The Eyes (Again)

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Do you meditate with your eyes closed or open?

Eyes Open
3
14%
Eyes Closed
15
71%
Other
3
14%
 
Total votes : 21

The Eyes (Again)

Postby Collective » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:51 am

Still undecided about the eyes open or closed.

The two main books I've read; "Mindfullness, Bliss and Beyond" by Ajahn Brahm, and "Insight Meditation" (Vipassanna) by Saltzberg/Goldstein both recommend eyes closed. Yet when I meditate with my eyes open, now and again tend to enter into a blissful state of being. My entire body tingles and it's basically a very nice sensation. With my eyes closed I feel nothing. I'm not trying to acquire states of being, it's just that I get 'something' with eyes open and nothing with eyes closed. One is not better than the other in the long run, and I understand we shouldn't grasp at things, and really I'm not. I was just curious why I get the blissful sensation with my eyes open, and not when closed. So basically I would like to ask out of curiosity:

Do you meditate with eyes closed, open, do you perhaps switch half way through?

Thank you
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:41 am

Hi Collective,
A question...
Is the purpose of meditation to enter into a "very nice sensation"?
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
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but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:45 am

Collective wrote:Do you meditate with eyes closed, open, do you perhaps switch half way through?




I've meditated with eyes open for many years, partly because it keeps me awake and partly because I find eyes closed physically uncomfortable. I suspect there are pros and cons.

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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Collective » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:16 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Collective,
A question...
Is the purpose of meditation to enter into a "very nice sensation"?
kind regards

Ben

Hello Ben

No not really. I'm practising Vipassana, insight meditation. I was practising Samadhi(?). I was merely curious as to why I'd get these sensations with eyes open but never when closed.
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby cooran » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:51 pm

Hello Collective,

I use both styles - eyes open and closed. It depends on the meditation object, and whether doing sitting, standing, lying down or walking.

For sitting meditation, watching the breath or 'body scanning', I close my eyes.

If I find the dreaded 'sloth and torpor' arising, I open my eyes and continue while focusing them on a bright light - either coming in a window or electrical.

with metta
Chris
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:06 pm

cooran wrote:I use both styles - eyes open and closed. It depends on the meditation object, and whether doing sitting, standing, lying down or walking.

Yes, walking with the eyes closed isn't something I'd recommend... :D

Like Chris I mostly have my eyes closed when sitting. And I generally close my eyes when standing or turning at each end of a walking path. But I know some people find sitting with eyes open can be helpful in keeping awake, and I occasionally do that. It's also potentially useful to be comfortable with meditating with eyes open so if you have to sit in a boring lecture or meeting that turns out to be of no interest you can drop into meditation without looking asleep... :meditate:

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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:34 pm

Greetings,

Two distractions that get taken out during sitting meditation if you close your eyes are:

* The issue of blinking. If you keep your eyes open, you still have to blink, and its easy to become self-conscious about it

* The removal of visual distractions. That's one cord of sensual pleasure you've cut off for the duration of your meditation.

:meditate:

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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:37 pm

Hi Collective,

No not really. I'm practising Vipassana, insight meditation. I was practising Samadhi(?). I was merely curious as to why I'd get these sensations with eyes open but never when closed.


I would say it is merely an artefact of contact. The danger with pleasant sensation is that one is very easily seduced into craving its continuance. If you are practicing vipassana, you know that sabbe dhamma anicca, sabbe dhamma dukkha, sabbe dhamma anatta: (all phenomena are impermanent, all phenomena are a source of dukkha (when there is attachment), and all phenomena are not-self). Observing the changing nature of whatever you are observing can only be done with equanimity. Unfortunately, subtle craving can be mistaken for equanimity.

I have been practicing eyes closed for many years and despite an increased difficulties with the hindrance of sloth and torpor with eyes closed, I recommend eyes closed. Like Mike, I do practice 'eyes opened' from time to time in precisely the same situations Mike has mentioned. But my daily meditation sessions, my eyes are closed. My experience has been that I can develop deeper samadhi and my vipassana practice is better if my eyes are closed. I think it has something to do with having less sensory distractions and developing finer mental sensitivity. But that is my experience and others may be different.
Having read a couple of books, as you mentioned earlier, I think it wise that you follow one approach exclusively for awhile and see how it suits you.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:52 am

I aim for between open and closed. (The middle way!) It's what I learned. The eyes are open in the beginning, and then I let the eyelids fall by themselves (whenever) till they're barely closed. There's still a slight stream of light entering, maybe a nanometer wide.

