I first remember coming across references to 'Seeing as if from
behind the eyes' imagery when I did searches in the Krishnamurti CD-Rom Index some thirteen years ago.
described 'seeing as if from behind the eyes' and 'as if from the back of the head' exclusively in his Krishnamurti's Notebook,
as an aspect of some of his most intense and profound episodes with his "process". I viewed these references as noteworthy
characteristics, but relegated them to obscure symptoms to be possibly manifested only by someone in a very heightened and
rarified state of awareness.
"Early in the morning when the sun was not yet up and the dew on the grass,
still in bed, lying quietly, without any thought or movement, there was a seeing, not the superficial seeing with the eyes
but seeing through the eyes from behind the head. The eyes and from behind the head were only the instru-ment through which
the immeasurable past was seeing into the immeasurable space that had no time."
Krishnamurti’s Notebook, p. 32
That was how I viewed "seeing as if from the back of the head" until I had a very interesting conversation over the
phone in early December of 1999 with Bruce Fertman, a friend and Master Alexander Technique Teacher, who lives in Philadelphia,
I had called Bruce, whom I had studied with in Ojai, California, during several Alexander Technique Christmas
workshops, mainly because. our mutual friend, Michael Frederick, told me Bruce had studied with Countess Willapolska when
he was a young man just starting out in the Alexander work.
When I talked with Bruce on the phone, he confirmed that
he had studied with the Countess.
He said that the direction "Eyes free to Go Apart" and also "Eyes Go Apart" had
been very helpful to her. It helped her to soften and widen in her face. He told me she also taught her students to use the
imagery, "Seeing from the point of vision" or "Seeing as if from the back of the head."
Bruce mentioned, "It's not
only the eyeball; it's the whole eye orb that needs to release." He also mentioned that working with seeing "from the point
of vision" and "As if from the back of the head" helped him and students he worked with to be more in touch with the environ-
ment around them; it cut right through, it helped their coordination.
Bruce told me he would have students working
in a circle pretend there is a big rope behind them contacting the backs of their heads. A sense of seeing from this imaginary
point of contact was quite helpful to many of his students.
He also mentioned that when we speak of confront we're
talking about front to front. He explained that there is a potential to experience deeper connection with everything around
you when you can perceive from a deeper, more relaxed place that exploring this kind of imagery tends to encourage. .
said that he played with how we look a lot. "Outlook is how you look. Some people look out of the corner of their eyes a lot.
Some people are looking mostly down. Wearing glasses affects our outlook."
When you change your head position through
Alexander work, you need to change your eye outlook. It can become an identity habit. If a person is fixing, they must first
get the eyes unfixed: easy eyes, easy breath, easy neck.
"I will say to a student, "It's not your job to control your
head." "Then a deeper kind of support can come in." It can break through your construct, break through what is keeping you
from sensing more effectively."
When I got off the phone with Bruce, I felt like I had just hit a vein of gold. Why
was I even surprised? Bruce had demonstrated to me numerous times previously his willingness and ability to explore mind/body
awareness issues with insightful thoughtfulness.
I thought about what Bruce had shared with me. "Seeing as if from
the back of the head" began to stand out to me. Hadn't Krishnamurti mentioned that in his notebook?
had changed from talking with Bruce. Now "Seeing as if from the back of the head" wasn't just a strange side effect from Krishnamurti's
profound heightened awareness, but now it was some simple imagery that one could use, play with, to help release the eyes
and learn to come from a deeper, more connected way of seeing the world.
Then I remembered a Special Report document
I had from vision instructor, Gloria Ginn, entitled 10 Steps You Can Take Now to Improve Your Eyesight.
Step 4 was
entitled: See from the back of the head. How many times had I read it before, but now I was reading it with new eyes.
explained that when we have good vision we are not really conscious of our eyes, there is little effort involved and it is
as if we were seeing from the back of our heads. However, when we aren't seeing well we are often straining with our eyes
- almost as if to reach out and grab with our eyes.
She goes on to explain that in fact, "The visual center of the
brain is in the back of the head, not in the front of the face. The mental pictures are viewed from the back of the head."
She also explains, "I have found many people are able to recapture the experience of effortless seeing by pretending
that they are seeing from the back of the head. They simply imagine themselves sinking back, or stepping back, mentally, to
the back of the head."
She gave an example of a farsighted accountant who couldn't focus effectively at the near point.
She told him to "put himself in the back of his head." He balked at the idea, because he couldn't figure out what she meant.
A few weeks later he came in for a vision lesson with Gloria, and he reported that he had been in the back of his
head all day. She tested him at the near point and he could read right down to a micro type.
Some people, she reports,
find it easier to get this sensation of seeing as if from the back of the head, by first closing their eyes and touching the
back of their heads, and the awareness of the back of their head is retained when their eyes are opened.
of Gloria's students do not get a sense of "Seeing as if from the back of the head" until they have regained a sense of motion
in their seeing - the streaming of telephone poles, divider stripes, and other objects as you drive by them.
sense of stationery objects appearing to move is very much like the difference between having a digital still camera on top
of your shoulders taking occasional still pictures and holding them on the screen of your mind, or having a digital video
camera that is constantly recording what looks like moving scenery as you advance into it.
