I was listening to a guided meditation that brought two lessons and insights to me. The purpose of the meditation was to explore the experience of meditating with eyes wide open. I have most often practiced meditation with my eyes closed, breathing, while rivers of thoughts and images flow across my mind, pulling me away from noticing that I am breathing.
But the instruction for this particular meditation was to keep eyes open, and find something in front of me that I could choose to focus on. A narrow or wide focus would be my choice.
At one point, the guiding voice of the teacher suggested to now look and see as if that which I had chosen to focus on, was coming to me. I took this to mean that what I was seeing was making itself known to my awareness. It was not separate from me. We were in relationship, however brief and subtle. And in this, I had the choice to be more or less aware of the relationship.
I once listened to a mentor of mine speak to a group about experiences he had while working in a psychiatric hospital where people who had been identified as psychotic, or schizophrenic had been placed and confined. It is hard to separate how the relationship between the setting, the people who were residents, the people who were staff, and all of the medications prescribed, impacted how everyone behaved, which often appeared to be disconnected and delusional. But he noticed that even within the chaotic mix, there would be moments when people would show up fully present, and lucid. It could be easy to miss seeing those moments, and therefore miss an awareness of the relationship, and how this awareness would change how we do, or be in relationship.
The second guiding instruction in the meditation, was to bring an awareness of "care" to that which we were focusing on. I had been focusing on a painting on our mantle that Patti and I had bought while we were in Santiago de Bahia, Brazil. It was an object, but this instruction to bring caring to what I was seeing created a subtle internal repositioning. It was a softening, an opening to see more, to experience more, a willingness to receive what could be offered, and an opportunity to discover what I might offer.
All of this awareness would come in a very short amount of time, seconds or minutes. The implication of the experience is that we have a lot of control over what we choose to see, how we see it, how we orient ourselves to that seeing, and our openness to the awareness that we are in relationship.
The meditation leaves me with the question, how does this change what and how I see, do, and be going forward?
Here in the USA in 2021, in the midst of a pandemic, and a divided nation of citizens with much ranting and raving, on first glance, it looks and feels a little like the chaos of the psychiatric ward. The challenge of every day is finding moments to choose where I look, what I see, and how I orient my gaze, that helps me step into the future.