Your eyes—the path to you and to rest
Your poor eyes.
If you’re like me, you spend hours behind a computer or staring at your tiny smartphone screen. So much looking, typing, watching videos, messaging, editing pictures, driving, reading!
Your eyes may lead the way to feeling tired. But when you soothe them, they can help you feel renewed and to rest.
This mind-driven culture affects the eyes. When you are deep in thought, you likely visualize where you’re going, what you’re doing, who you’re talking to. Your eyes unconsciously move as you think, even when your eyelids are closed.
That engages a lot of small muscles, constantly at work. The strain in your eyes can permeate into your neck, shoulders, and whole posture, adding tension and disconnection from the body.
Your eyes are usually the first way you know when you’re sleepy, tired, or need a break from the day to day. On the other hand, resting your eyes creates a lot more relaxation than you might think.
Help your eyes release
During the day, you can renew when you’re drained by giving your eyes a break: Cover your eyes with your hands (palms to eyes, knuckles over your eyebrows, heel of the hands on your cheekbones) to create the most darkness. Hold this for a minute or two, maybe imagining a black room with no light. That helps your eyes relax as your pupils dilate.
At night, soothing your eyes is a key “lullaby” step to rest. I use it often when sleep has forgotten to visit. As my eyes soften, it soothes my whole body, opening the door to rest and sleep. An eye mask also reminds my eyes that it’s time to do nothing but welcome dreams.
You can use this reflection to soften your eyes. (Even as you read it, take a moment to feel the small muscles around the eyes softening.) Listen to the recording in bed to help your eyes and body let go.
Gently lower or close your eyes and notice their sensations. Can you imagine the lubricated orbs held by your eyelids and eye sockets? If you can, imagine your eyelids having more room, maybe they let go just 5%.
Then see if you can imagine your eye sockets settling into your head. They don’t have to work so hard. Your eyes have more room to be and to soften.
Perhaps you can imagine seeing through your peripheral vision. Imagine (when your eyes are closed) or perceive (when your eyes are open) the areas to the sides of you, a bit above and below you. This soothes your whole nervous system.
Imagine in your peripheral vision that you can see the stars gazing down on you or the earth supporting you. As you free your eyes from just looking straight forward, you welcome in the dream state.
As your eyes rest, waves of relaxation may shift down your neck, connecting you to the wisdom of your body.
Your eyes are a bridge
Our eyes bridge the everyday world to the deeper one. This poem, Sweet Darkness by David Whyte, reflects that:
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.