“The eyes are the mirror of the soul and reflect everything that seems to be hidden, and just like a mirror they also reflect the person looking into them” – Paulo Coelho
If you have ever eye-gazed before, you know how it feels to really, truly see and to really, truly be seen. It is like standing naked in front of a mirror. Sometimes we like what we see, sometimes we can’t stand looking at it.
Eye-gazing is the act of looking into your own eyes or someone else’s eyes for an extended amount of time. It’s a powerful, intimate practice that can help you become closer to yourself and others.
Eyes are the most expressive facial features. They can communicate a range of social cues and emotions, which can influence your social interactions. It’s no wonder eye contact is so touching. It can trigger a personal connection, even if it lasts for only a few seconds.
When eye-gazing it is not just our current mood, feelings and thoughts that become visible, memories from the past can also present themselves in the most unexpected moments.
Eye-gazing can be confronting because it is not only fun and joy that bubbles to the surface but sometimes pain, fear and struggle. Locking eyes with someone in these moments is an incredibly powerful experience, where instead of running away from yourself, everything you need to face is right there, staring back at you and at the same time you are being fully accepted and gently nurtured.
History of Eye-Gazing
Although eye gazing is a common tantric technique, its exact origins are unclear, it can be traced back thousands of years. Ancient tantric tradition advocates the spiritual benefits of eye gazing as a practice used to deepen intimacy.
The practice bubbled to the surface of popularity in the 90s when author Michael Ellsberg began hosting Eye-Gazing Parties, a trend that fast became a popular alternative to speed dating in New York. “It’s a lot easier to have a mesmerising conversation with someone after you’ve spent two minutes looking into his or her eyes”. Michael Ellsberg.
Eye-gazing can sharpen your emotional intelligence
Prolonged eye contact can benefit your social relationships on a psychological level. Your eyes are a powerful representation of your emotions. In fact, a 2017 study suggests that humans determine how others are feeling by analysing their eyes and researchers have found that direct eye-gazing increases activity in the amygdala, the is the part of your brain involved in processing facial cues and people’s emotions.
Ignites intimacy and attraction
There’s evidence that long eye contact can increase intimacy. In a pair of studies from 1989, strangers who looked into each other’s eyes for 2 minutes experienced mutual feelings of love. A 2003 study found that the longer someone started at a face, the more they became attracted to it. Additionally, in a 2009 study of 32 males, participants perceived female faces with a direct gaze as more attractive than those with an averted gaze.
Many people consider eye contact to be a sign of trustworthiness and conversely, not looking someone in the eye is often associated with lying and deception. Want to build trust with another person? Try eye gazing! According to a 2016 study, people are more likely to believe and trust a person who continuously makes eye contact.
Eye-Gazing cultivates connection
Considering that eye gazing creates emotional bonding, it may also nurture a deeper connection between souls. A 2017 study of 35 university students determined that direct eye-gazing is associated with what’s known as self-other merging. This means it reduces the boundaries between “self” and “other,” creating a feeling of “oneness” and deep connection.
How to begin
There are many ways to do eye gazing but here’s my favourite. You may find yourself or your partner laughing, this is completely normal and encouraged. Take some deep breathes when you’re ready to settle yourself. The objective of this exercise is to connect each other’s energies without speaking.
- Sit in a comfortable position and face your partner. You can hold hands or touch each other if you’d like.
- Set a timer for your desired amount of time, I recommend a minimum of 5 minutes. Look into your partner’s eyes and choose one single eye to focus on.
- Breathe deeply and allow yourself to blink. Keep your gaze soft and try not to look away.
- Break your gaze when the timer goes off.
What to expect when eye-gazing
A broad spectrum of emotional reactions can be possible, from elation to utter relaxation, after the initial awkwardness washes away. At first you might feel a bit nervous or unsure, but quickly you’ll become aware that something profoundly moving is happening. It’s important to be open and not have any expectations.
In saying that, like meditation or yoga, every time you practice it’s slightly different. Different people mirror different aspects of you, and there are a host of factors that can influence what response a session might trigger. However, most usually leave feeling extremely grateful and grounded.
If you’d like to deepen your bond with another person, try eye-gazing. The practice can increase trust and intimacy, and help you understand each other on a much deeper, emotional and spiritual level.
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