Self-Healing Without Limits
Meir Schneider, Ph.D, LMT, is an international author, health educator, pioneer therapist and founder of the San Francisco-based non-profit School for Self-Healing. His publications include The Natural Vision Improvement Kit, Movement for Self-Healing, Vision for Life and Awakening the Power of Self-Healing. On May 14 & 15, Schneider will teach workshops in Jacksonville, Oregon.
The following transcript is a submitted Q&A.
Question: What was your first experience with the potential of the human body to heal itself?
Meir: I was 16 when I began working on my eyes with the hope of gaining functional sight for the first time. I started to have visions of healing through movement, and in these dreams, I saw that no disease is incurable. I began creating exercises for myself and for others with serious illnesses. An awareness of the body and movements that heal was growing within me.
Through working on my eyes, I discovered how deeply the function of any one area of the body is related to that of the whole body. As my eyesight improved, I began helping people with serious, degenerative conditions. I learned that the body is more capable of healing itself than we could ever imagine.
For 50 years, I have shared this kinesthetic awareness with the world by teaching, lecturing and working with people who are motivated to improve the use of their body and eyes. Through personal contact, as well as my books, DVDs, videos and audio programs, I have reached people across the United States and in 25 different countries.
I have taught hundreds of thousands of people to heal themselves, from athletes and musicians trying to perfect their performance to people afflicted with paralysis and chronic pain. The work that I do combines subtle exercise, an emphasis on kinesthetic awareness, massage and self-massage, breath work and visualization. All of these elements work together synergistically.
My motivated clients become excellent observers of their own body and active partners with their therapists, implementing a home program that is created and revised during sessions. This active role leads to an empowerment that strongly counteracts the depression, frustration, and fear that often accompany sickness and disability.
Question: Why do you think chronic disease is so much more prevalent today than 50 years ago?
Meir: We have degenerative illnesses because we live sedentary lives. We sit in offices, living rooms and airplanes and we look too long at smart phones, tablets and computers. All day long, the body is stiff, rigid and unfeeling –
a result of our limited stereotyped movement patterns. Eventually, we do not want to move. It feels unnatural. Little by little, joints and muscles degenerate and eyesight deteriorates. Every part of us deteriorates.
We can address that degeneration by becoming more alive. Yes, you may have to work 9 to 5 to make a living. But while you work, try breathing deeply. Many people don’t realize that you can be so unhappy with life, that you decide to hardly breathe at all. Another positive action would be to add consciousness to your exercise routine. You can exercise in a mindless way in a gym or in a mindful way in that same gym.
It’s your choice to move or not to move. It’s your choice to sit in front of the computer screen and shut out your peripheral vision until your brain has learned to ignore it or to refresh your eyes by looking off into the distance. I’m not telling anyone to change their lives, leave their family, or change their job. But the way we work these days makes us less alive. We can become more alive.
Question: Tell us more about how the computer and reading affect the eyes and what to do about it.
Meir: First of all, people in the past naturally looked far into the distance as they farmed the land and hunted. The structure of the human eye supports long-distance sight. In fact, the resting state of the eye accommodates this type of vision. Our eyes are anatomically designed to see things far away, with little or no effort, and to only sometimes focus on nearby objects. This structure served humanity quite well for a million years. However, the onset of the modern age dramatically increased literacy among the average population and shifted the way we regularly use our eyes: from scanning the distant countryside in an outdoor environment to frequently viewing up-close objects, especially indoors. The worst practice we have is looking at tablets and smart phones that decrease the periphery.
In today’s world, time is spent mainly in buildings, and many professions demand a lot of reading, computer use, or other “close-up” work (artists, etc.) This leads to chronic contraction of the eye muscles and requires the eye to work in unnatural light, which is another stress. As a result, 45 percent of the world’s population 40 years or younger and 90 percent of the world’s population 45 years or older have lost the ability to see well, both near and far. The solution to maintaining healthy eye function is to learn ways to relax the eyes and help them stretch.
I invite everyone to look out of the window where they work. Instead of coffee and smoking breaks, take “nurture your eyes” breaks. Go outside and look far into the distance for a few moments! When you read a book or look at your phone, pause sometimes to wave your hands at the side of your face within your visual field. This brings an awareness of your peripheral vision to your consciousness.
My Natural Vision Improvement Kit has been released worldwide and should already be available in local bookstores. It’s a multimedia learning kit: 2 CDs – one of which is designed especially for computer users – explain a series of exercises to correct near- and far- sightedness and eye fatigue and teach you to relax and balance the use of your eyes. Also included are 13 portable photo-illustrated cards, which offer instruction on fundamental eye exercises. Two standard eye charts test your vision and monitor improvement. It is a powerful, easy-to-use and effective kit.
