Author Topic: Eyes that won't relax  (Read 10747 times)

ThomasG

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Eyes that won't relax
« on: December 14, 2007, 12:45:15 PM »
I've recently finished my first Vipassana course, and think it was excellent, but felt I was held back by my eyes: they won't stop moving as I move my awareness about my body, and with all that moving they get very stressed and painful. I spoke to the teacher, said that it was a habit that I needed to drop, but he couldn't tell me how - I'd have to find my own way. From his reaction, it sounded as if it is not an uncommon problem. The trouble is, I still haven't found a way to drop the habit, and to stop my eyes exploding with the strain, I can't explore my body in as fine detail as I would otherwise been able to.

Has anyone else had this problem, and can you offer advise or suggestions on how to break the habit of my eyes moving as my awareness moves?

Thanks.

mettajoey

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2007, 02:16:10 PM »
Hi Thomas,
Welcome to the forum!
I also moved my eyes a lot at first, and very much so during the ten-day.  I focussed so hard during my course that midway through I was getting tension headaches in my temples.  First on the right which I was able to rub out and then the left.  I also found that I was doing too many visualizations and not just focusing on what I actually felt.  Once I got better at at noting sensations and dropped visualizing so much the eye movement went away also.  My advice would be to approach your practice with a calm mind and equanimity and work on letting the sensations come up on their own instead of trying too hard and rooting them out.  You are actually creating desire for sensation, thusly causing tension.  This practice takes time...
Good luck and with Metta, 
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

Stefan

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2007, 01:33:57 PM »
mhm, I had the same problem ... my body-scan was accompanied by the visualisation of the bodypart I was scanning, and my eyes were following the route along my body, and I really felt stupid. but my teacher said it is good that I noticed it, very essential step! he said it also happened to him, and it would go away if I stopped building up an aversion against that habit. a very common habit, that, because we are very visual creatures.
of course I tried to get rid of that habit actively ...... wouldn't work!
so I relaxed, and every time I realised it happening I just observed the eyemovement equanimously without trying to stop it.
This habit is nearly gone now, and it doesn't disturb me any more.

Metta, Stefan
« Last Edit: December 15, 2007, 01:35:11 PM by stefan »
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ThomasG

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2007, 02:43:38 PM »
Thanks for the tips - it's good to hear that others have the same problem.  I'm more relaxed about it now having accepted that I can't cure it overnight, and can remain equanimous on the whole.  I now start with breathing awareness, but in the region of my chest that first moves when I breath.  This is to try and get my awareness away from my face.  From there I am doing occassional scans of my body core, which doesn't seem to stress my eyes as much as going on on the limbs. If they get stressed, I just go back to annapanna (sp?) before I build up an aversion.  I expect to gradual build up to doing full body scans, with my eyes staying calm and relaxed. 

In fact, doing the breathing awareness, but remaining equanimous to my eyes (and all the other sensations that crop up in my body) has the same quality as doing the vipassana body scan, only less so, so I assume it is having the same effect.

Cheers
Thomas

deanmw

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2008, 04:35:48 AM »
This may seem an obvious suggestion, but have you tried directing your attention to different parts of your body with your eyes open and looking straight ahead? For example, focus on the sensations in your feet whilst looking straight ahead at something else.

If you practice directing your focus of awareness with eyes open it should give you more feedback - you'll realize if you're moving your eyes straight away. Hopefully it will break the link more quickly.

Luna Serene

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2008, 02:14:21 PM »
Very interseting idea Deanmw, I get this too, less than I used to and mostly when my mind is going off at a tangent abit... nonetheless I just did a session with my eyey open and staring straight ahead (but unfocussed) and found it alot easier to focus on the sensations than I did with my eyes closed but following the feelings. I think it is to do with the fact that im actually just feeling the feelings rather than visualising how I think they feel? Thankyou =)... Good luck in fixing the problem people on this thread  :)

deanmw

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2008, 02:00:19 AM »
I think it is to do with the fact that im actually just feeling the feelings rather than visualising how I think they feel? Thankyou =)... Good luck in fixing the problem people on this thread  :)

Glad it was useful for you. Visualization has never come easy to me. I am more of a kinesthetic type - I find it much easier to imagine myself touching objects and moving around, than seeing them. Consequently visual awareness has never interfered with my felt sense.

I would imagine once you have separated the visual & kinesthetic elements, if you go back to closing your eyes you might be able to go deeper. Meditation is usually associated with high amplitude alpha brain waves as measured by EEG, and eyes open generally suppresses alpha waves.

