closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby chickenman » Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:22 pm

just curious... some meditation techniques will suggest the meditator keep his eyes opened, focusing on an object, while other techniques suggest the eyes be kept closed. i'm looking for some insight as to why this is and what is the benifit of one over the other.
it is my (limited) experience that with the eyes open it is harder to calm the monkey mind. it would seem logical that the less sensory input one would have to process, the easier it would be to combat distractions. it's hard enough to deal with distracting sounds, let alone processing the distracting images that come from opened eyes. or do i have this all wrong?
any opinions?
thank you.
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby Jainarayan » Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:56 pm

I can only give my experience. When I do mālā japa I close my eyes and focus on the mantra. In my case it's a name of Vishnu. I also do mālā japa with om mani padme hum. Thoughts come and go, and I just let them. Other times I meditate on Vishnu (my ishta-devata) using a yantra, keeping my eyes half open, but fixed on the yantra. Eventually everything in the surrounding area blurs and I see only the yantra. Again, thoughts come and go, and I let them go. That's all not necessarily right nor wrong for anyone else, just what I do.
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby lowlydog » Fri Jan 18, 2013 5:28 pm

chickenman wrote:just curious... some meditation techniques will suggest the meditator keep his eyes opened, focusing on an object, while other techniques suggest the eyes be kept closed. i'm looking for some insight as to why this is and what is the benifit of one over the other.
it is my (limited) experience that with the eyes open it is harder to calm the monkey mind. it would seem logical that the less sensory input one would have to process, the easier it would be to combat distractions. it's hard enough to deal with distracting sounds, let alone processing the distracting images that come from opened eyes. or do i have this all wrong?
any opinions?
thank you.


I'm taught to keep eyes closed at all times during seated meditation, for the less sensory input reason. But the practice is not only meant to be a formal practice it is meant to be developed to the point where one does this 24/7 in all positions the body finds itself in. So as progression is made one can practice with eyes open and eyes closed. We are additionally asked not to practice outdoors for the same reason, it is difficult to pinpoint the fine breath when one is beginning the practice and sitting with wind blowing on the face.
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jan 18, 2013 6:43 pm

For me closing the eyes helps calm excitement if needed, for instance to further focus on breath. I was taught that the ideal is eyes half open, but wide open or closed eyes are helpful to find the middle ground between over excitement and dullness, IME of course. There are also forms of Shamatha and Vipassana that involve visual objects, obviously can't do those with eyes closed. Sensory input can be hard to deal with, but eventually like everything else it becomes an object of examination by my understanding, so eyes being open or closed seems to just be a means to end, rather than a rule.

Personally I can only do visualizations with my eyes open for some reason, not sure why that is.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby bryanskrantz » Tue May 21, 2013 2:06 pm

I find it easier for me to do closed eye meditation. staring at the blackness helps me center.
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue May 21, 2013 4:17 pm

What I do is, if I notice that my eyes are open, I close them and if i notice they are closed I open them.
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby lobster » Tue May 21, 2013 4:38 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:What I do is, if I notice that my eyes are open, I close them and if i notice they are closed I open them.
.


That is a good approach.

At the moment the
Shikantaza I am using advocates half open, eyes down
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shikantaza

Previously and most natural for me is
lhatong, in which the eyes are wide open and straight ahead
http://vitaminsusa1.blogspot.co.uk/2010 ... ek-14.html

There may be more mind wandering with eyes closed initially, hence the half open recommendation.
Whatever taught and places one at ease is good. :anjali:
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby Karma K Sonam » Tue May 21, 2013 8:30 pm

Eyes open. I find that when I close my eyes that my monkey mind goes nuts. Eyes open is much, much better. I was taught from the start that it was eyes open as that helped us to be more "present" :smile:
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby TeeFah » Tue May 21, 2013 10:13 pm

Hello _/\_

I have seen everyone say everything about this issue x'3 One master say eyes closed, other master say eyes open...In the end it's just confusion left, not really helpful to meditate !
So, why not consider it in the middle then: if more comfortable eyes open, then open eyes. If more comfortable the countrary, then let's do the countrary.
When I meditate I don't really know eyes open/closed. This is my body's buisness, not my mind. Usually when I begin it's eyes closed, but the more long and deep the meditation become, the more they open. But I don't "see" the room or anything, so it's not distracting, because when meditate we have to work on our mind and not on our bodies.
Eyes open can be not good when there is agitation, for example when I meditate eyes open I don't see what happen around me, but a quick movement from a cat or someone entering the door can destroy instantly my focus, as my eyes will be instinctively attracted to the source of the sudden change.
I guess this happen because I am not yet very good :tongue: For someone that totally have focus or control over instinct and body, it must not be a hindrance.

AUM
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue May 21, 2013 10:46 pm

TeeFah wrote:Hello _/\_

I have seen everyone say everything about this issue x'3 One master say eyes closed, other master say eyes open...In the end it's just confusion left, not really helpful to meditate !
So, why not consider it in the middle then: if more comfortable eyes open, then open eyes. If more comfortable the countrary, then let's do the countrary.
When I meditate I don't really know eyes open/closed. This is my body's buisness, not my mind. Usually when I begin it's eyes closed, but the more long and deep the meditation become, the more they open. But I don't "see" the room or anything, so it's not distracting, because when meditate we have to work on our mind and not on our bodies.
Eyes open can be not good when there is agitation, for example when I meditate eyes open I don't see what happen around me, but a quick movement from a cat or someone entering the door can destroy instantly my focus, as my eyes will be instinctively attracted to the source of the sudden change.
I guess this happen because I am not yet very good :tongue: For someone that totally have focus or control over instinct and body, it must not be a hindrance.

