Our eyes are very complicated organs, capable of distinguishing the smallest parts of our surroundings and interpreting the slightest discrepancy in another’s countenance. And yet, we seldom make direct eye contact with one another for more than a quick second.
It can feel weird to lock eyes for too long during a typical talk, but what is the reason of that awkwardness? Apart from different cultural connotations and social dos and don’ts that surround eye contact, there is a chance to build real connection with the people who matter to us. Truly “seeing” another is one more checkpoint on the medicine journey—a place to step outside of your ego and into your higher self. Eye gazing—very different from eye contact—is a way to do just that. You’ll be shocked at what you’ll see and the emotions you’ll have during the experience. It seldom disappoints. The greatness of the exercise below is that it’s very simple, yet so rarely performed, even with our most intimate relationships. There’s amazing strength to gazing with someone you’re already in tight relationship with (friends, lovers, and family), but it’s just as beautiful to do it with total strangers.
The Eye Gazing Exercise:
1. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
2. Sit across from your partner, best cross-legged on a soft carpet or cushion, arms-length apart.
3. Shut your eyes and take several deep breaths.
4. Open your lids and look into the eyes of the person in front of you. Let the muscles in your face and body respond naturally to whatever is happening in the gaze. This isn’t a staring contest; blinking is allowed.
5. No talking. After the ten minutes have passed, it’s up to you whether you want to share your experience with your partner. Sometimes a discussion seems like a natural extension of what you just went through, and other times it feels more appropriate to just thank one another and allow the experience to be what it is.
Buddhist teachings teach us that we are mirrors for one another, living reflections of both the light and the darkness that exist in our inner worlds. With our busy lives, it’s simple to forget to honor that sacred link. We have to open up if we are to help one another in this life.