Meditate With Eyes Open?

In the blog category “Mindfulness Meditation techniques”, I will list various techniques that will help practitioners of this form of meditation. Over a period of years, I have compiled a variety of such techniques and formed a virtual toolkit from which I draw upon on a regular basis. All exercises listed in this blog category can be used as either formal techniques or as informal techniques, depending on the specific situation and circumstance. 

There are two broad kinds of mindfulness meditation: formal and informal. The formal practice is most commonly referred to in books and blog posts. This involves setting aside a set period of time to sit silently with eyes closed and to be mindfully aware of our chosen object of meditation. The informal practice involves bringing that quality of mindful awareness in all our day-to-day activities, when we are engaged with the world outside of us, with our eyes wide open. At the end of the day, both these kinds of practices strengthen and support each other. Both these practices need to be developed in order for mindfulness to arise as our default mode of perception.

A very common aspect of any formal meditation technique derived from any tradition is the fact that our eyes need to be closed. It does make sense that if we are to engage in contemplation or reflection for the purposes of reaching a deep level of awareness, it definitely helps to keep our eyes closed so as to block out visual distractions. However; in performing mindfulness meditation, we are not trying to achieve any preferred state of mind and/or a refined state of consciousness. We are simply trying to “…pay attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment…” as eloquently described by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

We can customize our meditation technique that will take advantage of our mental state during this time. For example, let us say that you sit down to perform mindfulness meditation. You close your eyes to block out visual distractions but then you find tremendous mental turbulence inside of yourself. You come back to your chosen object of meditation but find it increasingly difficult to maintain your attention. During these times, the fact that your eyes are closed might amplify the turbulence inside yourself. If you can then open your eyes slightly and take in the surrounding area close to you, it is very likely that the turbulence may reduce or even stop altogether. If this is the case, you can gently close your eyes again and continue your mindfulness meditation.

I have had my share of many meditation sessions where my own force of mental turbulence drowned out the gentle thread of attention that I was trying to pay on purpose. At the end of those sessions it felt as if I had wasted my time and I could have put it to better use elsewhere. If you find yourself in such a situation during your meditation practice, try this technique.

If you would like to share your experience, ask questions or provide helpful suggestions on this or any other blog post, then please fill out the comment form below. In a blog category entitled “Website content feedback” I will publish my answers to your questions as well as your suggestions wherever appropriate. I will be also delighted to publish your experience, if you would like me to do so. Thank you!!!

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