Have you ever wondered how to meditate with your eyes open?
Some people do not enjoy closing their eyes during meditation; they feel overwhelmed or too sleepy.
Although closing your eyes at the start of your practice is part of what Patanjali called ‘Pratyahara’ or sense withdrawal in his Eight Limbs of Yoga system, for some, this may not be the best approach.
If you feel this way, you may be pleased to hear that you can practice meditation with open eyes and even gain more benefit from doing so.
In this article, we will discuss the reasons for practicing meditation with open eyes, how to meditate with your eyes open, and you will also read about a few open eye meditation benefits available to you.
Why Practice Meditation with Open Eyes?
Many people find closing their eyes during meditation, difficult or uncomfortable.
Also, for some, when they meditate with closed eyes, they fall asleep. While peaceful, this does not provide results.
Closing your eyes during meditation does have its benefits. It helps you to focus inward rather than on what you can see in front of you.
It also limits potential distractions and refocuses your awareness onto the other senses, such as hearing and sensation.
But despite this,many ancient spiritual traditions practice meditation with open eyes.
Open Eye Meditation in Ancient Spiritual Traditions
Tibetan Buddhists believe that closing your eyes during meditation encourages the mind to create distracting mental images.
In this tradition, practitioners softly gaze downward at a 45-degree angle during meditation.
A form of open eye meditation called Trataka is popular in Hinduism and yoga philosophy.
Trataka involves gazing at a candle flame without blinking for as long as you can. The eyes water, the vision blurs, and the third eye of intuition and inner knowing awakens.
Yogis use this meditation as a cleansing ritual, known as a Shat Kriya.
Zen Buddhists practice a form of meditation called Zazen, where the traditional way is to keep your eyes half-open.
The Zen Buddhists believe that closing your eyes dulls the mind and inhibits the development of ‘Kan’ or observation.
Kan is the core aspect of Zazen because it is the path toward insight into the nature of existence, the whole purpose of Zen.
Buddhists of most traditions practice walking meditation, which is performed with open eyes for practical reasons.
It would be dangerous to do with your eyes closed as you may bump into something or fall over and hurt yourself.
Open Eye Meditation Benefits
We have discussed why some spiritual traditions practice meditation with open eyes.
Now let’s look at some of the benefits that you can enjoy from choosing to meditate this way.
1: You will feel less sleepy with your eyes open.
There is much less risk of actually falling asleep when you meditate with your eyes open.
If you find staying awake during meditation hard, especially at the end of the day, you will benefit from practicing meditation with open eyes.
2: You can meditate in places where it would look weird for you to close your eyes.
We often have a spare five or ten minutes during the day – for example, when waiting for a bus or a doctor’s appointment.
Usually, we use this time to scroll through social media or read celebrity magazines, none of which benefits us very much.
Why not use this time to do a short meditation?
It can sometimes feel strange to close your eyes in public places, so gazing downward at something can appear less weird and feel more comfortable.
In this way, you can effectively use those small pockets of free time for something positive.
3: You can build your concentration and observation skills.
Learning how to meditate with your eyes open will enable you to concentrate better and develop more effective awareness and perception skills.
When you focus your attention on a single object and observe it without judgment or analysis, you strengthen your ability to concentrate and see things as they really are.
Our experiences and opinions often skew our perception, and so practicing seeing something as it is can be a valuable skill to develop.
How to Meditate with Your Eyes Open
There are many ways in which you can practice meditation with open eyes.
If this method is new to you, it may feel tricky at first, but like all new skills, it takes practice, patience, and persistence.
The key is to be gentle and kind to yourself and practice daily for best results.
Here are some of the most effective ways to learn how to meditate with your eyes open.
1: Focus on a single object and see it as it is without judgment.
You can practice this by looking at a single object, such as a flower, a spiritual image, or statue.
Focus 100% of your attention on this object, and notice every line, shape, shadow, highlight, and curve.
When your thoughts begin to wander, bring them back to the item.
Try to see the object for what it is and disregard your judgment and analysis.
Observe what is there in front of you, just as it is.
This exercise is excellent for building your skills in concentration and observation.
2: Sit in front of a blank wall.
This is the technique that beginners to Zazen employ to help them concentrate.
If you have nothing of interest in front of you, it is much easier to maintain awareness on your meditation.
Ensure that there are no objects in your peripheral vision to distract you.
Half close your eyes and soften your gaze to reduce eye fatigue and strain.
3: Practice walking meditation.
Softly focus your gaze down and in front of your feet.
Become aware of the sensations in your body as your feet connect with and leave the floor.
Ensure that you are in a large enough space to walk without bumping into objects or other people.
Enjoy the rhythm of your footsteps and the freedom of walking without having an end destination.
There are many open eye meditation benefits, and this method may bring better results for some people.
There are many opportunities to practice meditation with open eyes every day, and you can do it for as little as five minutes.
So why not bring more presence into your daily life by learning how to meditate with your eyes open?
You may just find that inner peace isn’t as elusive as you once believed.