I haven’t done a book review in a while, but I saw the book Restoring Your Eyesight: A Taoist Approach by Doug Marsh at the library a few weeks ago and decided to check it out. I was just looking at books around the library and was around the health section, so I decided to see what vision books they had. As I expected, most of the vision books were on eye diseases and healthy habits. However, I saw the mentioned book on the shelf and recognized it from pictures on the internet when I’ve searched for other NVI books. I don’t consciously follow Taoist teachings, so I wasn’t sure if the book would be helpful to me. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of information contained in Marsh’s book. Here are the positives and negatives I found in the book.
(+) The main positive aspect I noticed as I read through this book was how many good vision improvement books, websites, vision teachers, and other sources Marsh used to support and supplement his points. This included ideas and descriptions of Thomas Quackenbush, Jacob Liberman, Peter Grunwald, Antonia Orfield, Meir Schneider, and David Kiesling from the Imagination Blindness website (along with many others). This was obviously possible because of how recently the book was written (copyright is 2007). Furthermore, I could tell how much Marsh had researched vision improvement, how interested he was in learning about it from a variety of people and sources, and how much vision improvement had been integrated into Marsh’s mind. Additionally, the foreword was written by Thomas Quackenbush which, although I don’t agree 100% with Quackenbush’s approach, lends credibility to Marsh as a vision improvement teacher and author.
(+) The book was organized in a logical, flowing way. The first part of the book describes the problems, stresses, and strain that lead to vision problems. The second section describes how one can prevent and reverse the problems described in part one. Part three then expands the discussion to the problems with vision treatment in the conventional optometric methods. This layout reminds me of Bates’ original book, which used a similar format.
(+) Marsh incorporated a variety of methods to reduce physical and mental strain. These included Bates basic techniques, the Alexander Technique, massage therapy, trigger points, and many other therapeutic systems. While Marsh of course couldn’t describe all of these therapies and techniques in thorough detail, it is good to see all of the techniques and systems that can help improve your vision within one book. One could easily pick one of the therapies mentioned in the book and do further research on books and local therapists that teach that therapy method.
(+) It is clear that Taoist teachings are a major part of who Doug Marsh is and how he lives his life. However, Marsh mainly drew upon his Taoist beliefs by using quotes from the Tao Te Ching to introduce and support his main vision improvement ideas. The Taoist ideas did not overshadow the Bates principles and vision improvement information. Additionally, I think the Tao Te Ching quotes Marsh used complemented Bates’ vision principles very well. Marsh put much thought into which quotes were chosen for his book.
(+) I can tell that Marsh understands the Bates method at a deep level as he did a good job at describing Bates’ core NVI findings in four points: 1) no refractive state of the eyes is permanent 2) if mental strain leads to an effort to see, one’s vision will be imperfect 3) perfect sight is obtained through relaxation 4) since the normal eye has good vision habits at all times, one with imperfect sight must practice the correct vision principles consciously until they become an unconscious habit. These four points describe the underlying problem of imperfect eyesight (mental strain) and how one can have perfect sight (removing the mental strain through relaxation). As an aside, I also liked how Marsh differentiated between stress and strain; stress is something that negatively affects the person while strain is the person’s reaction to the stress. I think Bates also used this distinction in his writings.
(-) There weren’t any glaring negatives that I saw with this book.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this book was written and how much I enjoyed reading it. While there are many ideas and methods described for obtaining mental and physical relaxation, I think Marsh was just going along with Bates’ belief that one needs to try as many vision improvement techniques as possible and continue using the ones that are beneficial for you. There were so many other things in this book that were interesting such as Marsh’s explanations of how the mind, body, diseases, emotions, etc. are connected and influence each other. I definitely plan on buying a copy of this book someday as it will take multiple readings to understand all that Marsh wrote at a level that I can effortlessly apply the ideas to my daily life. However, I know that reading this book more times in the future will contribute to my vision improvement journey in a positive way. 🙂