AUM



I think the idea is at some point you get better at using things in the environment that are distractions as meditation objects, or even distraction itself, noises and visuals etc. can be used as objects, or at least just appearances you don't need to involve yourself in.. Loud kids help!
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby In the bone yard » Thu May 23, 2013 11:16 pm

lowlydog wrote:
chickenman wrote:just curious... some meditation techniques will suggest the meditator keep his eyes opened, focusing on an object, while other techniques suggest the eyes be kept closed. i'm looking for some insight as to why this is and what is the benifit of one over the other.
it is my (limited) experience that with the eyes open it is harder to calm the monkey mind. it would seem logical that the less sensory input one would have to process, the easier it would be to combat distractions. it's hard enough to deal with distracting sounds, let alone processing the distracting images that come from opened eyes. or do i have this all wrong?
any opinions?
thank you.


I'm taught to keep eyes closed at all times during seated meditation, for the less sensory input reason. But the practice is not only meant to be a formal practice it is meant to be developed to the point where one does this 24/7 in all positions the body finds itself in. So as progression is made one can practice with eyes open and eyes closed. We are additionally asked not to practice outdoors for the same reason, it is difficult to pinpoint the fine breath when one is beginning the practice and sitting with wind blowing on the face.


+1
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri May 24, 2013 1:12 am

Several people have mentioned the drawback of eyes-open, i.e. distraction, but none have mentioned what (for me) is the main drawback of eyes-closed, i.e. dullness, drowsiness and :zzz:
I originally learned eyes-closed and was mostly okay with that, then went to a different group where eyes-open was recommended and learned to be okay with that too. I now prefer eyes-open because it is easier to remain alert but I don't think it matters much.

:meditate:
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby seeker242 » Fri May 24, 2013 4:49 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Several people have mentioned the drawback of eyes-open, i.e. distraction, but none have mentioned what (for me) is the main drawback of eyes-closed, i.e. dullness, drowsiness and :zzz:
I originally learned eyes-closed and was mostly okay with that, then went to a different group where eyes-open was recommended and learned to be okay with that too. I now prefer eyes-open because it is easier to remain alert but I don't think it matters much.

:meditate:
Kim


I find it much easier to fall asleep with eyes closed!
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby Martin007 » Fri May 24, 2013 2:33 pm

chickenman wrote:..it's hard enough to deal with distracting sounds, let alone processing the distracting images that come from opened eyes.


As others have mentioned there are pros and cons. Obviously if meditating with eyes open then it's sensible not to be looking at images that are distracting. ;)
I've found that there is always distraction of some sort, it's how we deal with them that's important.
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby TaTa » Fri May 24, 2013 4:50 pm

Half open or open. I almost dont use eyes fully closed exept when my body is not relaxed enough and the tension makes my eyes cross. Also I findt it easier to do formless meditation and vizualisation with eyes fully open and looking straight foward. I find that i have more alertness with my eyes open, this was a problem while doing a goenka retreat XD.

One of the reasons to meditate with your eyes open is because then its easier to carry to daily life. Also half open is the middle way between agitation and dulness.
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby Greg_the_poet » Sat May 25, 2013 2:34 am

Eyes closed feels nicer, but at the same time it's much easier to daydream or fall asleep. I do Zazen and eyes are kept open, but cast downwards. It's not about trying to calm oneself or stop thinking, but to allow the mind to obtain it's natural state by itself. Just allowing thoughts to come and go and allowing the breath to rise and fall without getting caught up in anything.
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby mandala » Sat May 25, 2013 12:21 pm

Agree with Kim - closed eyes make me sleepy & day-dreamy.

I guess it comes down to the main 2 distractions to meditation - over excitement and dullness. So for some who feel distracted by open eyes, closed can help.. or if you're nodding off, open eyes..

The trick i find with open eyes, is to have the eyelids very softly half-open... as you allow your eyelids to be a bit 'heavy' and close slightly, your gaze naturally softens (goes slightly out of focus). I avert my gaze downwards, along the length of my nose. So you're alert but the visuals are more just periphery.
For me, it helps to have a plain background, like a white wall/plain carpet.
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby Monsoon » Sat May 25, 2013 10:14 pm

That's what I find too! Mind you I am very short-sighted, so if I take my glasses off I cannot focus on anything anyway (not sure whether that defeats the purpose of having the eyes open or not, but there it is).

What I have found is that I start off with my eyes closed and as the session progresses I notice that the lids gradually end up in a quarter or half open position. Happens very gently and doesn't disturb the practice at all. On the other hand, if I sit and try to keep my eyes open it feels like an effort to do so and a little distracting. YMMV, as the saying goes.
Let peace reign!

Metta,

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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby lobster » Sun May 26, 2013 2:20 am

Many meditators are entering trance states. They leave deeply relaxing bliss outs. In reality if you get up from a formal meditation, without having entered or left, you will tend to do so with your eyes open . . . :smile:
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Re: closed eyes vs. opened eyes

Postby Martin007 » Sun May 26, 2013 11:21 am

TaTa wrote:Half One of the reasons to meditate with your eyes open is because then its easier to carry to daily life.


Could you elaborate on this? What is being carried to daily life, and why is the carrying easier with open eyes?
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