When you think of meditation, you probably picture someone sitting with their eyes closed.
However, do you have to close your eyes to meditate?
What about meditating with your eyes open?
Can this be done–and will you still reap the benefits of meditation?
Today we will focus on how to meditate with open eyes.
What Do I Do with My Eyes When I Meditate?
When you meditate with your eyes closed, you can reduce the number of distracting thoughts and feelings stimulated by what you see.
Some people, however, find that closing their eyes makes them sleepy and impossible for them to focus on their breathing pattern or mantra.
If this is true for you, practicing meditation with open eyes may be helpful. While it can be challenging initially, it can also provide many positive outcomes.
This type of meditation, for example, can provide the following advantages:
- It can enhance self-awareness.
- It can improve your emotional well-being.
- It can develop your patience and understanding.
- It can fine-tune your stress management skills.
- It can heighten your present-moment awareness.
- It can help you feel calmer during stressful times.
- It can promote your creative thinking and imagination.
What Is an Open Eye Meditation?
Practicing meditation with your eyes open can be done anywhere and at any time. However, it is wise to do it in a quiet place. It will reduce the possibility of other people interrupting your session.
Although you usually practice meditation in a room, you can also practice it in a natural setting, such as in a forest or at the edge of a babbling brook.
Keep your eyes open during meditation. Don’t close them even if you feel drowsy as your brain waves drop from beta to alpha to theta.
Try to focus on something. It can be something within, like an image, or without, like a candle flame. It can also be your breath or a mantra.
When your mind wanders, calmly acknowledge your distracting thoughts, let them pass, and return to what you were focusing on.
Keep your gaze soft and unfocused even if you are looking at something. Avoid straining your eyes by staring at something.
It’s usually advisable to start with just ten minutes of meditation with open eyes to ease into your meditation practice.
As you become more comfortable just sitting there and feeling restless about “not doing anything productive,” you can increase the length to twenty minutes.
After considerable practice, you may decide to meditate for an hour. Remember, meditating should be enjoyable, not a chore or an exercise of willpower.
In time, you will stop regretting the past or worrying about the future and focus more on the unfolding beauty of the present moment.
What Are the Benefits of Meditating with Eyes Open?
Meditation involves focusing the mind on a particular object. It can be something static like a mandala or something dynamic like a flickering candle flame.
You can practice it in many ways, but the most common method involves sitting cross-legged and focusing on a single sensation, sound, or image.
Even though it is traditional to keep your eyes closed during meditation, you can still benefit from it if your eyes are open.
Both open-eyed meditation and closed-eye meditation can help you relax and concentrate. Both forms of meditation can also boost immunity, improve moods, reduce stress, and boost your immune system.
However, open-eyed meditation has some unique benefits. Although it might be an exaggeration to call these benefits ‘superpowers,’ they have certainly changed the lives of many meditators for the better.
Many people who practice open-eyed meditation regularly, especially in practices like Raja Yoga, report that they gradually learn how to:
- Become stress- and anxiety-free
- Stay alert throughout the day
- Improve personal relationships
- Concentrate on a single task until completion
- Develop an enduring sense of well-being
- Increase awareness of their true Self
- Produce higher quality work at their jobs
- Earn better academic grades
- Improve memory and concentration
- Respond to others with empathy
- Increase focus and clarity
- Remain present almost all day
- Overcome self-destructive habits like smoking, drugs, and alcohol
- Witness their thoughts and emotions
- Reduce incessant mind-chatter
- Improve the quality of their sleep
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How to Meditate with Eyes Open
As a result of practicing open-eye meditation daily, you become acutely aware of the nature of your thoughts and feelings at any given moment.
It is also possible for you to experience a reduction in stress because meditation stimulates the vagus nerve and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
As a result of this neurological change, your cortisol levels decrease and your blood pressure and heart rate drop to healthier levels.
- For open-eyed meditation, it is essential to sit in a comfortable position. Depending on your needs, you can sit cross-legged on cushions or in a chair if you need back support.
- When seated in a cross-legged position, press your hips downwards and straighten your spine by envisaging your kundalini energy flowing upwards through the crown of your head.
- Set a timer for five or ten minutes once you have found a time and a place that works for you.
- After you feel both stable and comfortable as you sit, focus on your breathing to bring your mind into the present moment.
- Choose a point of focus during your meditation, such as your breath, mantra, or mandala. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to what you’re focusing on.
Here are four popular techniques for practicing meditation with open eyes:
1. Mindfulness Meditation
Focus on the present moment during an open-eyed meditation to practice mindfulness. Take note of what’s going on around you and how your body feels.
You may also want to pay attention to your breath and how it moves in and out of your body. Bring your attention back to the present moment if your mind wanders.
Focusing on specific things in nature that you notice around you can be helpful when practicing open-eyed meditation to experience mindfulness.
For example, pay attention to the movement of the trees in the wind, the sound of a babbling brook, or the way a squirrel scurries up a tree. Staying present in the moment is easier when you focus on something specific in the environment.
2. Focus Meditation
Another way to practice open-eye meditation is by focusing your gaze on an object in front of you, such as a candle flame, a flower, or a picture. Keep your eyes open in a soft gaze, not staring intently at the object.
Do not worry if your mind wanders. Bring your attention back to the object and continue meditating.
3. Visualization Meditation
Focusing on a goal or intention is also possible with open-eyed meditation. Focusing on an image that represents your goal will strengthen your willpower, stimulate your creativity, and increase your chances of achieving it.
- Before you begin, take a deep breath, and relax your eyes.
- Allow your eyes to half-open or fully open and gaze slightly downward after you have found a comfortable position.
- Visualize your goal as if you were daydreaming.
4. Sound Meditation
You don’t necessarily need to look at anything specifically during open-eyed meditation because you can also use another sense organ, such as your ears.
- If you are meditating in your room, you could listen to meditation music, paying attention to every instrument. Avoid music with lyrics, as this will probably stimulate daydreaming.
- If you meditate in nature, you can listen to the wind, the birds, or people talking. Immerse yourself in the soundscape.
- Simply bring your attention back to the sounds around you when your mind wanders.
The purpose of meditation is to give your mind and body a break from your busy and perhaps stressful life. It’s about taking the time to just be with yourself for a dedicated amount of time each day.
Closed and open-eye meditation both have their unique benefits. Closed-eye meditation is great for deep relaxation and introspection, while open-eye meditation is perfect for focus and concentration.
You can even do both closed and open-eyed meditation every day. You can, for example, meditate open-eyed in the morning to prepare for the day and closed-eyed at night to relax.