Could someone please clarify for me what to do with the eyes? I have heard that we should keep our eyelids half open, but could someone describe it in detail (or refer me to someone else who does)? Thank you.
Welcome to Buddhism SE, amby
Here is the thing about Buddhist meditation....
For some meditational methiods there are some guidelines and for some it is how you like it.
- As an example
Breathing meditation - Has a set of rules/guidelines that you must follow (Like sitting down being essential for that particular meditation)
Vipassana meditation - Has no structure and you can use it in any form or method after you learn the core of it.
So here is the solution...
As you are saying you are now practicing a meditational method which needs your eyes closed. Lord Buddha in his advises to monks has never specified a form of eyes closing or opening so what you are asking is not complicated, choose between closed eyes and half open eyes methods. Once you pick what you like do that. There is no right or wrong in that.
Please note that this choice is all about different traditions and holds no significance over the outcome of your efforts.For your advancement you must choose what suits you. Personally i prefer closed eyes because it helps me to concentrate better as i'm completely cut off from the world.
You could try Vipassana Meditation. This Meditation has no complications like what you are facing now. Here are some links, Listen and practice...
You can also try Mindfulness meditation
Here's Loving Kindness meditation with homage
I mentioned these because these kind of issues should not become a barrier to a fellow practitioner.Hope this helps.
If you mention the kind/version of meditation you practice i would like to help you further.
This is a massage to any other member of our community, Please do not remove the links. I have mentioned them to help the new user who asked this question.
The guidance I got from one teacher, of Tibetan Nyingma school, is to let the eyes relax. In detail, this includes:
- keep them open but not stare-open - don't strain to keep them half-closed either,
- relax the muscles around the eyes, so called soft-eyes,
- do not focus the eyes on anything in particular, allow them go a little out of focus but don't force it,
- if your eyes wander from object to object a bit, that's totally fine - as long as the objects are not too engaging. You don't have to literally sit in front of the wall but you want your scene to be rather generic.
Eyes half open - when you keeps your eyes open some light comes in therefore you do not become sleepy.
Eyes close - when you keep your eyes closed there is less distraction.
Following is an interesting quotation from Buddhadasa Bhikkhu on this subject:
Now, the eyes. Should we leave them open or should we close them? Many people believe that they must close their eyes that they cannot meditate with open eyes. If you are serious about what you are doing and have a sufficiently strong mind it is not difficult to practice with the eyes left open. Begin with the eyes open. Open them with the determination to gaze toward the tip of the nose. This is not at all impossible. It just takes a little effort to do so. Gaze at the tip of the nose so that the eyes will not get involved in other things. When we close our eyes we tend to be sleepy, so be careful about closing the eyes. Also, when the eyes are closed they become warm and dry. Mediating with the eyes open will help us to stay awake and will keep the eyes cool and comfortable. Further, this will help the mind to be concentrated; it will aid the development of samadhi. As samadhi (concentration) develops about half way, the eyes will close naturally by themselves. The eyelids will relax and drop shut on their own. There is nothing to worry about. The complete technique is to begin with the eyes open. Gaze at the nose tip until samadhi develops, then the eyes will close on their own. That takes care of the eyes. (46)
Practicing with the eyes open and gazing at the tip of the nose is automatically a noticeable level of concentration. If we establish all of the mind upon gazing at the tip of the nose, we will not see anything else. If we can do this, it will be a certain type of samadhi. We will profit from having this much concentration right from the start. Merely look at the nose without seeing anything else. If all of the mind, all of its interest, is set on looking at the nose, then nothing else will be seen. This samadhi is not insignificant. Therefore you ought to try to start with open eyes. (47)
Please observe that this is something anyone can do. We are intent upon gazing at the nose, at feeling the nose, and at the same time we feel the body breathing. Both can be done. It may seem that both are being done at exactly the same moment, but they are not. There is not anything unnatural or supernatural about it. Because of the mind’s great speed it is possible for the eyes to be gazing at the tip of the nose while being aware of breathing in and breathing out. You can see this for yourself. (48)