I remember when I started, I tried to keep my eyes "half-closed." This took a lot of effort, till I finally figured just to let the eyelids fall by themselves. The top and bottom are gently touching each other... not pressed, or clamped down.
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby 5heaps » Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:32 am

in the beginning eyes closed is helpful until familiarity with concentration is achieved.
then once the meditation object is no longer easily lost eyes open seems naturally conducive against the subtler obstacles to perfect concentration

since 1 meditation session commonly involves many levels of concentration, it makes sense that someone could start off with eyes close and then switch to eyes open, even alternating at certain points.
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Phra Chuntawongso » Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:47 am

First off.I agree with with Mike.Eyes open during walking meditation. :rofl: I also tend to close my eyes while standing and turning.
I tend to close my eyes during sitting meditation,however if I am aware of tiredness creeping in then I do as my Sayadaw recommends.I open 1 eye and note seeing,seeing or light,light.I prefer seeing,seeing as usually I use light,light when I feel my body becoming light.Of course in the end I guess it comes down to what best suits you.
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Aloka » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:05 am

I began meditating with eyes closed, but then often found I'd fall asleep eventually.

Now I always have my eyes open, relaxed, and looking slightly ahead in the direction of the nose, which for me, is so much better for my practice. After all, my aim is to integrate the results of meditation into my everyday life - and I don't engage in that with my eyes closed! :)

.
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Collective » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:39 am

Thank you all very much, I appreciate the great advice. For the record, I'm eyes closed, or at least have been for the last 6 months or so

===============================================

Not wanting to start another thread (and at the risk of exasperating you all...)

After all these months, and reading (I admit I havem't really read that much) I am still unsure of the differences between Vipassana and Samadhi. I know Vipassana is insight meditation, and I believe it is about (correct me if I am wrong) lifting the veil and seeing things truly as they are without our bias muddying the picture.

But I am really not sure about Samadhi. Best I can think of it it's to do with fully relaxing the mind and body and entering blissful stages which help us relax through the day.

Please would someone give me a concise summary of what Samhadi is, and more importantly (for me at least), why would I choose to practice one over the other?

I promise to copy and paste it so I don't have to ask again :)

Thank you all, I do appreciater your patience and efforts
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:55 am

Hi Collective

I recommend that you get yourself a copy of Ven Analayo's excellent "Satipatthana: the direct path to realization". Not just because it will answer this question you have, but also because it is an excellent commentary and manual for the Satipatthana Sutta.
Very basically, samatha exercises are those that through a singularity of focus to the exclusion of all others develop concentration, and calm, a unity of mind. Vipassana is 'special insight' that is derived from observing the salient characteristics of phenomena and will lead to the eradication of defilements. For most people, the easiest of the three marks of phenomena to observe is anicca (impermanance). Both samatha (samadhi) and vipassana are required for awakening. Both samatha and vipassana support the development of the othe.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:04 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
* The removal of visual distractions. That's one cord of sensual pleasure you've cut off for the duration of your meditation.


Good point, though I don't find resting my gaze on a spot on the floor ( whatever ) to be distracting. And in any case we can't cut ourselves off completely from sensory input while meditating - unless we use one of those sensory deprivation tanks... ;)

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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Collective » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:36 am

Ben wrote:Hi Collective

I recommend that you get yourself a copy of Ven Analayo's excellent "Satipatthana: the direct path to realization". Not just because it will answer this question you have, but also because it is an excellent commentary and manual for the Satipatthana Sutta.
Very basically, samatha exercises are those that through a singularity of focus to the exclusion of all others develop concentration, and calm, a unity of mind. Vipassana is 'special insight' that is derived from observing the salient characteristics of phenomena and will lead to the eradication of defilements. For most people, the easiest of the three marks of phenomena to observe is anicca (impermanance). Both samatha (samadhi) and vipassana are required for awakening. Both samatha and vipassana support the development of the othe.
kind regards

Ben

Thank you Ben

So I(we) should practice both?
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:47 am

Hi Collective.
Yes, its a good idea to do both. I do both.
But many practitioners do only one or the other.
Whichever teacher or method you have confidence in, then follow those instuctions.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Collective » Mon Oct 04, 2010 1:45 pm

Ben wrote:Hi Collective.
Yes, its a good idea to do both. I do both.
But many practitioners do only one or the other.
Whichever teacher or method you have confidence in, then follow those instuctions.
kind regards

Ben

Thank you Ben

Would you recommend I practice Vipassana one morning and Samatah the next morning?

I'm decided to join the harmavajra Kadampa Buddhist Centre near me: Link HKB

I've been told to inform them that I'm not interested in the religious or (and especially) the political side of things - that I only want to get deeper into Vipassana.

I'm hoping it will be beneficial long term

Thanks again
Last edited by Collective on Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:24 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby beeblebrox » Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:05 pm

I think your skills in samatha probably will make a base for vipassana. I would think that you need a stable, effortless concentration for the latter. I wouldn't know... I haven't had any training for vipassana.
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Re: The Eyes (Again)

Postby Collective » Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:24 am

I am a little unsure about how you practice Viapassana and how you practice Samatha. This is how I do it

Vipassana = I focus on the breath and pay attention to everything/anything that arises. I acknowledge the 'sensation' from a neutral stand point, trying not to judge it through my personal biases. I try not to attach what I believe to be right/wrong, or good/bad to the sensation.

Samatha = I focus on the breath totally and utterly. Any sensations that arise I pay no attention to. I medidtate solely on the breath and let anything and everything else that may arise, just pass by with no acknowledgement at all.

Is that correct?
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