Flipasso

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2008, 03:39:56 AM »
That's correct deanmw. I study neurophisiology and that's one of the first things we learn during our EEG classes.
Open eyed alpha "only" appears when you're extremely sleepy.

Ystein

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2009, 03:01:43 AM »
I have a related question to that of the original author. Over time, while practicing concentration meditation, I developed a habit of tensing the muscles around the eye area when I make an effort to keep mind in one place. After many observations and experiments the problem was "fixed" by avoiding excess effort and aversion to muscle tension. However the level of effort that does not result in strain seems to be insufficient to keep concentration going. So, should I try to start with minimum effort and work it up to a point where the concentration can build up, or start with the level of effort necessary to maintain concentration and try to relax the tension whenever it arises?

Flipasso

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2009, 02:32:37 AM »
Have you tried meditating with eyes open?!

Matthew

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2009, 09:56:36 AM »
Eyes open, looking at the floor 1 - 2 metres away. Lift the gaze if you become drowsy. That works :)

Matthew
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Ystein

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2009, 04:44:37 PM »
I tried doing it with open eyes for a few days, and the results have been mixed so far. I will have to practice for a few more days(or weeks) to see what the longer term effects are after I get used to it.

Matthew

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2009, 01:38:53 AM »
Fix the eyes on the blank floor in front of you about 1 - 2 metres away so you are not distracted :)
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Ystein

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2009, 01:30:28 AM »
Well, I did it for a number of days with eyes open trying to fix the eyes at 1-2 meters, at a long distance, concentrating on  breath, on the visual objects, on body sensations - all with a similar result. The problem here is that tension around the eyes arises and persists for long periods of time during meditation, which, when practiced over the course of many days, accumulates and does not completely disappear even after a good night's sleep. Some tension may be a natural reaction, for example, when an eye is suddenly exposed to a bright light. However if ignored, it disappears quickly, so it does not bother me. I noticed several sources/types of persistent tension during meditation:

1) Firstly, when I just started doing concentration meditations, my eyes(when closed) would try to focus on whatever spot the mind was focusing on. The method of keeping the eyes open seems to target precisely this problem as the person has some idea of what the eyes are doing and can correct them if needed. With  exprerience this tendency seems to be disappearing.
2)Secondly, continuous conscious effort to pin the mind to the object of concentration produces a byproduct of tension. The more the mind is caught up in something, the more effort is needed to return it back to the object quickly. Unfortunately, this also means that more tension will be produced as a result.  It is as if part of the fuel intended for concentration was diverted to unproductive activities. Only when really tiny amount of effort is applied no noticeable tension tends to arise, and when it does arise, it quickly dissipates. Anything greater in the long run leads to the problems described above. On the flip side, with such a small degree of effort the mind is not very inclined to stay concentrated.
3)Finally, when tension arises for one reason or another, it may spiral out of control, if there is an aversion to it. It would go something like this: Initial tension-->aversion-->more tension--> more aversion, and so on. It seems to be dealt with by observing it with equanimity.

Thus it looks like my question is mostly about the right effort.
A lot of effort -> quick and stable concentration; a lot of tension.
A little effort -> not so quick, but eventually stable concentration; some tension accumulating over time.
Very very little effort -> little to no concentration(even after 1.5-2 hours); no tension.

I am not sure which approach(amount of effort) is more useful in the long run, as each one has shortcomings which I have not been able to overcome.

This is all in reference to concentration meditation. Generally, I do not experience this issue with mindfulness meditation, as the goals are slightly different.

ravalbapu

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2009, 06:46:08 AM »
Eyes are in fact relaxed when we close them.
But we want them to be in our control, so we want them to stop rolling. Once they will stop, you will have the desire to stop the blood flowing. Because that too causes unwanted "noise" in the ears or subtle sensations.

It is a play of our desires to control.

Slightly later we may want to stop heart beating also {I am not joking).
Metta to all.
Sukhi Raho!!!
Ravalbapu

Matthew

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2009, 02:39:12 PM »
Ystein

If you write down the instructions in the video linked here and meditate by them you may find it helps. I'm not joking.

http://vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,440.msg3452.html#msg3452

"Relax, no tension"
"Strong desire make it fail"
"If drowsy open eyes, if sleepy sleep"

In the Dhamma,

Matthew
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Ystein

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2009, 01:40:20 AM »
Those videos are amazing :))

Yes, I noticed that desire and aversion are major actors in this story.

Matthew

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2009, 09:45:16 AM »
They are .. their best friend is ignorance ;)
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ivana

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Re: Eyes that won't relax
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2011, 09:14:19 AM »
Hi
I thank you for your post, I am who is moving eyes after visiting 10dayes course. I thank you for all advice which I read.