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Dharma Diagnostic Clinic, aka "What was that?"

Eye tension and movement during scans

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Eye tension and movement during scans
Answer
1/11/10 12:03 PM
Hi,

Since I began practicing with the scan almost two and a half years ago (in the Goenka tradition), my eyes have been moving, when closed, according to the location of the attention on my body. They shift and wriggle, and even if they don't the muscles around them tense and un-tense constantly according to the shifts and focus of the scan. Assistant teachers had told me this is a barrier for progress and that I have to come out of this habit. Recently one of them has suggested meditating with eyes open. I've tried this for a couple of days so far. It allowed me to meditate without the eyes moving, but still leaves the gaze focusing and un-focusing, and the muscles tensing. Meditation with closed eyes is better now, but still, it seems, far from what seem to be desired.

I suspect that this problem is related to the visualizing tendency of my mind. I used to have to visualize the part of my body in order to shift my attention/feel sensations on it. I came out of this habit, but still when I scan there is a fleeting image of the area and the move from one area to another is often made on the basis of some sort of weak conception of the general outline of that area.

Any ideas of how to approach this?

With gratitude,
Oded

RE: Eye tension and movement during scans
Answer
1/11/10 1:06 PM as a reply to Oded O.
My mum has that problem, and it is one of the things that stops her going back to do a goenka course, that and the pain. Hehe!
I think if you just mentally noted the eye movement and/or noticed the sensation of the eyes, moving , straining ...take it as part of the meditation. Include it as part of the experience, because really it is. For my mum at least it is a great source of frustration, but that means she isn't taking it as just another thing to be aware of, the straining and the frustration are now a hinderance instead of being a part of what to observe. That is what I would do. You never know, the eyes could relax soon after being noted. Experiment with it. Once a lot of things are noted , whether mentally noted like , straining, straining, moving, looking etc or just a mind tap each time, they dissapear rather quickly in my case.

RE: Eye tension and movement during scans
Answer
1/17/10 9:03 PM as a reply to Nikolai Stephen Halay.
Yes, I also went on Goenka retreat recently (last November) and I help myself to concentrate on a particular body area by focusing my eyes all the time!!! I didn't know that it was a problem! I never told about it to assistant teachers. And when I remove my visual focus it feels like my concentration weakens somewhat, so I actually intentionally maintained the focus. It never really bothered me, though a couple of times I had thought that it might be bad for the eyes to be focused on one spot for prolonged periods of time (of course I have my eyes closed, and it's more mental than visual, but eyes muscles are working anyway). When I have full body awareness, I usually still have my innner visual focus on the area of the nostrils. So, do I really have to break this habit? and what should I do with my eyes instead? wow, I didn't know I had a bad habit to break emoticon

RE: Eye tension and movement during scans
Answer
1/18/10 12:19 AM as a reply to Yuliya Yakhontova.
I actually don't think the eye thing is a problem.

It is normal as one develops concentration, but is stage specific. At some stages one will tend to move the eyes to focus, at others not so much, and at some not at all.

These are just more sensations: notice their true nature, The Three Characteristics, as really the impression of eyes is just made up of more sensations.

I have a friend who actually takes the motion of his eyelids at his primary object sometimes when he wants to get Fruitions, just lets them flutter, syncs to that, and gets his hit. Thus, the key is noticing how things are, not so much the specifics of how things are, at least when doing insight practice.

RE: Eye tension and movement during scans
Answer
1/19/10 1:14 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I agree with Daniel in regards to eye-movement not being a problem.

As always, it's not the sensations that are the problem, but rather our relationship to them.

Right now it seems as thought you're experiencing a great deal of aversion toward the eye-movement. The aversion is the problem, not the eye-movement.

It might be a good idea to check in with yourself from time to time and ask, "Will sustaining aversion toward these sensations lead to liberation?" If the answer is no (which it will be, if you're honest with yourself), than relax into the sensations as they arise and pass and simply observe manifest reality while it does what it does.

Daniel is right - this sort of thing is usually stage specific. It should pass with time.