One more tip for computer users: learn to work more with your fingers, and learn to relax the shoulders. You can actually let the fingertips to do the typing without much tension. This is important or else you will tense the shoulders and the neck.
Question: Why would eye exercise be important to somebody who doesn’t have a particular eye problem?
Meir: Sensory work is very important because movement and sensation affect each other closely and continually in the body. But let’s get real – most people do have eye problems. If you have good eyesight, there’s no reason not to see even better! Think about how good your vision was as a child, or consider Indians in the Amazon or nomads in the desert. Their sight is so much better than most peoples, yet physically, they have the same eye that we do.
Even eyes that see well get visually assaulted and can benefit from the relaxation exercises. We overuse the eyes and use them incorrectly. People with good vision unconsciously use their eyes the right way most of the time, in spite of the fact that our culture teaches them not to.
Question: The program at the School for Self-Healing emphasizes that the client has the major responsibility in their healing process. What are its philosophic underpinnings?
Meir: It is the soul’s choice whether to heal itself or not. There’s a lot of harm in certain prevailing beliefs that we’re brought up with like: “Your vision can only get worse as you get older”, “You need spectacles” or “At 45, you must be arthritic and at 30, you must have some back pain.” These statements are accepted as common axioms by most people. As an instructor of Self-Healing, I’m teaching the mind to free itself from those ideas and the body, through touch, to free itself of old ways of operating. Life, the way it is, is just an agreement. The fact that 90 percent of people have back pain at an early age is only a possibility that became a reality for many. Millions of Americans already have macular degeneration (deterioration of part of the retina), which is a leading cause of visual impairment in the elderly. There are too many cases every year, and this does not have to happen! It can be prevented with the correct use of the eyes and better circulation to the head.
Changing how we care for our body is not that simple, either. You can’t just sit down and think positively. You have to experience a different way of living. So, our job in Self-Healing is to help people know what’s available to them and to gently train the body to do more and more for itself.
Question: Tell us what kind of conditions the Meir Schneider Self-Healing Method has successfully addressed.
Meir: We’ve worked with professional athletes, as well as with those suffering from many of the most difficult-to-treat conditions known – people who have had doctors and other practitioners write them off as incurable. We’ve had a great deal of success with a wide range of ailments: muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, respiratory problems, circulatory disorders, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, back and postural problems, digestive disorders, stroke and many vision problems and much more.
The problem these days is the whole idea of a passive client and a “fix-it-all” therapist. My bottom line in teaching is nurturing the student’s creativity. Fuel them with information and knowledge, but let them be creative in designing therapy programs for individual need. We need a new model of the healing relationship. Weak people want others to take care of them. Of course, in some situations they should. If you need surgery, there are many people who know how to use the tools, just like other people know how to do upholstery. But with most health problems today, the active, omniscient doctor/passive patient model is not working, and in fact, is contributing to an increase in degenerative disease. It’s important for people to take charge of their own healing.
It all starts in the living room and in the workplace. You should always pay attention to yourself – to your breath and your body’s comfort. It starts both with the individual and in classes, where one can see others working on themselves and see their improvement, too. This is why people come from all over the world to my School in San Francisco for training in the Meir Schneider Self-Healing Method Through Bodywork and Movement, spending nine hours a day exploring movement and the ability of the body to heal. They are transformed.
Question: Why do you think modern medicine seems to be failing to address this problem of chronic disease and the helplessness and hopelessness so many people experience?
Meir: Medicine is designed for acute illness. It’s almost a branch of engineering. With modern medicine, if somebody has an accident, a stab wound for example, there’s the drama of surgery, and the patient is saved. We need that. Medicine has its place. The problem is the day-to-day lifestyle that leads to a little arthritis here, a little hardening of the arteries there. These problems are usually addressed with pills, and the patient remains ignorant. But in recent years, even the medical community acknowledges that meditation, biofeedback, yoga, a vegetarian diet and other self-care therapies have value. The problem is that it will take a generation to really penetrate the mainstream medical field. We do not have time to wait! I want people to believe in themselves and take back their own live.
So right now, sit and breathe deeply, relax and pay attention to your body. Step outside and look far into the distance.
Meir will teach a workshop on May 14 & 15 in Jacksonville, Oregon. He had held workshops in Portland, but this will be his first trip to Jacksonville. He hopes to reach many people who want to improve their vision and body naturally. He will emphasize vision improvement but also will give you very valuable work on the body.
Also, until July 1, all who read this article can ask for a special discount (from $350 to $250) for 5 webinars. As Meir was invited pre-covid to many places in the world and he still is invited post-covid to Germany, to France and many other places, it is a great opportunity for local people to experience Meir’s work, for a very moderate price.
Visit: https://www.self-healing.org for more information.