I’ve spent several thousand hours doing both of these approaches, and I can definitively say that one isn’t better than the other. Some of my most profound meditative experiences came with eyes open, and others with eyes closed.
Like most things, they each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s some brief reflections:
The primary advantage of eyes closed
By removing visual stimuli, a whole layer of ‘potential’ distraction is removed. This makes it easier for many folks to stay aware. This extra ease applies to all styles of meditation, but especially for concentration-centered practices.
The primary advantage of eyes open
It teaches us we don’t have to be sitting still with eyes closed to have a meditative mind. We slowly learn that visual stimuli aren’t actually a distraction. They are just another thing to be aware of, and can actually be an aid to awareness! The major takeaway of this style is that it makes it easier to be aware in daily life (because, of course, we have our eyes open all day long!). Continue reading
The following essay on veganism is a personal sharing, and is more about expressing my own sincerity journey than it is about evangelizing a particular ideology.
I don’t judge people who eat meat or animal products. I also don’t have a problem sharing a kitchen or a meal with those who have different dietary habits. My basic life philosophy is that the best way to impart change is to dare to be radically myself, discover my own integrity, and to give others the space to do the same.
May this reflection be helpful in some way, fellow journeyer!
For a variety of reasons, I became a vegetarian in 2009. Although, as the years passed, only one of those reasons really stuck: I couldn’t justify the killing of another living being when there were plenty of other ways to get easily & fully nourished.
However, I never thought too much about becoming vegan. Using animal byproducts wasn’t outright killing living beings, I thought, so what’s the big deal? Continue reading
There are two basic ways to practice eating meditation.
The first is about being mindful of your sensory experience.
Before the food even goes into your mouth, you take a moment to really look at it. You put your nose to it, and smell its various fragrances. Maybe you even feel it in your hands. Continue reading
There are a million different ways to practice walking meditation. But all of them are rooted in the basics of mindfulness: being aware with a curious & equanimous attitude.
What follows is a way of practicing walking meditation that I’ve found particularly helpful, both for “beginning” and “advanced” meditators.
I like to think of this practice in terms of layers. Each one is a perfectly great practice on its own, though they can also all work together (sort of like how different instruments can create beautiful sounds by themselves, but can also mesh with other instruments to create a “song”). Continue reading
Developing gratitude can be very powerful for brightening spells of depression, and for making the good times even sweeter. In reality, it’s one of the key inner qualities a person can develop if they are interested in happiness.
In today’s post, I’ll share a way I think about different types of gratitude, and practices I do to cultivate each one. Here’s the three types:
1. Past Happenings
As the name suggests, these refer to tangible experiences that have already happened. They could be experiences from long-ago, like the vacation spot we went to as a child, or things more recent, like the vacation we took last month.
Although, one important principle to know is that proximity is power.
In other words, the most powerful past-happening-gratitudes are usually the ones that have occurred more recently. In turn, here’s a fairly common daily practice that I’ve found extremely beneficial: Continue reading
Not being able to fall asleep is a really common experience. It can happen at the beginning of the night, during the middle of the night, or even at nap time. Here’s my no-nonsense guide on how to expedite the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep.
The first important thing to understand is that if the mind is tired, it will naturally fall asleep once it’s sufficiently relaxed.
So how to get the mind sufficiently relaxed? Continue reading
We’ve just had a significant insight, and now life feels “different.”
Whether it’s a psychological or meditative insight isn’t terribly important, because whatever it was, it has left a noticeable residue.
Maybe we’re glowing and beaming. Maybe it has more of a sobering and cool feel. Although, whatever the residue, the question on the mind is often,
Here’s a list of six things I wish I would’ve known a decade ago. They help navigate the transition space from the old-us to the new-us.
The Buddhist tradition uses a three-step model for the development of insight/wisdom. While it could be applied to nearly anything, we’re mostly interested in how it applies to the three meditative truths: inconstancy, not-self and dukkha.
Although, to bring it down to earth, imagine we really dislike cold weather. Whenever it drops below zero, we automatically become tense, agitated and grumpy.
In other words, our experience is of “dukkha”—the pain of wanting things to be other than they are.
However, after walking through the three steps detailed below, we learn to be in frigidly cold weather without getting tense or resistant. And, in turn, we actually feel a deep capacity to stay relaxed and engaged, not just during cold weather, but during just about all unpleasant life situations. Continue reading
In today’s post, we’re going to more directly explore the realm of meditative truth.
Of course, just as you don’t need to read about gravity to experience it, you don’t need to read about these to experience them, or to have insight into them. However, knowing where to steer your practice can sure save a lot of time.
As a basic formula, meditative insight largely comes through applying our meditation fundamentals: being mindful with a curious and equanimous attitude, moment-after-moment-after-moment.
Without further ado, here they are:
With any insight, the basic thing we realize is the truth. However, we can have insights into two different types of truth: psychological truth and meditative truth.
Psychological truths are unique-to-us, story-based, and subject to change—like realizing our life’s purpose is to be a community leader, what our true values are or why we always seem to be late everywhere. This is also referred to as relative or personal truth, and is often pursued in a therapy room.
Meditative truths are universal-to-everyone, nature-based, and will never change—like realizing that anger is merely a combination of fluctuating sensation, cognition and feeling, or that there’s a subconscious belief that gives rise to it. Or, deeply seeing that “I am not my thoughts,” and how “I have profound choice on whether to indulge a thought or to let it pass.” This is also referred to as ultimate or absolute truth, and is often pursued in meditative practice.
To this point in the series I’ve given two examples of insight. One was about a community elder who realized that people were more important than possessions. The other was about two people having insight into healthy eating.
Both of those were psychological truths. While both situations present insights that many people could relate to, they don’t deal with the fundamental building blocks of consciousness. Continue reading