Rapid Eye Oscillation Technique (REOT) is a technique that can be used for reducing excessive ruminations and worry, to calm a racing mind, and for general relaxation. It can also help eliminate meditation "monkey mind" -- the problem with unwanted thoughts entering your consciousness during meditation.

The technique is simple. You simply close your eyes and move them back and forth fairly rapidly when unwanted thoughts disrupt your equanimity. One oscillation every half second or about twice the rate of a clock pendulum should be an effective speed. At the same time, visualize the disruptive thought -- either the person or event involved. Or if you're experiencing anxiety for no apparent reason, just oscillate your eyes while focusing on the air flowing in and out of your nostrils until the anxiety subsides. You should not experience any discomfort while using REOT. Don't try to move your eyes to their peripheral limits. If you feel any eye strain, you are moving your eyes too far.


With Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), you follow the therapist's hand, finger, or light on a machine with your eyes while recalling an emotional event. EMDR treatment transpires in several phases and sometimes over several sessions.

REOT is applied real-time. Any time you experience anxiety from memories or if you just can't relax, use REOT at that moment. (Obviously, do not use while driving.) Research data is still being accumulated, but those who have experienced success with REOT have also developed self-efficacy that they could effectively manage stress, which in itself had a calming effect.

Why It Works

When we recall an event, the original memory is replaced with a new memory. It's like opening a text file on your computer, making a few changes, and then saving that file. Some memories have a great deal of emotional content, which would be analogous to exclamation marks and emotion-adjectives within the file. If you remove all the exclamation marks and emotion indicators, the story becomes boring, and we don't have a strong emotional reaction.

Painful memories are vivid because of their emotional content. Each time we ruminate, we experience the associated negative emotions, and the memory is stored again with the emotional content fully intact or perhaps even amplified. You are likely to continue ruminating over that event util you can either resolve the problem or reduce the emotional content in some other way.

Scientists have found that if a client can recall a disturbing event calmly, the memory will lose some of its emotional charge. Talk therapy is efficacious for some clients suffering from emotional trauma if they can recall the event objectively instead of emotionally. EMDR therapy may be effective for that reason. Recently, scientists have been experimenting with the use of beta-blockers to medically suppress emotions in clients while recalling a traumatizing event. Results thus far are inconclusive, though.

How REOT Works

We can only process a certain amount of information at a time without becoming overloaded. Moving your eyes back and forth repeatedly requires a fair amount of processing power. If you try to recall an emotional event while oscillating your eyes, the memory becomes fragmented and you do not have enough processing power left to simultaneously process the emotion. Thus, the original, emotionally charged event is replaced with one with reduced emotional content. Repeating this process whenever the event is recalled dramatically degrades the emotional content of the memory. Since you always have REOT at your disposal, you can use it any time a thought or rumination makes you anxious or disrupts your concentration.

REOT Applications

Your boss just made you look like a fool at a meeting in front of your coworkers. You feel like punching him in the mouth, but your impulse control mechanisms hold you back. It would not be in your best interest to assault your boss. So you sit there fuming. You go back to your cubical reliving the humiliating event over and over in your mind. You can't focus on your work. Your blood pressure elevates. You ruminate about it when you're trying to sleep that night, which keeps you awake long into the morning hours.


Instead of allowing humiliation ruin your day (or longer), you can use REOT immediately to stop the stress reaction before it becomes a problem. At the meeting, discretely close your eyes when you get a chance, and rapidly move your eyes back and forth while recalling your boss's comments. Any time the memory enters your mind again, repeat the process. It will reduce the emotional content of the memory, making it less disruptive to your life. You'll be more calm, which may allow you to think more clearly and rationally. You have the responsibility to form a good relationship with your boss, and getting angry will not help. Talk to your boss after the meeting and ask if there is a problem with your work and what you can do to correct it. It is in your best interest to have a good relationship with everyone you work with, but with your boss especially.

Ruminations, worry, and racing mind when you're trying to sleep

If you find yourself ruminating about an event when you are trying to sleep, use REOT to calm your mind. The memory will lose its emotional content, allowing you to sleep. Continue oscillating your eyes back and forth until your anxiety subsides. Any thought that enters your mind -- good or bad -- can prevent you from sleeping. Simply move your eyes back and forth fairly rapidly for any unwanted thought and then observe the sensation of the air flowing in and out of your nostrils until you fall asleep. For non-emotional thoughts, sometimes only one lateral movement of your eyes or "swipe" is all it takes to quiet your mind.

Generalized Anxiety

The practice of REOT can help when you relax when you feel overly stressed. Simply close your eyes and rapidly move them back and forth for a few seconds. Then relax for a few moments while observing your breath (see mindfulness practices). Again move your eyes back and forth for a few more seconds and then observe your breath. Repeat this process several times until you feel calm.

Meditation "Monkey-mind"

If you are a meditation practitioner plagued with "monkey-mind," you may have been advised to simply observe the thought but not process it. For a lot of us, that is easier said than done. Instead you can "erase" the thought with REOT. You'll be better able to calm your mind and achieve equanimity, peace, and tranquility. Any time a thought enters your mind, simply move your eyes back and forth once or twice rapidly like a thought eraser. After a while, one "swipe" is all it takes to wipe out an unwanted thought.

The use of REOT can dramatically improve your life. It can help you sleep better and resolve problems from a logical rather than emotional stance. Try it. You'll find that it does indeed work. I use it all the time. And you don't need a prescription or an appointment with a therapist to use it.

Author's Bio: 

David Benjamin Pollack is a psychology and neuroscience journalist. He studied mental health counseling at Adams State University and is an avid blogger. He runs workshops on various topics such as self-esteem, stress management, and happiness.