LEARNING TO GAZE
1) Sit easily in a relaxed, upright position.
2) Take a couple of deep breaths.
3) Relax your face and your eyes. Allow them to find an angle of view which is relaxed and comfortable – a slightly downwards gaze is usually good.
4) Put your attention on your vision, but do not focus your eyes on anything specific. Allow them simply to gaze in a relaxed manner, taking in whatever can be seen.
You may find you have a tendency to focus on something in particular, if so, just relax your sight once more or take your awareness to the edges of your area of vision (without moving the eyes at all). This usually helps to regain a relaxed, open sight.
5) If you feel restless or unsettled give yourself something else to rest your attention upon.
Keeping your eyes relaxed, turn the attention to whatever you are hearing. See if you can relax your hearing in the same way as your vision – not distinguishing individual sounds or identifying them, but listening to all sounds that are happening simultaneously. (It is easy to forget that our hearing is as selective as our sight – recording the sounds in the room we are in clearly demonstrates how we habitually ignore many of the sounds around us that the machine cannot block out).
Alternatively, put your attention on the breath. There are various ways of doing this.
One of the easiest is simply to notice that, whilst breathing gently through a slightly opened mouth, the cool inbreath can be felt as it passes over the palette at the back of the mouth, whilst on the outbreath the warmed air cannot be felt at all.
Just a light attention on this phenomenon is enough to quieten the mind. Restlessness itself can be relaxed into.
Avoid the idea that physical, mental or emotional stillness is required. What is required for gazing is simply not to get absorbed by any sensation, thought or experience. Suppressing energy only stirs up more energy. Energy subsides by itself in its own time if you just allow it to.
6) So simply remain, allowing sense impressions, thoughts, images, feelings, to come and go whilst you continue gazing in a relaxed way.Initially you might find it easier to close the eyes for a moment or two to settle yourself down, but it is then a good idea to open the eyes again, as it is easier to remain without drifting away into sleepiness or dream states.There is no need to do this exercise for long periods of time.Two or three minutes on a regular basis gets us used to being comfortable in a state of calm without focus, without activity, without the need to do anything other than register our life.
Looking at a gently changing scene can be helpful to gazing. Watching the surface of flowing water, looking at the changing clouds in the sky, or the leaves on a tree, grasses undulating in the wind, all help to establish a calm, trance (entranced) state. The word ‘trance’ has come to mean ‘unaware’, ‘fooled’, unfocused’, whereas trance is really what gazing is all about. The state of trance (of which there are an endless variety of degrees of experience), is simply the turning of our attention away from the conscious, surface, language-based rational processes of the mind, towards a more open, relaxed and curious state of awareness. Ordinary awareness is one window we choose to look through. Sleep is another, dream is another, imagination is another, trance is another. All these states are natural to the human being and all are effortless to achieve. Once you have had a little experience with gazing you will appreciate how easily we can slip from one state of awareness to another in a smooth continual process. Gazing simply helps us to watch the world (internal and external), in a more neutral manner. We become less an individual experiencing and judging events (interpreting patterns), and more simply a location in time and space on the universal field witnessing local events. This sublimation, or turning away from individual judgemental thought is essential if we are to access tree spirit consciousness in useful ways. Gazing exercises help us to broaden out our experience. We become an experience happening, rather than someone having an experience.