The body has great power to lead the mind. In Richard Wiseman’s interesting book, As If Principle, he lines up a large quantity of recent studies showing how a change of muscle tone, posture, and other seemingly small adjustments to the body produce large changes in mental status. Changing eye positions can also yield large changes in our states of mind.
Eye Position 1: Gazing Off Into Space – We don’t often admit it but we all stare off into space (or television, or computer screen) from time-to-time. Our conscious minds flip off and our self identity is gone for at least those staring moments.
The next time you snap out of staring, stop and notice where you have been staring. Was it downward? To the left, right, straight on? Later, when you have some downtime, let your gaze return to this spot and see if you find yourself drifting quickly inward or if at least, see if your mental chatter falls off.
Eye Position 2: Story Telling Gaze Spot – When we get going, recounting some event or story to a friend, we switch our gazing around. Sometimes it is to the eyes of the listener but frequently we start gazing downward at the floor or a point some distance away. This is especially true if we have to switch inward and recover memories and memories of our feelings or deeper thinking about what we are talking about. It is as though we have to shut down the stimuli coming into our minds by staring off at some unremarkable point and this allows us to drop into our memory and thinking processes. The next time you are telling such a story, notice where you eyes fix. Bring that observation up when you wish to do some solitary deep thinking and fix your eyes in the same position and see if this pulls you more deeply within.
Eye Position 3: Eyes-Closed, Looking Straight Ahead Sharper Mind Gaze – When we close our eyes to go inward, we let our eyes drift to the same location they follow when we are falling asleep. In stage 1 of sleep our eyes are dropped and almost “crossed”. As we go deeper into this stage our eyes move in an asychronous manner. When doing imagination work, try breaking out of this position by keeping your eyes closed but bring your eyes up to the central position you would use if you were looking at someone straight on when your eyes are open. Notice any change in mental clarity. Usually this position has a waking effect that might be useful to bring greater clarity to your visualizations and related work.
Eye Positions 4 to 9: Eyes-Closed, NLP Gazes – After highly detailed study of the work of innovative hypnotist Milton Erickson, researchers discovered that people assume a variety of eye positions as they turn inward. When trying to remember a visual, auditory, or body memory people will look to the left. When trying construct a visual, auditory, or body imaginative experience, people look to the right. The chart below show the NLP gazes in greater detail.
Experiment: Now for putting those gazes to work. With eyes closed and in a good state of relaxation, move your eyes into one of the positions and let them rest there. Note if images or other sensory impressions come up or not. Move slowly from each position to position, explore as you go.
Experiment: Some find that mind chatter falls away by moving the eyes into the looking right positions. Going right means we are trying to construct images which may be a powerful counter to mind chatter focused on the past such as guilt, shame, or faulting for taking action or lack of action in the past. If we are troubled by future concerns such as worry, perhaps looking left, towards memory might silent the construction-ability that is part of worry (worry is a constructed view of the future). This is especially helpful during those times when troubling images or inner talk is pressing down on us.