What do you see when you close your eyes? Or is the point not to see but to allow yourself to open up to other, perhaps less dominant, senses? Consider the common situations in which you focus with eyes closed – when preparing for sleep, when desirous of intensifying a sensation being experienced, or perhaps to avoid imprinting an image that is disturbing or frightening. Most examples probably fit into these categories, though there may be times when you close your eyes in order to embrace a moment of stillness and quiet. These last are the moments that invite a closer look.
When you close eyes initially, there can be a sense of noticing the quality of the darkness. It can show up differently – sometimes close and heavy, at other times cool and spacious, and, of course, with a range of sensations in between. Sometimes it seems as if the dark is right in front of your face, and, at other times, it can feel as though it envelops your entire body. This is the period of settling in, and it carries you past the first few moments. So, if your intention is for more than a 20 second break, what is it that happens next?
Ah… This is the place that has the potential for the real beginning of a new and potentially life changing experience. Suppose you are closing your eyes to begin meditation or checking in with your inner self during your yoga practice or while being supported through a yoga therapy session. In any of these scenarios, sliding into the darkness allows you to shift focus to what’s happening from the inside out. It’s a different perspective. It’s one that frees you in a way from the connection to the senses; it changes the perspective from which you are taking in the world around you. That shift allows a mindful space to simply be with yourself.
There is something about being in the dark that provides a new, in the moment, experience. It’s different every time, and you can never be sure who or what you will encounter. Of course, after a moment or two, your mind will jump in to fill what it perceives as a void. Thoughts of future and past, judgments, expectations and concerns are just some of the characters that will take up space in the dark. What might it look like to greet them, welcome them in, invite them to sit with you a while? Consider it like “working the room” in a social setting where you acknowledge each guest, listen a bit and move on, never getting too involved with each individual but keeping close awareness of the bigger picture. Perhaps not a comfortable analogy but a serviceable one. The point is not to become too attached to any one thought or emotion but not to fight against them or try to shut them out as you move from one to the next.
How would it be to enter the dark with the kind of anticipation of seeing a great movie you’ve heard about – to bring that kind of energy in but without the sense of attachment to what the movie turns out to be? Might that draw you to want to sit in meditation or close eyes during yoga practice or a yoga therapy session and see what happens? Think of the richness that is you and all that is waiting to be discovered. Most of all, allow yourself to entertain the possibility of getting to know the person you are from the inside out.