As a writer, I spend several hours each day in front of a computer screen. But all this close up work can leave my eyes tired and cause head aches if I’m not careful to take time to rest my eyes every so often.
While working for an optometrist about 18 years ago, I learned a simple trick to relieve some of that eye strain. He suggested that each hour I take off my glasses for a few minutes and look away from the computer screen. It wasn’t enough to merely look away, though. He wanted me to find a comfortable chair facing a window. Then he told me to concentrate on looking up at the top of the tallest building, tree or mountain I saw out the window for about 5 minutes!
By changing the focus of my eyes to a distant object out the window, it gave the muscles that control the eye movement a chance to return to their relaxed state instead of the tense, close-up state needed for reading the computer screen. It didn’t matter if the object was blurred because it wasn’t about seeing it clearly – it was about relaxing the muscles supporting the eyes. Also, by getting away from the computer to a comfortable chair, the whole body had the opportunity to relax after the tension of the typing posture.
Over time, I’ve noticed this eye muscle-relaxation exercise has other benefits. When I’m writing, it gives me a chance to stop focusing on the words God gives me to write for a few minutes and to focus instead on the God who gives the words. It gives me time to commune with him and to gain his perspective on the story’s direction and purpose. If there are other distractions which prevent me from hearing his voice clearly, this mental pause helps me to refocus on him alone.
Like the Psalmist, I look at the far-away mountains, but I’m not necessarily seeing them clearly. They’re just directing my eyes toward the God who created them. My help, my ideas and the words I write really come from him – and when I pause to reflect on that, it rests my heart as well as my eyes, giving me the motivation and help I need to keep writing.
Father, help me to pause as often as needed to focus my spiritual eyes on you – for you are the one who gives rest to my soul! Amen.