Have you ever stared into somebody’s eyes for 5 minutes without looking away? Can you imagine doing that?
I am in the middle of a yoga assisting workshop with my favorite yoga teachers right now. I was not sure whether I should sign up for the course since I do not like touching sweaty people very much. I decided I should sign up because I don’t like touching sweaty people. In other words, I feel the need to escape my comfort zone. At a minimum, I will extract wonderful nuggets of yoga wisdom and technique from a 20 hour yoga course. Or, because possibilities in life are limitless if you try new things, perhaps this yoga assisting workshop would be a catalyst for many more awesome yoga adventures in the future.
Last Saturday, the first thing we did in the yoga assisting workshop was pair up with another student, sit ourselves right in front of them, where we were told to lock eyes with them for an undefined amount of time.
After the first minute of the intense stare down, I was really uncomfortable. I smiled uncomfortably. I wished it would end. I thought about what my partner was thinking staring at my face for that long. Was she uncomfortable? Was she judging me? Then I started obsessing over which eye to stare at – the right or the left.
Then I noticed my partner was blinking her eyes very slowly. It was almost like a meditation for me to watch. I began to feel really relaxed and comforted looking into her peaceful eyes. I started blinking my eyes really slowly as well so maybe I could offer her the same peaceful feeling I was receiving from her.
After five minutes or so when we were released from our staring assignment, my partner and I gave each other a big hug. I felt a real connection to her. The staring assignment seemed really intimate, like in a shared connection kind of way.
When we went around the room in yoga circle time, explaining how we felt about the assignment, most people felt the same way about staring at someone’s face (who you don’t even know) for so many minutes. We all felt pretty uncomfortable at first, but ended up feeling really good and connected to each other. One person observed that he doesn’t ever look into his spouses’ eyes for very long.
I decided to try it with my kids. I brought them into my room by themselves so we could have peace and quiet. I started with Elsa. At first when we were staring at each other she was giggling. She giggled for about 20 seconds and then she said, “can we stop now?” I said no. She stared at my eyes for another minute. She was peaceful and quiet. I told her we could stop and asked her how it made her feel to stare into my eyes. She said it made her feel happy. Then she asked me how it made me feel. I said it made me feel very connected to her and her beautiful eyes.
Next I brought Violet in for a stare down. She was giggling as well. Then just like Elsa she asked if we could stop. I said no. Ten seconds later she asked if she could play the iPad after we stared at each other. I think she felt like I was at a vulnerable moment in my life. I said no. Then she asked if she could itch her ear. I said yes. Then she started making really funny faces and I started laughing. We stopped staring. When I asked her how it made her feel, she also said it made her feel happy, but she then she said she didn’t know why.
Preston was really excited to stare. He took it much more seriously than his sisters for about 20 seconds, and then he let out an uncomfortable chuckle. He then asked the most popular question of the exercise, which was can we be done now. I told him we needed to stare at each other for another minute longer. He counted to 60 in his head and then declared he was done. I asked him how it made him feel and he said “happy.”
The triplets all used the exact same word happy to describe the experience!
Ava could have stared forever. She did not seem uncomfortable or silly about it. She seemed to be completely at ease with staring at me. She didn’t laugh or ask to be done. She stared at me pleasantly. When we were done I asked her how it made her feel and she said it made her feel very calm and peaceful. Those were her exact words.
It was nice to know that when my children were forced to stare at me for an extended amount of time they all felt happy, calm and peaceful.
When is the last time you really looked into somebody’s eyes? Try it. It is a unique meditation. You may be pleasantly surprised about what comes up for you after getting past the uncomfortable part.
Until next time, the mothership is signing off.