According to a recent poll of 137 meditators only 10% of them regularly meditate with their eyes open.
According to this pool, meditating with eyes open appears to be an uncommon practice but some people do find it helpful.
The real question that needs to be asked is, should you meditate with your eyes open and why?
There’s no right or wrong way to meditate when it comes to having your eyes open or closed. There may be different times to have your eyes open and different times for them to remain closed during a meditation. So ultimately it depends on your personal preference.
Let’s dive into what those 10% of meditators enjoy or find helpful about meditating with their eyes open.
When should you meditate with your eyes open?
You can meditate with your eyes open anytime you’d like. In fact in Zen Buddhism it’s customary to meditate with your eyes open. Your sight is one of your 5 senses after all, and shouldn’t be neglected in mindful practice.
Just like you might focus on feelings in the body or noises that arise in mindful practice, it can also be incredibly beneficial to focus in on your visual environment. Think of all the beauty there is to be present with in meditation practice.
Many claim that meditation with eyes open makes their practice easier and more enjoyable. If you feel like you’re forcing yourself to meditate or are getting burnt out on the practice, try open eye meditation to refresh your practice.
Here are some scenarios where you’d want to meditate with your eyes open:
- You’re practicing mindful driving
- You’re meditating and don’t want to get sleepy
- You’re meditating in a beautiful environment
- Any time you’re practicing mindfulness while doing another task
> see my article “Can (And Should) You Meditate While Driving”
Meditating with your eyes open while doing anything important like driving or any other potentially dangerous habit is obviously a must.
Meditating when it’s a beautiful day or if you’re in a particularly nice visual setting can bring you further into the present and enhance your meditation practice. Open eye meditation should definitely be explored when in these situations.
When should you meditate with your eyes closed?
Although it’s perfectly okay to meditate with your eyes open, you may decide that closed eye meditation is best for certain times. Here are a few of the scenarios where closed eye meditation is ideal:
- You’re doing a visualization meditation
- You’re meditating to fall asleep
- You want to dive deep inside yourself
- You’re focusing your meditation on bodily sensations
Deeply inward focused meditations are best done with eyes closed as it allows you to focus all of your attention on your thoughts, feelings, and internal environment.
Meditation is also a great practice to use to help you prepare for bed or to fall asleep. If your goal of a nighttime meditation is to fall asleep, then closing your eyes will definitely help with that.
If you’re doing any type of visualization meditation, having your eyes open will make visualizing difficult. It’s best to keep your eyes shut when trying any type of visualization technique for the best experience possible.
Benefits of open eye meditation
What’s the purpose of meditation other than to deepen our present experience, enhance our awareness, and feel better.
Luckily, open eye meditation can help with all of those things and more! Here are a few of the benefits to meditating with your eyes open:
- You become more aware and connected to your physical environment
- You’ll stay awake, alert, and oriented
- It can deepen your present experience
- You will appreciate more beauty in your environment
- It can improve your focus and concentration in the moment
I just can’t describe how amazing it is to open eye meditate in a beautiful place. The connection and joy that it can bring is truly awesome and should at least be explored or tried a couple of times.
How to meditate with your eyes open
To meditate with your eyes open you’ll want to follow these steps below
1. Choose a comfortable setting
Setting can really make all the difference when it comes to an amazing open eye meditation. First you’ll want to pick a place where you find a lot of beauty and that is relatively calm and not too busy.
Secondly you’ll want to make sure you find a comfortable seat so you’re not too fidgety once you start. I recommend bringing a yoga mat, meditation cushion, or blanket to sit on.
> see my article “Everything You Need For The Ultimate Meditation Setup”
2. Choose a meditation technique
There are all kinds of meditation techniques to choose from for your open eye meditation session. here are a few that work best for meditating with your eyes open.
- Mindfulness meditation
- Transcendental meditation
- Yoga meditation
- Guided meditation
It’s best not to try any type of meditation that requires visualization. Having your eyes open while trying to procure a vivid visualization will be distracting and more difficult.
> see my article “7 Best Types of Meditation: Which is Best For You?”
3. Begin your meditation and take it in
At this step you’ll start your meditation as you usually would. You can try focusing in on things in your environment and taking the detail in vivid detail or widening your gaze to allow for any sights to softly enter your visual awareness.
Both a focused and unfocused gaze are good to try in your open eye meditation. Both have their benefits.
4. Come back to the visual field
You may find yourself getting lost in thought, in which case just gently remind yourself to come back to your visual field.
Notice what arises and disappears in your visual field. Maybe there’s a particular visual focus you’d like to set. This visual set point could be a great way to center yourself back into the present moment when you get lost in thought.
Continue to recenter yourself throughout the meditation, reminding yourself of the physical space around you that you can see.
Am I allowed to blink?
Of course you are! You’re not meant to be a dictator to yourself in meditation practice. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to relax and accept what comes up in mindful practice.
If you need to blink, go ahead and blink. If you need to move because you’re uncomfortable, you can move. If you have an itch, by all means it’s okay to itch! Unless you’re specifically doing meditation on expert mode, but there’s really no need to do that.
Try it for yourself
Open eye meditation might not be for everyone, but I personally find it to deeply enhance my meditations. I almost always include my sense of sight in my meditation practice. It’s just a great way to deepen myself into the present moment.
It’s true that some forms of meditation are best with your eyes closed, but most of the time having your eyes open will only help you have a better meditation.
The important thing is you give it a shot yourself, and determine what’s right for your meditation practice. I’d highly recommend it.