Eye Gazing, Personality, Possibility
While eye gazing can be a formal practice with a meditative quality and powerful results, it can also be a way to connect with others during normal, brief, everyday encounters with personality and manipulations set aside. Eye gazing, as the name implies, involves simply looking into the eyes of another human being (cats are really good at it too—hey, try it with anybeast willing to gaze back). When I have people practice eye-gazing in workshops (and I do this a lot, because I love it, and they love it), the single most important instruction I offer is to gaze with plain face. There's no need to suppress anything that comes up—sometimes a smile just takes you, or you have to scratch your nose—but the idea is to let any facial expressions melt back into plain face as quickly as they arise.
Plain face, in part, allows you to drop personality and just connect at the soul level, that place where we're all one and no detail of similarity or difference matters in the least. I'm not against personality. In fact, it's one of my great fascinations. I was musing about what the different types on the Enneagram might be up to when they make eye contact, and this led to me to create a word caricature of each of the nine types in action. Check them out:
Another thing plain face allows is the absence of manipulation—what else is personality up to? (Please note that I'm not saying that's bad. We're all just trying to get our needs met, whether we need to or not.) It's so useful to notice how putting anything on the face constitutes manipulation. It can actually be frightening to people, or discomfiting at the very least, to just look at other human beings without organizing themselves around some facial structure to either communicate or hide something—often both at once: I'm doing this thing with my cheeks and mouth and eyes because I want you to like me, or I want you to think I like you; I'm reassuring you, me, both of us, neither—because something about it feels off; I live in the U.S. so I think I'm supposed to smile all the time, I think smiling is good and not smiling is bad, and maybe you'll think I'm not nice if I don't; I'm uncomfortable because we had that awkward moment at the picnic table—remember? I do, obsessively; I'm actually not here because I've jumped ahead to what my boss will say about that slapdash report—this smile is my stand-in; I'm super attracted to you and can't figure out if you're attracted to me, which throws me off but I don't want you to know I'm thrown off, so I'm throwing myself into willing face, body, and clothing to strike that sweet spot between sexy-and-aloof and girl-next-door-welcoming; I'm out of sorts and don't wish to be seen right now—my face is a mask and my enthusiasm about you is a decoy; I've got this little bruise under one rib from yelling at my kid earlier and somehow stopping to really look at you is like pressing hard right where it's tender—my defense is to act way more rushed than I actually am because I cannot get away from you fast enough.
Make Eye Gazing a Practice
All of that is just human. If you're happy to be caught up in all the feelings and thoughts and defenses and manipulations, there's really no problem. If you'd like to (even sometimes) make your movement through the world a sort of walking meditation; if you'd like to connect with the people you meet beyond personality (or simply meet consciousness in other sentient beings—same thing), then try eye-gazing. As a formal practice, you sit or stand across from another willing eye-gazer, and gaze for a set amount of time (could be 2 minutes, half an hour—whatever you're up for) or for an open period to be ended by either party at any time. To bring it into your daily world, simply go about your business conscious of meeting eyes in this way, if only for a few seconds or even a fraction of one.
How It Works
The way to drop personality, externally, is with plain face. Internally, you can witness what comes up for you without judgment and just leave it alone—since nonjudgmental witnessing also means there's no need to shove anything down, adjust it, or feel bad about it. Then, just as you keep coming back to the breath or a mantra in sitting meditation, you can seek to keep bringing your focus back to simply meeting another set of eyes to connect to the mirror-soul gazing back. Byron Katie taught me the crazy-brilliant concept of not taking our own thoughts personally. We just don't have to identify with the stuff that streams through the mind as normally as oxygen streams through air. Just let it go by, along with your impulses to make any impressions on (manipulate) others with your smiles and other facial expressions. Look into eyes with plain face while witnessing the mind, and move on. Without all the bullshit and false identification, you'll feel closer to others and to yourself.
When the morning routine with my son feels like a criss-crossing through the house navigating bathroom kitchen stairs refrigerator-doors toaster-oven reminders and where-did-that-thing-get-to?—I stop him in the moment of parting with a single word: “Eyes.” He's such a good sport. He pauses and turns my way with his beautiful, clear, miraculous blue eyes. Something palpable (visible?) happens in this dropping in, a moment of finding each other. Sometimes his face relaxes, or a little smile plays across his whole demeanor, or some small anxiety prevails and I tune in to that and hold him just a moment longer when we hug goodbye.
Should I even bother spelling out the application to couple life? Okay, let me put it in terms of choice. It's a choice to allow ourselves to play the ships-passing-in-the-night game day in and day out, or to stop and remember who the other is, who we are together, all that's still possible that we haven't even gotten to. It's a choice to think in terms of “I know all about you” (or worse, “Oh, you again”) versus “I'm still discovering you right here, right now, and I must pause to savor this moment of discovery.” But even beyond all that, there's the fact I'm a soul and you're a soul and we can provide each other the marvelous service of offering a plain mirror to reflect that—to remember that—a spacious mirror that holds acceptance, unconditional love, forgiveness for everything, openness to anything.
