On Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m., The Community Library will inject a little health and wellness into its programming with a presentation by Peter Grunwald. The eye and posture specialist will delve into his work developing a methodology to holistically and naturally improve eyesight, posture and general wellness.
Grunwald, a frequent visitor to the Wood River Valley, began his quest at a remarkably young age.
“My work started at the age of 3,” he jested. “I got my first pair of glasses at that age for shortsightedness and astigmatism, which is an imperfection in the curvature of the cornea. Apart from that, I also stuttered horribly as I grew up and my posture was terrible. Emotionally, I had lots of fears and anxieties. With my school, my brain wasn’t functioning very well, either. I had no idea then that my eyesight, body and posture, my emotions, my thinking, may all be directly interrelated.”
Like most people, Grunwald grew up merely accepting the undesirable circumstance of his physical shortcomings. That is, until he approached age 18. He grew up in Germany where military service was compulsory for everyone who was physically fit.
To Grunwald’s displeasure, his eyesight was not quite poor enough to rule him out, nor would they accept the self-proclamation of conscientious objection.
So, he worked to make his eyesight worse and in six months had to get two new eyeglass prescriptions. Sure enough, when he turned 18, he went to the army for his physical and they regrettably informed him that he was not up to their standards.
This sparked a new avenue of thought for Grunwald. If he could deliberately make his eyesight worse, could he, perhaps, improve it?
Before he could dive headlong into that research, life got in the way.
“A lot happened to me after that. I had a near-death experience. I traveled all over, traveled to India. I had lots of spiritual experiences. Eventually, I wound up in New Zealand.”
During his time in New Zealand, Grunwald was introduced to the Alexander Technique, a posture-correction educational process pioneered by Frederick Matthias Alexander in the 1890s.
The Alexander Technique has been popular worldwide for more than a century, with many of its practitioners crediting it with solving more problems than just poor posture. Grunwald himself, after several years studying Alexander’s methodology, noted that with a correction in posture, he also stopped stuttering.
The technique is popular among vocal coaches as a way to consciously increase airflow along the vocal tract. Many actors and singers have credited it as a useful way to combat stage fright. In 2018, the British National Health Service recognized that while some emotional and psychological effects will vary person to person, the Alexander Technique does help resolve long-term back pain, long-term neck pain and some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
For Grunwald, this was more palpable evidence of a correlation between a healthy body and a healthy mind, and spurred him once more to investigate the possibility of consciously and naturally improving his eyesight.
“After six years of doing this, I thought, ‘If I can change my speech and posture, why not my eyes?’ Within about a year and a half, I didn’t need glasses anymore,” he reported.
Experiencing this dramatic improvement in his own vision, Grunwald began to develop his own method, which others could apply to their day-to-day life. Essentially, he started waging war on eyeglasses and contact lenses.
While studying the Alexander Technique, he soon noticed a correlation between his eyesight focus and his posture. He realized that when sitting in a concave position—slouching—he had difficulty focusing at certain distances.
Over the next several years, he developed his theory and his technique, mapping out where he detected connection between eyesight, brain functions and physical wellness.
He documents his findings and his proposals for how one might implement them in day-to-day life in his 2004 book “Eyebody: The Art of Integrating Eye, Brain and Body,” a third revised edition of which was released in 2017.
Here he outlines in tremendous detail all his proposed interrelations between the various parts of the body and brain—for example, the idea that there exists a correlation between a healthy iris and a healthy heart—and clearly lays out simple activities a person can do to change his or her habits for the better.
“Different parts of the eye relate to different parts of the brain,” he said. “It’s not the eye that sees. The eye is only an organ that allows light waves to come in. The actual processing is all part of the brain function.”
In “Eyebody,” he describes how posture and eyesight depend on each other. For example, sitting up straight with the head positioned a certain way will increase the eye’s field of vision, allowing light to pass through it differently than it would if the neck and back were slouching. Grunwald proposes that breaking the habit of slouching can condition the eye to get used to absorbing certain amounts and intensities of light, ultimately strengthening it.
During his talk at the library, Grunwald will explain all this in great detail, answer questions from the audience and offer examples of simple activities people can do to improve their physiology. He will also delve into intense scientific research that backs up his hypotheses, as well as testimonials from patients he has helped.
Learn more about Grunwald, his research, credentials and methodology at eyebody.com.