Meditating eyes open

Rednaxela, modified 7 Years ago at 3/10/15 12:05 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 3/10/15 11:58 AM

Meditating eyes open

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
Hi I'm unable to search messages today so i thought i'd post this:

I just started meditating with a local Korean Zen teacher who recommended the eyes open approach.  I've had eyes closed for 4+ years as generally found it distracting otherwise.  Anyway, since I've decided to embrace Zen and find my buddha nature, i'm trying the open eyed approach.

And i like it.  But am i doing it right?  I've dedided to go eyes unfocused and eyes "half open" (whatever that means), looking downward  The result is an immediate somewhat uncomfortable "carboardy" feeling in my head.  I will often get a picture of the room that appears within inches of my face.  My peripheral vision is activated and, after a while, I've had the experience of seeing everybody in the circle in a flattened out picture.  That and also some good feeling of concentration in my face area. 

I'm concerned about the unconfortable carboardy feeling.  Because it is almost always there, and because on short meditations like on the commuter train, it's all I experience.  Am i going crosseyed or using my eyes in the wrong way?  I've noted that in some pictures of Phillip Kapleau his eyes look a bit off.  What else could the feeling in my head be? 

I appreciate any thoughts.

Alexander Rice, modified 7 Years ago at 3/10/15 3:45 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 3/10/15 3:45 PM

RE: Meditating eyes open

Posts: 36 Join Date: 2/20/15 Recent Posts
My thought is that I'd need to understand what 'cardboardy' means to you.

The things I understand are:
-- that you don't like feeling it very much,
-- that you only feel it while meditating,
-- that it comes on immediately you start trying to meditate
-- that you mainly notice concentration practice by the feelings in your face

If I had a bodily sensation that was induced by meditation that I didn't like I might say that I was noticing the 'unsatisfactoriness' characteristic of the sensation and I might be inclined to look more closely at it and see what happened.
Rednaxela, modified 7 Years ago at 3/10/15 4:39 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 3/10/15 4:33 PM

RE: Meditating eyes open

Posts: 158 Join Date: 12/23/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the response Alexander,

i saw or heard the term "cardboard" as a description of sensation somewhere and thought it worked well, so i borrowed it.  i like it because, to me, it describes a concrete sensation that is in no way subtle. 

In answer to your points:
- I like how strong the sensation is.  But the fact that it is in my head, and doesnt feel too different than crossing my eyes makes me wonder if i'm hurting myself unintentionaly. 
- Right now, if i pay attention to my forehead i feel a subtle version of it.  but when i unfocus my eyes it is much stronger. 
- Yes, i feel it often after i begin to meditate with eyes open. 
- And yes again, the sensations around my nose and eyes are rather strong.  i loosely described this to the Zen teacher who used to be a heart surgeon, and he said it was related to the prefrontal cortex.

And yes, i do like to look at it and find it easy to anchor on

Best, Alex
Pål, modified 7 Years ago at 3/13/15 4:26 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 3/13/15 4:26 AM

RE: Meditating eyes open

Posts: 778 Join Date: 9/30/14 Recent Posts
I think that relaxing the face is key, then let the eyes do as they please. If they want to be open I let them and vice versa. If the "carboard" feeling you're talkning about is somekind of tension I think it probably should be relaxed (but then I'm a beginner so don't take my advice too seriously). Bhante Vimalaramsi says that attachment and distraction causes tensions around the brain that have to be physichally relaxed before goind back to the object of meditation. Surpressing the distractions won't make the tensions go away.