I love this tool.
OEI is similar to EMDR but the quality of processing, the pacing, the experience of ones mind, are quite different.
I’ll explain my sense of how this works.
Each of our eyes has four optic nerves. Two of these stay on the same side of the brain as the eye in question, the other two cross over to the other side of the brain. For some reason, 2/3 of our vision in each eye is mostly viewed through the opposite side of our brain.
Because the brain/mind of each of the two hemispheres knows the world somewhat differently, when we cover one eye, our experience of our world will be colored by the mode of knowing that arises from the opposite side of our brain.
The right side of our brain is more fully connected with the mammalian and reptilian parts of our brain. It has a more holistic mode of knowing the world. It is more flowy and informed by our visceral and emotional knowings of the world.
Our left hemisphere is more separate from these deeper structures of the brain. The world generally feels cooler when viewed primarily through our left hemisphere. This view is oriented more around sequence, ordering, and logic. It is a more analytic way of being in the world.
Typically, when we are triggered by something, our reptilian and mammalian brain/mind will be on fire. Our more primordial sense of safety, belonging, beingness will feel threatened and set off alarm bells deep within our brain and being. We will feel this mostly through the modes of knowing and being that belong to our right hemisphere and the deeper structures of the brain.
There are two primary modes, with MANY variations, of dealing with this. We either shut down and become rigidly governed by the cooler left hemisphere mode of being. Or, we become flooded and overwhelmed. Neither is a particularly pleasant way of being in the world.
I use OEI in a number of ways. First of all, I use it in my journalling practice to help me process difficult patterns that I’m wrestling with (see Journal Writing Protocol). This protocol is a crazy helpful tool for unpacking and working through your stuff.
In my practice, I use it in a variety of ways. When someone is really mired in a certain painful dance of some kind, OEI very quickly helps dis-identify or unblend from that dance. It helps us to get to know, in a very visceral and vivid manner, the parts of our mind that have been doing that dance and it helps the brain/mind find it’s way to a more interesting and functional way of dancing with that slice of the world.
When we are flooded with emotions, anxiety, despair, or intense anger or rage, if we are able to bring even a sliver of our witnessing mind into the room, OEI can, almost immediately help to reduce the intensity and help the brain/mind to transform our relationship with whatever situation is the occasion for these intense emotions. Things will settle pretty quickly.
If we are cut off from any of the fires burning deeper within our brain/mind, as long as we can access even a little bit of body awareness, that frozenness will, in a very gentle manner, begin to thaw so that we can access the underlying heat, and begin to cool the fires.