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Erric Solomon

Why we should try meditating with Open Eyes!

Why do we always recommend meditating with our eyes open? So, asked my stepfather the other day. He learned to meditate in the What Meditation Really Is classes held in New York City. And now, he goes to a different meditation group on Sundays, sometimes attended by 100 or so people, and everyone else meditates with their eyes closed.


As Sogyal Rinpoche says: “Meditation is practice for the rest of our life!” In other words, we practice meditation in order to become so familiar with the state of non-distraction that when we are moving around going to work, doing errands, meeting friends or even while writing blog posts,  we still remain in that state, mindfully aware.

I asked my step father if he went about his day with his eyes open or closed? Not surprisingly, he replied: “Eyes open, of course.”

If we are only familiar with being in the state of non-distraction when we have our eyes closed, then how likely is it that we remain mindfully aware while we are involved in the full glory and business of daily life?

Back when everyone read newspapers, there used to be a daily comic strip called Li’l Abner. His job has to test mattresses. So, he woke up every morning, went to work and then he went to sleep. So, unless our job is like Li’l Abner’s, we may want to either learn to meditate with our eyes open or learn to do all our daily activities with our eyes shut. Which one sounds more difficult?

Learning to meditate with our eyes open

If you are just beginning to learn to meditate, then you don’t have a strong habit of how you meditate yet and can just start by meditating with your eyes open.

Here’s a link to our on-line guide to meditation explaining about our sitting posture and how our gaze can be during a session of practice.

But meditators who have come to our classes, who have been “closed eyes” meditators for years find it very distracting to begin a session with their eyes open.

Here’s one way to transform the habit that has worked for nearly everyone who has tried it:

Begin you session as you normally do with your eyes closed. After a little while, when you feel like you have really arrived in the state of non-distraction, gently open your eyes. Rest your gaze lightly on an object like a flower or a candle. Gently, keep your attention on the object. When that becomes too distracting, close your eyes and repeat the process.

You can learn more about using an object for meditation here, it is the second video.

So give it a try and let us know how it goes or ask a question in the comments section below.