Cultivating a Sense of Presence and Awareness

Meditation is often done eyes closed. Soft-gaze meditation can broaden our visual field and encourage an open, receptive quality of attention.

For many of us, meditation is often done eyes closed. And yet when we’re outside in nature, and also just in our life, our eyes are open. And it’s really important to learn how to stay present when our eyes are open. 

So I’m going to be teaching a practice that’s a beautiful way to cultivate a sense of presence and awareness in nature—with the eyes open—that you can apply anywhere, from sitting at your desk, sitting in a room, to looking at a vast landscape of sky, ocean, mountains. I call it a soft-gaze meditation. 

When the eyes are open in meditation, we’re not looking like we might, for example, look at a leaf, or a phone screen. We’re not studying and analyzing what we’re looking at. Instead, it’s a very soft, relaxed, receptive, open gaze.

Practicing a Mindful Soft Gaze

This practice of mindful seeing, soft gaze, we’re receiving through the eyes in the same way we receive through the ears when listening. When we listen, we don’t do listening. Listening happens by our simply being open and aware of sounds. The same is true with this seeing practice. We’re not doing seeing; we’re not looking as though…

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About the author

Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman is the author of Make Peace with Your Mind and Awake in the Wild. He is the founder of the Mindfulness Institute and has an MA in Clinical Psychology. Mark has guided students on five continents as a corporate consultant, counselor, meditation teacher, and wilderness guide. He lives in Northern California. Visit him online at MarkColeman.org.

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