Taking Meditation Inside Then Out

For most people, a meditation practice involves focusing within with the intention of creating or strengthening that ever important relationship with self. And while a lot can be said for learning to let go of your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, at least according to some meditation scholars, equally important is taking that practice and using it to focus in the opposite direction.

Richard Rosen explores the idea in this Yoga Journal post. According to Rosen, if a person excludes the outside world from their meditation practice, in effect they are cutting the Self in half. Although focusing within is an important beginning step, once a person has the hang of it, the next step is to embrace the outer world. An open eye meditation is perfect for this.

The old texts don’t describe any preliminaries to stage 2, but I think it’s best to take a few baby steps before attempting full Shambhavi Mudra. Begin in a darkened room facing a blank wall. With your awareness fixed firmly in Shiva’s Station, the source of your fluid consciousness, open your eyes about halfway, steady them, try not to blink (half-closed eyes will help to still your blink reflex), and, to paraphrase the traditional instruction, “Look outside, but don’t see.” Of course, in a dark room staring at a blank wall, there’s not much to see anyway. What you’re doing here is twofold: You’re getting accustomed to meditating with open eyes, and you’re providing a situation in which your attention won’t be tempted to rush out into the world.

Once you’re comfortable with this practice, illuminate the room and continue to stare at the blank wall. Next, turn away from the wall and focus on a familiar but relatively featureless object, like a yoga block, positioned on the floor in front of you. Finally, as you become more comfortable with the practice, look “out” into your practice space.

Read more from Rosen on using meditation to focus within and out here.

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