Updated: May 12
Have you ever laid in bed at night trying to sleep but a relentless stream of thoughts flowed through your mind? Do you find it hard to control constant negative thoughts throughout the day? Does it seem like you have a radio station tuned to “I suck and everything is going to turn to crap” playing at full blast? If you do, you’re not alone.
I was a person who worried a lot, had critical and judgmental thoughts about myself and others that I couldn’t seem to control. I had always been attracted to the idea of meditation but could never turn off the seemingly unending stream of chatter my brain pumped out to find that Zen state other people talked about with meditation.
The average person has around 20,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day. For most people, 80-90% of your thoughts are negative, and 95% are the same repetitive thoughts as the day before. That’s a huge amount of useless, negative crap rolling around in your head. What I have learned is all negative thinking is generated by one side of your brain in particular, and there is an easy way to balance your brain and in turn reduce negative thinking.
So, you are probably going to think I’ve lost my marbles with this technique I'm about to tell you about but keep an open mind. Eye Patch Therapy or Pirate Therapy as I like to call it is hands down the most effective technique I have ever tried for quieting the mind and stopping the pattern of negative thinking - and I have experimented with most of them. When your mind is secretly a bitchy mean girl who puts you down all the time – a technique that works to shut her up makes all the difference.
While we only have one brain, there are two halves or hemispheres (a right and a left side). These hemispheres are connected by a cluster of nerves called the corpus callosum, that pass information back and forth. Most of us tend to be either right or left-brain-dominant.
Our brain has two sides, which think in different ways. Our right-brain is visual and gathers information by first looking at the whole picture then the details. Our left-brain is verbal and collects information by looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole picture.
Our right-brain is more positive, intuitive and emotional. Our left is analytical, critical, judgmental and sequential. Our right-brain controls the left side of the body, and our left-brain controls the right. If the left side of your brain is damaged or removed, you are in spiritual bliss. You don’t function very well, but you are super happy since this is the side of the brain that generates negative thoughts.
People who favour the right side of their brain tend to be more creative and intuitive. They see things as a whole and are interested in art, connecting with others and emotions. They tend to be a bit all over the place and not very organised. Left-brain-dominant people tend to find right-brained people’s way of thinking vague and scatterbrained, for they can be quite the opposite in the way they think.
Left-brainers tend to be more analytical and logical in their thinking and usually excel at math and literacy skills. This does not mean that someone who is left or right-brain dominant doesn’t use the other side of their brain. Even though one side may be dominant, the two parts of the brain work together.
Studies have shown that syndromes like ADHD, Dyslexia, Asperger’s and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) may be due to a brain dominance issue and the two sides of the brain not working together effectively.
As a therapist, I am always on the lookout for the latest techniques that will help my clients to change their lives for the better. I first heard about Eye Patch Therapy from a friend who was using it to help her learn to speed read and then again while studying couple’s counselling. I heard about a therapist that used the technique who had amazing results working with couples that fought constantly and never seemed to be able to resolve their issues.
The only thing he did differently from other therapists was have the couples cover their right eye with an eye patch. I found this so fascinating that I researched Eye Patch Therapy extensively and was amazed by what I learned.
Eye Patching has been used for years by optometrists and therapists to improve vision, treat dyslexia, ADHD, anger issues, depression, OCD, phobias, anxiety, and insomnia. It also helps stop negative thought patterns, resolve conflict and quiet the mind.
Your right eye’s optic nerve is connected to the left hemisphere of your brain, and your left eye is connected to the right hemisphere. By covering the right eye with a patch, the left-brain activity is slowed significantly and causes your brain to send more information through the nerves between the hemispheres. You want to always patch the right eye first and then the left to create balance and strengthen both sides.
This, in turn, forces your brain to create new neural connections and helps your brain to grow and perceive the world in a more balanced way.
I decided to try eye patching to quiet my busy mind and improve negative thought patterns. I went and bought a hard pirate eye patch from the $2 shop and went home to try it out, hoping that my family wouldn’t think I had lost the plot with my latest hare-brained therapy. I patched each eye while keeping the eye open under it for fifteen minutes a day. I went about my normal business, emailing, tidying the house and reading. As long as you don’t use sharp instruments or drive, you’ll be fine.
The first few days, I hated it! I want to rip the patch off my face. It made me feel disoriented and somewhat nauseous. I figured the patching must be doing something if I was reacting that strongly, so I stuck with it. By the fourth day, I remember sitting with my children, doing a puzzle and suddenly being struck by the realisation that my mind was quiet.
It wasn’t until the negative chatter was gone that I realised how constant it had become. I was able to stay completely present and in the moment for the first time in my life. After only four days of patching my eyes, I understood what the “power of now” meant.
I continued to patch my eyes every day for another few days, then three days a week and now I do it once every month or two. I had tried almost every therapy possible to improve my thought patterns, limiting beliefs and negative inner dialogue, only to find the answer in something I could do from home in a few minutes, without having to think about it.
The effects of regular patching can be significant and extensive by encouraging whole-brain thinking. By strengthening the bridge between your brain hemispheres, the mind has quicker access to greater resources (both hemispheres). The overall effect is a decrease in negative thoughts, a quiet and focused mind, and greater emotional intelligence.
Patching can cause you to develop a new perspective on life. It can help you change your mind about a situation within minutes, and over time, improve your happiness and relationships. I have seen people make amazing shifts in just a few weeks regarding issues they had for a lifetime, all by retraining the brain to see the world differently.
My only regret is that I didn’t discover this technique sooner. Here’s a video explaining it.
The Technique - How to Eye Patch
Place the eye patch over one eye (I recommend starting with the right eye since the right eye is connected to the left hemisphere). Adjust the patch to fit comfortably. Don’t worry if you can see a bit of light out of the corner of your eye.
Wear the patch for several minutes - 10 to 15 minutes. If you feel uncomfortable or nauseous, take off the patch and build up to 15 minutes over time.
Place the patch over the other eye for the same amount of time.
Do this technique every day for a week and then every other day for a week and then as needed.
What Type of Eye Patch and Where to Buy One?
You want to buy a hard eye patch so that you can keep the eye open underneath. The drugstore or pharmacy or even a kid’s pirate dress-up patch from the toy store will work. I buy them in bulk from the dollar shop in the birthday party favours section. You should see the looks I get when I go to the checkout with hundreds of eye patches.
Warning: Do not patch the eyes during times when depth perception is important (such as driving, operating dangerous equipment or machines, using sharp instruments, knives, etc.)