Many people tend to associate meditation with a certain image. An ideal, Zen-like state comes to mind when we think about the art of meditation. Perhaps we picture a person—eyes closed, hands placed together, while seated in a Lotus position—most probably deep in focus and full of peace.
In other words, a perfect depiction of a successful meditation practice.
This is the end goal for many of us who meditate. But let’s face it—not everyone has the luxury to meditate under such circumstances. The reality for many of us is an office chair in a cubicle—not exactly anyone’s idea of a tranquil meditation spot.
What Is Open Eye Meditation?
Did you know that there is another form of meditation, that can be utilized regardless of your current surroundings?
Open Eye Meditation gives us the opportunity to practice, no matter where we are, or how much time we have to spare. It is simple proof that we do not need to be isolated in order to meditate.
As the name suggests, Open Eye Meditation simply means to meditate with our eyes open.
This may appear to contradict normal practices for many people. After all, the point of closing one’s eyes during meditation is to minimize the distractions that we encounter.
But what many of us don’t realize is that Open Eye Meditation is perhaps the most powerful form of meditation there is.
By exposing ourselves to our surroundings, we allow ourselves to become vulnerable to interruptions. In order to practice meditation like this, a stronger sense of focus is required.
The Benefits Of Open Eye Meditation
The mind processes as many as 50,000 thoughts every single day. Couple this with the countless demands and expectations we face daily, it’s understandable why we can feel so stressed.
This is the very reason many people look to meditation in the first place—as a source of calmness.
Unfortunately, there are also a lot of people who fall out of their practice after some time. They may claim that their environment makes it difficult to find peace, or that their conditions are not favorable for meditation.
But in reality, it is during these moments that meditation is needed the most.
The problem with the common meditation practice is that it isn’t something that can be done at any moment. We don’t want to come across as sleeping on the job simply because our eyes were closed for meditation. And speaking of sleep, I can speak from experience that some of us may be guilty of drifting off halfway through our practice.
Simply put, Closed Eye Meditation may not be for everyone. Whatever the case may be, Open Eye Meditation is a valuable option. Here are some reasons why:
It Is Easy To Learn
If you have meditated in the past, it will be easy to shift to an Open Eye Meditation practice.
The premise is simple: instead of doing your practice with your eyes closed, simply keep them open. The key is to bring your focus to one single spot.
One might argue that meditating with open eyes isn’t easy at all. While there is definitely a learning curve that needs to be gone through, you will find that focusing becomes a lot easier the more you practice.
Beginners may find that they can develop their meditation practice more easily by focusing on something visually, rather than getting lost in daydreams.
It Can Be Done Anywhere
The problem with meditating with your eyes closed is that you need to be in a certain environment.
Many practitioners think that a certain set of conditions make a place suitable for meditation. Perhaps it is a room with total silence, or an open space where they can sit or lie on the floor.
But for most of us, this place sadly isn’t always available.
The best thing about Open Eye Meditation is that it can be done anywhere. Once you master this practice, it won’t matter whether you are seated in tranquility or walking through a noisy room.
As long as you are in a space where you won’t be disturbed by others, you will be able to meditate.
It Gives You More Clarity
Many people who practice Closed Eye Meditation often struggle with focus. This is because closing our eyes can allow the mind to wander within our thoughts.
Instead, Open Eye Meditation requires focus on only one single area.
It is a lot easier for the mind to rest when focusing on something visual rather than something that isn’t. That being said, a person who practices Open Eye Meditation will develop stronger concentration skills than one who does not.
Now that you know the benefits of this type of meditation, how do you start practicing it? Read on below to find out…
8 Tips On How To Master Open Eye Meditation
1. Choose An Object To Focus On…
The first step is to choose an object to focus on.
This could be something currently available in your surroundings, or it could be an object you keep with you. The best option is to pick an everyday item—something that does not necessarily inspire your mind to roam.
For example, a wall calendar or a clock might not be an ideal object to focus on, as it could remind you of deadlines or important events to come. A pencil, on the other hand, may not necessarily be associated with any stressful issue. Choose an item which will not sway your thoughts.
2. …Or Look Down At The Floor
Some people find that looking straight at an object is too difficult. Instead of focusing, their thoughts tend to roam, no matter what kind of object is staring back at them. If you are experiencing the same difficulty, try looking down at the floor or to your feet.
