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  • Writer's pictureSue Schleifer

Eyes Open/Eyes Closed

I have been experimenting with listening with my eyes open and with my eyes closed. This started in a Pilates session when by chance I had a private class, and it was especially quiet in the studio. I realized that I was keeping my eyes open as my teacher, Alyce, gave verbal movement cues. I was practicing listening and moving my body through space as I would in normal life, with my eyes open.

Usually there are other people in class and several talking at once. I often close my eyes in an effort to focus on the voice of my teacher. I’m attempting to limit the inputs, but I realize that I am also limiting my ability to function in the busy environments we now live in.

In the Kwan Um School of Zen, we are instructed to keep our eyes open in meditation. This is another example of practicing to be present and in the moment, listening to my mind and body without shutting out the world around me. Sometimes I do close my eyes when I meditate. I try to make a conscious decision to do this rather than out of habit.

When I coach clients via the telephone, I ask them to practice being fully present on the call. To do this, I suggest that they face away from their computer if they can’t be in a different room altogether, turn off other devices, wear a headset or earbuds so that their hands and body are free to stand or take notes. We are practicing focusing on our voices, on listening, and thinking without multi-tasking. This is surprisingly hard for some people and also a useful skill to practice.

Lately I have been getting annoyed by all the noise in the world. I realize that I am going to have to adapt. I will choose to create havens of quiet where it is easier for me to listen to nature, my body, my thoughts, my friends, clients, and loved ones. And, I will practice listening in noisy environments too, with my eyes open.

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