We 'know' it is we that
are moving and not the scenery around us, but the input that is actually directly coming into our eyes is of an ever-changing
scene if we are moving.
In closing, she reports, "I've seen many dramatic improvements in eyesight, when the person
stops trying to "go out" to see, and instead puts himself in the back of the head, letting the light come to him". (Or her)
"It is the sensation of making no effort to see."
Gloria Ginn, Better Eyesight, Special Report: 10 Steps you can take
now to improve your eyesight.
In Donna Farhi's excellent book entitled: The Breathing Book, I found a section that connects
a freeing of breathing, seeing peripherally and "looking from behind the head.
Donna Farhi writes, …"In Sally Swift's book, CENTERED
RIDING, Sally uses this "soft" eyes technique to help her budding equestrians learn to relax and become more aware of the
environment around them."
"As her students open up their breathing, the horses quite amazingly respond by calming
and slowing down. In our experiment you are both the horse and the rider."
Donna continues: "I have used this technique for years in my
yoga classes to help people maintain free breathing in more challenging postures."
"I also use it when I feel overwhelmed
by the stimulation of being in a busy city street or a chaotic department store. You may find it effective in maintaining
a feeling of openness when you are surrounded by the chaos of the office. The idea is not to walk around with glazed eyes;
this would make you less aware of both your surrounding and your breathing."
"Instead, I imagine that I am looking
from behind my eyes, receiving the images around me rather than projecting the eyes outward and retrieving the images. You
can also switch back and forth between peripheral focus and narrow focus when you need to concentrate your efforts."
would be surprised how open your vision can remain without sacrificing accuracy or mental focus even when doing such tasks
as working on a computer."
Donna Farhi, THE BREATHING BOOK: GOOD HEALTH AND VITALITY THROUGH ESSENTIAL BREATH WORK
I have just recently come across another reference to Krishanmurti
and seeing from the back of the head in a book written by Pupul Jayakar, Krishnamurti: A Biography. Pupul writes: Krishnaji
showed them how to walk, how to stand, and how to see from the back of the head. This was to let seeing flow backwards and
see from depth. He took them for long walks, observing, listening and teaching them to see and listen "pick up a leaf he said.
"Look at it - look very near and relate the looking to listening."
"On eyes." Tai Ji website
"General points only; when you look down (about 45 degrees) this can tend you to relaxation,
or worst case it is depressing."
"Eyes closed tends to internalise your feelings."
"To be alert look forward
and out, eyes wide open, be the watching tiger. (This does not mean stare at a point or stare blankly; tigers would miss a
lot of dinners that way!)"
"Energy follows the mind therefore use your eyes in Tai Chi. The eyes lead and assess;
use peripheral vision, which detects fast movement more quickly. Peripheral vision is aided by having 'soft' eyes. Soft eyes
can be encouraged by imagining them deeper inside your head and looking out, through the skull as opposed from the front of
"The Tai Chi principle 'one thing moves - all moves' , applies to eyes as well."
"Exercise . Hold a posture, for example brush knee
twist step is a good one. Focus your eyes with intent forwards .... sense the feeling."
"Now imagine your eyes are
not at the front of your head but set way back in the skull so that as you look forward you 'see' from the back of the head.
Sense the new feeling."
"Possibly you will find you are more relaxed and that there is a sense of being more behind
the posture than in front of it. You can but try."
"To be alert look forward and out, eyes wide open, be
the watching tiger. (This does not mean stare at a point or stare blankly; tigers would miss a lot of dinners that way!)"
follows the mind therefore use your eyes in Tai Chi. The eyes lead and assess; use peripheral vision, which detects fast movement
more quickly. Peripheral vision is aided by having 'soft' eyes. Soft eyes can be encouraged by imagining them deeper inside
your head and looking out, through the skull as opposed from the front of it."
"The Tai Chi principle 'one thing moves - all moves'
, applies to eyes as well."
Exercise . Hold a posture, for example brush knee twist
step is a good one. Focus your eyes with intent forwards .... sense the feeling."
"Now imagine your eyes are not at the front of your
head but set way back in the skull so that as you look forward you 'see' from the back of the head. Sense the new feeling."
"Possibly you will find you are more relaxed and that there is a sense of being more behind the posture than in front
of it. You can but try."
"The eyes should be softened, this
improves peripheral vision but more importantly, if you allow it, can soften the whole body too. Try it ... look
ahead, even at these words, this screen, now slowly soften the gaze ... do you not feel the wave of relaxation travelling
through your body, are your shoulders not less tense?"
"In some ways there is a connection with the beginning of a
smile, the softening can travel the body, if you just wait a while in the middle."
Editor note: This Tai Ji website commentary is making
it especially clear to me that "Seeing from the back of the head" or "Seeing from behind the eyes" and "soft eyes" are directly
Dona Fahi (SP?) states this also.