For six months, I was compelled to do Yoga with my eyes closed. (Learn more about this here!) I didn’t realize how much I was learning from the experience until I stopped.
When I did yoga with my eyes closed, I didn’t look at other people. I didn’t think about what they thought of me doing yoga with my eyes closed. I didn’t notice if they were thinner or prettier than I am. I didn’t notice other yogis doing flawless handstands while I was scared to lift my second foot off the floor. I didn’t notice if my tummy was peeking out from under my yoga shirt, or if my hair was askew.
I did notice how I felt in my body, what each pose activated, stretched, regenerated or balanced. I noticed how my inhale helped me to lengthen, and my exhale to relax. I noticed how my focus (without a visual focal point) helped me to move to the edge but not go over. I noticed that I had fewer distracting thoughts, and more moments of clarity. Mostly I noticed that while I was doing yoga, yoga was also doing me. Yoga with my eyes closed was teaching me confidence, trust, concentration. And it was teaching me to stop comparing myself to every other person (inside or outside of the yoga studio); to pay attention to everything I hear, feel and intuit; and to understand how much more important how I feel is than how I look.
I encourage you to have a similar experience. In fact, yoga teachers frequently ask their students to do portions or all of a class with eyes closed. Try it, whether your teacher asks you to or not. And if you don’t do yoga, try it with another activity. When you first start to close your eyes, especially if you are in front of other people, you may feel silly, embarrassed, weird. But notice how, once you close your eyes and block out your imagined vision of everyone staring and wondering what you are doing, how you become more relaxed and stop being aware of the possibility of being judged.
Note, if you’re actually blind, you likely already experience the things discussed here on a daily basis. Maybe you want to appreciate the observations you make of which others have no concept, or deepen your enjoyment of these observations. Instead of thinking of them as just how you relate to the world, have a sense of wonder at how you put these bits of information together. Slow down and really understand what you are processing and how.
Here are a few activities I have done that can produce a remarkable experience.
Eat with your eyes closed. Take a bite, then close your eyes, smell your food, put it in your mouth and feel your teeth push through the food. Feel the texture on your tongue. Taste the individual flavors. Describe it in your head to yourself.
Try walking around your home, or finding something on your desk, with your eyes closed. Use all of your senses to help you figure things out. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, hear the sound of a ticking clock on the wall that helps you know which way you are facing. Smell the coffee brewing (just because it smells good, but it also will tell you which direction to the kitchen).
Experience a public place with your eyes closed. You’ll probably want to do this seated. Listen, feel, smell everything you can. Feel how it is to make conclusions based on only three of your five senses (I’m assuming there will be nothing to taste.)
Think of your own ways of experiencing the world (and yourself) in a different way. Open to how this moves you and what you learn. Who knows, maybe you can, like Chevy Chase in Caddyshack, experience golf with your eyes closed?
Don’t forget to yell, “Fore!” my friends!