Our open eyes will be tempted to look at other things, especially in an environment with a lot of things to look at. That’s why looking down at your feet or to the floor works—you are limiting the amount of visual material your eyes can wander to.
3. Practice Breathing Exercises
While focusing on your chosen object, the next few minutes of your practice is the time to do some breathing exercises.
There are 3 breathing exercises that are said to reduce stress and lower anxiety levels. Feel free to choose one to your liking. What is important is to pace your breathing during this step.
As you are controlling your breaths, relax your body and mind. Allow yourself to come to a comfortable position, and remember to keep your focus on your chosen object.
4. Allow Yourself To Be Externally Aware
After a few rounds of breathing exercises, let your eyes travel across the room.
Take a quick look at your surroundings and be aware of them. Try not to dwell on any object for too long, just acknowledge their presence as you are doing this.
Let the images flow as they are. And as you are observing your surroundings, try to empty your mind of lingering thoughts. Be present in the moment, and simply notice what is around you.
5. Bring Your Focus Back Internally
Now that you have given attention to the things around you, bring your focus back to yourself. If your breathing has slipped, resume control of your breaths.
Notice the rate of your heartbeat, and slowly pay attention to how your body is feeling. Start from your feet and work your way up to your head.
Notice the surface your feet are resting on. Be aware of the clothes that stick to your skin, or the chair you sit upon. Take note of any body pains you may be experiencing at this time as well.
6. Be Open And Ready For Acceptance
During this step, allow yourself to be in the present. Accept the events that are occurring around you and slowly connect your presence with them.
Acknowledge that you are a part of this cycle and that you are simply reacting to its effects.
Use this time to truly pay attention to what is actually happening. Many times, we are so focused on how we see our surroundings that we forget to see them from the perspective of others. By reconnecting with our environment, we will be more mindful of our own actions.
7. Learn How To Detach
As you are re-attaching yourself to the present moment, with all its demands and expectations, you might begin to feel its pressures once again.
Accept that this is a normal state and that it is simply a reaction to your surroundings.
During this step, practice detaching from negative emotions. You must first accept their presence in your current situation, and then let them go.
In order to move forward from this place you are stuck in, you need to unhand any negative thoughts. Surrender yourself to other possibilities with a positive attitude.
8. Find Your Center
If you can, regain your focus back to your chosen object. Treat it as a tool that can help you find your center. Use it to gain focus or to reconnect with the present without investing too much of yourself.
Assume the role of “watcher” and simply observe events as they come and go. Try to incorporate this habit into your daily routine. Not only will you be surprised of its effect on your ability to concentrate, you can also find peace wherever you may be.
Switching Between Closed Eye And Open Eye Meditation
You might be wondering if it is possible to switch between Closed Eye and Open Eye Meditation. The rule of thumb is to listen to what your mind needs at a given moment.
There is no single and correct way to meditate—the perfect practice is the one that works for you.
If you feel that Closed Eye Meditation is more beneficial, there should be no pressure to shift to an Open Eye Meditation practice. But if, like many others, you would like your practice to be accessible anywhere you go, you might want to give it a try.
This is not to say that either method is superior to the other. The same benefits can be reaped, no matter which method you choose.
But one important note to remember is consistency. In order to truly succeed in your practice, you need to choose a method that best fits your personality and your lifestyle.
What To Expect From Open Eye Meditation
Just like any form of meditation, Open Eye Meditation is not a quick fix to finding inner peace.
It is still a practice that needs time to develop. You may find that the more you integrate this habit into your daily life, the easier it becomes to be more mindful and to gain focus in whatever you are currently doing.
If you are someone who finds it difficult to practice Open Eye Meditation, allow yourself to get used to it for a couple of days before making a decision.
Many of us are more familiar with meditating with our eyes closed. We are so used to using our closed eyes as a tool to deflect distractions that it’s no surprise that keeping your eyes open feels odd and uncomfortable in the beginning.
Once you feel that you have mastered Sitting Open Eye Meditation, you may want to level up the challenge by trying Walking Open Eye Meditation.
The purpose of this practice is to gain focus and to become more mindful of the present. Once you are able to do so while sitting, you will find it pays to practice mindfulness no matter what you are currently doing.
Allen Wei is someone who believes in living his best life, focusing on balance, happiness, and relaxation. He fosters a positive lifestyle in terms of his body, mind, and environment, and he is a huge proponent of learning to be balanced via relaxation techniques integrated into our busy lives.