If you play with eye gazing out in the world, you might find that things feel a lot easier, because you're just connecting—not striving in any way, not manipulating, not putting anything on. You also maintain a better connection with yourself because your energies aren't all dispersed and externalized. What could come up that's (initially) unpleasant is the discomfort of bypassing your default settings for how to be out in the world and how to meet and greet people—and these things are in place to give you the safety and familiarity of a set identity.
Why bother to step out of this known territory? Well, it's like any movement out of the comfort zone. It will grow you in marvelous, unexpected ways. It will open to you a realm of experience you haven't entered yet. It will show you what else is possible, and this will affect you in every part of your life.
If you play with eye gazing as a formal practice, you may witness any amount of awkwardness moving through your mind and body, and you may (initially) hate watching the workings of your own mind as it worries about what the other thinks of you, or catches things you think of them that you don't want to think, or wanders off to make grocery lists because there's such solace in the mundane. As in any meditative practice, it helps to give some attention to your breath to anchor yourself in your own body. During a workshop last summer, I spoke these words while participants were eye gazing: “If you're not aware of your own breath right now, you're way too involved with the other person.” These words came back to me on the feedback form because people were struck by the truth of this, and by the effectiveness of moving back to the breath. Hey, if you have no interest in touching this eye gazing stuff, you could take that one piece and benefit hugely from this reading: move through the world with some of your focus always coming back to the breath.
I don't seem to tire of the topic of now—I'm pretty sure it's the last word in spiritual growth, in cultivating a sense of wonder, even in living the good life. Eye gazing brings you squarely into now. It's a pause. You can enter it fully, land in it, know that for that moment all of the Universe lands with you. In that moment, it really doesn't matter who you are, who carries the other set of eyes, what's in the past, what's in the future: right now, pure consciousness.
Could eye-gazing change your life? Could spending 30 seconds a day in this practice with your significant other make a difference? I'd bet my bottom dollar on it. If you're curious, check it out for yourself. Play with it. Experiment. (And if you're going to experiment at all, make it a grand experiment.) I find that eye gazing often yields some gorgeously surprising results, but here are the standards you can pretty much count on:
Love & blessings, Jaya
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The idea of offering an X-minute taste of coaching to get clients comes from many sectors, but I'm breaking the rules by having no stipulations around who can take me up on this. I find I get plenty of clients this way and I don't worry about how many come of it. I consider it a time tithe. I happen to love these sessions and get a lot out of them myself. It's a privilege and even a perk of this work that I get to hear the stories of amazing spirits moving with such courage through this human experience. I find it deeply gratifying to sit with people of all kinds and send them away with a new perspective on life, self, circumstances—whatever needs readjusting—so that they can do it differently, connect to all that supports them, find their own innocence, come closer to self-love, be inspired by all that's possible. The fact that I get to do this on an ongoing basis for 6 months at a time with some people never ceases to amaze me and fill me with joy and gratitude.
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Fun with Facebook
Below are my top 3 posts (in terms of number of likes and shares) in October.
Today I dare you to love yourself drastically. Be amazed by your own brilliance and talent. Adore your quirks and find yourself too endearing for words. Laugh at yourself and with yourself. If you feel contemplative, think of all you've seen and learned and achieved. Catalog the ways all your (so-called) failures and losses and false starts have contributed to who you are now and who you can next step into being. Pamper yourself, but only in totally self-honoring ways. Open a pomegranate and bring its jewels to your mouth. If you creatively tend your love affair with yourself, you can love others so much bigger, from a place full of nectar.
What about that thing that won't budge? The relationship that doesn't heal, the job that's just a grind, the chronic single status, the living space that's never home, the calling your whole heart wants to respond to but--time! money! So-and-So's disapproval! When things don't budge, we're in a consciousness of STUCK. We tell ourselves constantly, This is stuck, I'm stuck, I can't, These things or people make it impossible. ... If you want to get unstuck, make it a project. Stay with it. Give your energy to this thing as you would to your health if you had a life-threatening disease. Your stuck-ness IS a life-threatening disease. Change your consciousness & behaviors around it. Every day, invest!
The message of the day (3 clients running, so far) has clearly been BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF. As Byron Katie puts it, don't push yourself past your own evolution. Quit cataloging all you're doing wrong and notice what you're doing right. Move away from comparisons with others and just chart your own growth (personal best). Give yourself permission to be in a process, to take breaks, to pause and assess without self-attack. If you see something you want to do differently or some amends you'd like to make, great. Still, notice that there's nothing wrong and no problem with where you are right now. Love yourself.
Visit my Facebook page anytime for daily inspiration and reminders.