They say when we smile, it releases endorphins in the brain. Smiling might be in response to titilation or happiness, but by a twist of fact, the actual act of smiling can create the titilation of happiness. It’s like a Pavlovian response on the body.
They say when we think of a new concept, or switch between concepts in our thinking, our eyes move rapidly. You may have seen someone do this when you say something new or make them think of something in a new way – Their eyes shift quickly. Apparently even congenital blind people have this response. It’s thought to be caused by a flash of neurons firing rather than a “seeing” visual trigger.
In rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep) the brain is switching concepts quickly. Hence the rapid eye movements. My guess is the quick switching in concepts during sleep is because the brain is running the data through “spreadsheets” and testing hypotheses. Events and thoughts or experiences from the day are being processed and catalogued.
It follows, pavlovianlly, that causing your eyes to move rapidly might trigger a change in your conceptual thinking. As smiling begets happiness, so rapid eye movement begets conceptual thinking shifts.
If you happen to have labelled a certain event in your mind as good or bad, possibly it gets stuck that way by default. If you think of that event however and move your eyes rapidly, you may be able to unlock your conceptual thought and get your brain sifting through other hypotheses.
For example, you might think “I experienced a terrible chain of events, therefore I am bad”. Likely, the brain just accepts this worst case conceptual scenario because it makes you meek and keeps you safe (you won’t go looking for it again).
But think of the perceived bad experience with the wiggly eye technique and possibly, you force the brain computer to test other hypotheses.
This is an actual psychological technique called eye movement desensitisation EMD. There’s an R on the end there but I can’t recall why.
The missing piece of the puzzle for me is: how to know when the new concept has taken effect, or even that it’s going to be a good one. For example, is it possible whilst wiggling my eyes back and forth and thinking of ice cream, that I will dislodge my conceptual “good” experiences and replace them with bad ones.
I suspect the eye wiggles does neither (neither changes bad to good; or good to bad conceptually) but instead helps to dissipate “beliefs” by creating a more objective view of the circumstances. Effectively it stops you getting stuck in thinking and forces the brain to start sifting for a broader interpretation.
It makes sense now why in a recent paper I read, they draw a link between EMD and vispassna mediation. Vispassna meditation is about accepting things as they are with detached attachment (or something). The idea is that by focusing on the body (eg breathing) the thinking can be released in favour of experiencing.
I reckon those of us with entrenched negative thinking and negative patterns of behaviour could benefit from wiggling our eyes. Likely there are some of us that get stuck in negative thinking patterns by genetic default.
You could do it with your eyes shut. Or open as you walk. I just found you can do it while driving. It’s not unsafe it’s actually interesting to look around rapidly although slightly disturbing. Maybe do it while you walk and look at the horizon, the trees, the birds.
Do our eyes move a lot when we play iPad games? Maybe it’s great therapy. Maybe some iPad games stimulate the ability which is then applied later in other areas of life.