Meditating With Your Eyes Open: A Guide

13/01/2016 7:56 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST via Getty Images
A young woman performing a yoga routine on the beach in the summer sun

The average adult has 90,000 thoughts every single day, with each one generating a response of some kind in the body.

If you combine that with our coffee-chugging, scrolling-frenzied daily grind, it’s no wonder we humans are lacking the chill-factor.

Sure, we try. Just ask the 678,551 mindful hopefuls who’ve downloaded a meditation app with plans to lock themselves in a room each day in order to find their Zen. But are we all just trying too hard? And can meditation be practiced in a more laidback environment? With our eyes open, perhaps?

“With meditation as a whole we are trying to generate self-awareness, connection to self and being able to regulate stress and also increase our happiness -- this can be achieved with both eyes-open and eyes-closed practice,” Jacqui Lewis, principal of The Broad Place told The Huffington Post Australia.

“But a lot of meditation techniques just bring about relaxation which is important to note,” Lewis said.

Lewis started her meditation journey 16 years ago and likens the different meditation practices to different types of exercise in the sense that each practice garners different results.

“You practice them differently, and you practice them for different reasons. So depending on what you want to get out of your practice should really dictate what type of meditation you do,” Lewis said.

You don’t need to be in cocoon silence to meditate, either.

“Meditating with your eyes open can mean focusing the attention or gaze on a candle flame or looking out into a horizon line,” Lewis said.

Other forms of open-eye practice include moving meditation which is a silent Zen practice.

“This is where you repeat your actions over and over again for example, ‘I am walking, I am walking’ -- this works to harmonise the mind and body together helping you to be aware in the present moment,” Lewis said.

Other moving meditation techniques can include karate and some kung-fu -- where eyes can be open or closed.

Closed-eye practice can also be when eyes are soft or half closed with no specific focus.

“As if you were gazing off into the distance and just allowing the vista to be there, but not focus on it,” Emma Seibold, creator of Barre Body and holistic wellness coach told HuffPost Australia.

Of course, as anyone who’s drifted off to sleep at the end of a yoga class would know, closed-eye meditation can often equate to shut eye.

“The biggest benefit to open-eye meditation is not falling asleep. Seeing is just another sense, much like hearing and smelling and so part of the practice is being able to go inward and not be distracted by the senses,” Seibold said.

“When eyes are closed, daydreams are said to be more 'noisier' and more persistent as well,” Seibold said.

This is because the meditator is trying hard to evict them from their meditation space, but with eyes open, it’s easier to let those thoughts go, as your sense of sight is placing you in the present moment.

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