, the more he empties it of its real content, for this experience is beyond the reach of verbalization and of rationalization.“ -

--- New Seeds of Contemplation

If you are an Olympics fan, you may know the story of Bode Miller. I guess he is an example of someone who could probably master skills like those I teach without the usual formal instruction -- just maybe. But for the rest of us mortals, mastering these skills requires personal coaching. (Regular readers may notice that this is another theme I bring up often. I apologize for being repetitive!) But it is important to note that it takes people hundreds of hours of practice to acquire proficiency in these skills.

I believe anyone can learn to change their own state of consciousness. I also believe that most glaucoma patients will see a correlation between their IOP and their state of consciousness. I have seen that in everyone I know through FitEyes. However, no formal scientific research has been done to estimate the percentage of people with glaucoma who would see the effects I describe. I have reason to believe it may be universal, but that's just my belief. It is easier to see the correlation between negative stress and elevated IOP. Unfortunately, we do not need to learn anything we haven't already learned in order to produce negative mental states! To see the correlation between positive mental states and lower IOP, people need extensive training. This is no different from the fact that a scientist needs extensive training in order to observe experimental results in the laboratory. If you want ot replicate the results I'm describing, you need to develop the skills. That takes hundreds of hours of practice and specific training.

Too many people turn away from the work too easily when they are working on their own. That's one reason I emphasize the need for personal coaching.

I will share some of the things I see that typically hold people back:

    * not understanding the ego (the self)
    * not understanding sensory perception
    * not being scientific (in terms of methodology, not dogma)
    * not understanding cause and effect
    * not putting in the hard work required to do the program in a way that will actually result in a transformation
    * wanting to be transformed without the inconvenience of actually changing

That's a general list. Of course, each person is different. That list won't apply to any one person. And I don't want to make it sound difficult. From my own experience, this path is easy, comfortable and very pleasant. There is nothing hard about it. But it does require discipline, like any spiritual path.

And this path isn't like following a reciple to bake a cake. It is more like experimental research. This is especially true when self-tonometry is part of the topic. Anyone doing self-tonometry is a pioneer. Pioneers can't take shortcuts. If they do, they end up with arrows in their backs. We don't want that! So be careful and have fun!

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