We have the amazing capacity to direct our awareness around the body, toward thoughts, feelings and sensations. We can hold our whole body in awareness, or bring our awareness to a particular area. Just like a camera, we can pan in and out, directing our attention to a physical sensation, an emotion, or a thought, for example. We can swiftly scan the body from head to toe or vice versa, or take however long we wish, meticulously paying attention to every toe, joint, or nuance of sensation.
Many people however, often find the body scan a challenging meditation to practice. Over long periods, boredom can easily set in, which can be an interesting thing to bring our awareness to, or we can find ourselves just going through the motions. Further, where does one direct the attention? The left foot, right foot, both at once? We can find ourselves oscillating from left to right, not knowing exactly where to place our attention.
In many ways it does not matter where we place our attention, it is the ability to pay attention itself that we are training. Bringing a kind and gentle awareness to one part of the body or a particular sensation can be fruitful for our practice, enabling us to pay attention to the small things, with less distraction and confusion.
The eyes are a particularly interesting part of the body, but a part of the body we can very much take for granted. They work so hard for us from morning until night, taking in millions of stimuli form the environment. But they also hold emotions, and sensations such as tiredness and stress. Giving them some of our care and attention can help us to value their role in our life, and enable us to meditate at a more subtle level than a typical body scan.
Try this meditation:
The Eye Meditation
Sitting in your usual posture, begin by taking a few deep breaths.
Keeping your eyes open, bring your attention to the area between the eye brows.
Notice what you feel there.
There may be a little tension there or a feeling of softness and openness; just notice it, as well as any corresponding feeling in the body.
Invite any feeling of pleasure or discomfort into your awareness.
Now, circling around the eyes, move your awareness past the eyebrows, to the temples, and down below the eyes. What can you notice here? A tautness? A tiredness?
Bring your attention to the tear ducts. Do they carry any emotions? Remind yourself perhaps of some of the joys and dramas that have played out here, and the many times the tears have cleaned the eyes when needed. Bring a sense of kindness and appreciation to this area.
Now, move you attention to the eyelids. Notice how they shield and cover the eyes; notice too their gentle but quick movement as they blink. Again, appreciating their role in cleansing the eyes.
Now, bring your awareness to your eye balls. Notice how they sit deep in the sockets, and the moistness that surrounds them.
Notice too any emotions in the eye balls, remaining open to whatever you find there.
You may also notice very subtle sensations on the surface of the eye. Bring a sense of curiosity to these, and how they change.
Now, close your eyes. Notice the warmth of the eye lids across the eye balls. Notice too the different shades of light and colour that you can see, and how they move around. Again, bring your attention to any subtle movement in the eyes. For those with impaired sight, focus on the movement and any sensations that you notice.
Now, before you bring this meditation to a close, just hold the whole of the eyes and the areas around the eyes in your awareness. Breathing in, imagine the coolness of the breath gently washing over this area, refreshing the eyes. Breathing out, hold the whole body in your awareness, including any emotional and physical sensations.
When you feel ready, open the eyes slowly and gently, noticing any sensations remaining in that area.
You may wish to experiment with one eye at a time.