Sorry for the morose title, but it does get you to think doesn't it? I came to this thought after spending a few hours at an organized silent eye contact event on Sunday with my friends as well as people I've never met before.
Sitting close to a human being face to face and silently looking at each other is something everyone should do at least once in their lives.
Especially a random stranger.
The first time I had to do an exercise like this was exactly a year ago when I went to a retreat up in Sedona for a few days. It was a meditation related event, and a lot of the activities were designed to get you out of your analyzing left brain and into the sensing, feeling and experiential right brain. Stuff like talking random gibberish to rocks outside or jumping and screaming anything that came to mind at the top of your lungs to awesome music. It definitely pushed my comfort zone and my judgmental side at the time.
Probably at the top of the uncomfortable activities was having to sit down in front of someone, hold both their hands and look straight into their eyes silently for what seemed to me like an eternity.
Especially with people of the opposite sex, man my mind could not stop running. Being present and just there with them was something a little out of my reach at the time.
The second time I had to deliberately do that kind of eye contact was during some personal improvement seminars I took in the beginning of this year. This time, though, we were guided by the leader to notice our thoughts and let them go constantly. Through consistent training and reminders, we developed the idea to just look at someone and be there with them. And it was pretty mind-blowing.
No meaning, no thoughts. Nothing going on. Just the empty yet infinite void of their iris connected to yours - it was like gazing into the abyss of the Universe itself.
I had never been able to do that before in my life.
Afterward I felt so much more connected to people - as if literally a whole new world opened up to me. Eye contact itself become something totally different that I was present to in every conversation.
It was truly amazing.
Well, zoom a few months later to the other day and a group of my friends and I went to an organized eye contact event at the beautiful Steele Indian School Park on an even more beautiful Sunday afternoon.
At first I put my towel down in the grass not knowing what to expect. I wasn't really up for going to different people and honestly I was feeling pretty lazy. I figured whoever was meant to look at me and visa versa would just show up, so I was playing it by ear.
Slowly a few random people came and sat in front of me, then we got to know each other and found out how small the world really is. They say six degrees of separation is all it is between every person in the world. I remembered when that idea first really rang a bell for me when I shook hands with the commissioner of the Social Security Administration. I thought to myself, "Wow, if that idea is true I've basically touched like every major world leader by a degree or two."
It's pretty crazy how true that is. And then if you believe in energy, energy transference, patterns, imprinting, anything of that nature - you can see a big picture that connects us much more than it divides us.
That said, for me the eye contact this time was very natural and easy. I had had plenty of practice at it and quieting my mind was something I found very doable. Not to say that for everyone who I sat with, but the interesting thing to me was more my friends than the random strangers.
At first we were all trying to do it with strangers because probably we'd be "too comfortable" with each other - but the funny thing I found is that even though we were all friends, we had never actually looked into each others' eyes before. Even during some dinner afterward, we all noticed how sitting at the table our gaze would constantly dart around and full, present, rich and connected eye contact was not really there during these casual social situations.
It was pretty interesting to see my friends in a whole new light. Literally.
I like to think I am pretty perceptive of people and can feel or get things about them right away, especially if we are sitting down and staring at each other like that. What I got to see in my friends was a whole different side that I had never seen before - it was vulnerable, open and just ...peaceful.
These types of moments are truly rare these days because we are constantly on the go and being present is something that is not valued in our society - let alone in relationships with others. I love my friends, but most of the time - and I am sure you can relate - we are too busy joking, teasing each other or just plain not bothering to be vulnerable especially in group settings. So although the time spent is fulfilling in like a momentary high kind of way, at the end of the day you never really get to know your friends until these types of moments occur.
In fact you never really get to know anyone until you look into each others' eyes without judgment.
In my friends I saw their inner children, I saw their softness, their qualities of spirit. Things that can't be seen when there's thinking, doing, joking or all the other stuff that goes on on a day to day basis. These are the qualities that give you a deep, connected feeling to people and ultimately compassion, respect and love for another. Why?
Because when you stare into someone's eyes and just look at them, you ultimately see the Universe looking back at you. You see yourself.
You see the struggles, the victories, the soft heart that wants love but maybe is too afraid to express it. You see the inner child curious about the world. You see a strong and willing, loyal heart. I remember riding my bike one day along a street I always drive by and realizing that there were so many beautiful things to see there - bushes, flowers, houses even - but I'd never seen them.
And that's reality - certain things can only be seen when you stop moving.
On my way home that night as I was driving my car, I focused on my breath and took a deep breath in. After practicing being present all day, I looked around and really took notice of everything around me. I thought about how awesome it was to be alive. I thought about laying down in that park and staring up at the sky - at the immensity of it all. Of how I was just this tiny drop of consciousness on a huge sphere rotating through space. I could feel the planet moving almost as the clouds slowly passed above.
I took another deep breath in.
What would it be like if you were given only one breath? I wondered. You could pick any moment in time, but all you got was one. You could make it as deep as possible and exhale as long as you could - but once it was over, back to the spirit realm or wherever we go. What would that be like? What if you could get in that mental space before you take a deep breath in, how grateful would that make you for everything around you at that very moment? How much more would you notice, feel, experience? Try to put yourself in that mindset and play a game - I will. Even the most mundane things become amazing. Try to gobble up all the sensory information before that final squeak of a breath leaks out of your lungs and see what impact that has on your life.
And the best part? There's a glitch in the system and somehow you've been given another breath! Enjoy every moment because, as they say, one day it will be our last.