Do you ever wonder why the back of your head, right at the base of your skull is so darn tight?
Perhaps you’ve never actually thought of this area of your body or have much awareness there.
My guess though, is that even if you are not aware of it, you are holding onto excess tension there.
Almost all of the typical daily activities in today’s world (cell phones, computers, driving in traffic) involve what is called cortical vision. Cortical vision is narrow, super focused vision. Necessary, yes. Should it be your primary way of seeing? No.
Think to when you are on your phone, or perhaps even as you are reading this, notice how your eyes feel, notice your gaze, notice your head & neck, & particularly, notice the base of your skull.
When you use cortical vision, the muscles at the base of your skull, called suboccipital muscles, are engaged. Constant use of this sort of vision leads to hypertoned muscles in this area & often headaches.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with cortical, narrow-focused vision. You need it. The trouble comes from making this your dominant source of vision.
The alternative way of seeing the world is through what is called subcortical vision. This way of seeing includes the peripheral. Think of gazing out at the horizon. Take a moment & do this now. Look away from your computer, look away from your phone. Take a moment to gaze at your surroundings, taking in their entirety. What do you notice in your eyes, head, & neck now?
For me, when I shift my gaze in this way, I notice a letting go & softening in the back of my head. I can feel my subocciptal muscles finally getting the space to relax. In a very subtle way, I feel my head moving back to be more supported from my spinal column.
Now, besides the obvious physical benefit (releasing excess tension in your head & neck) of shifting your gaze in a more horizon focused subcortical vision way throughout your day, why else should you care to do this?
I imagine you are familiar with the benefits of practicing gratitude & feeling appreciation throughout your day.
In my experience, I find it challenging to feel fully grateful throughout my day when I am almost constantly in cortical hyperfocused vision. It is all too easy to go about my day, only aware of what is in front of me, seeing segments instead of the whole picture.
In my morning practice, I have been playing with spending a few moments sitting with the intention of utilizing my subcortical vision more. As I sit & sip my tea, taking in the entirety of my bedroom & view outside. I notice an obvious increase in the amount of gratitude & appreciation I feel. This increase isn’t coming from me attempting to force it, or thinking, ‘ok, now I need to be grateful.’ Instead, it simply is.
Today, I invite you to notice your eye gaze more throughout your day. Notice when you feel tense, stressed, or pissed off, what is happening at your eyes, head, & neck. Without the attachment to changing anything, notice what happens for you when you broaden your gaze, taking in the horizon, allowing your eyes to soften a bit. Try it, I dare you 😉