This post is a central point for this recording of a live-streamed training class. I have posted it online to support my live training in online courses that I run.
This post has the following sections:
- The Class on YouTube
- The Class (talk and meditations) on The Loving Awareness Podcast
- The Meditations on The Meditation Course Podcast
- About The Class
How modifying our optical focus can help us intervene really effectively in anxiety and stress.
View, or listen to, the class on YouTube
Listen to an edited version of the class - often including the talk - on The Loving Awareness Podcast.
Listen to just the meditations on The Meditation Course Podcast.
About the class
The eyes are actually an extension of the brain. The cells in the retina are neurons that have been modified through evolution to process light.
The connections between the eyes and the brain are not typical nerve fibres. They are axons. Axons are the fibres in the brain that pass messages from one neuron to another.
The eyes are also involved in emotional memory processing during a phase of sleep known as rapid eye movement sleep.
The History of optical focus in meditation
The early accounts of meditation, such as that found in the Bhagavad-Gita, an ancient Hindu spiritual text, instructs the meditation student to focus their eyes downwards past the tip of the nose.
“With torso and head held straight, with posture steady and unmoving, gazing at the tip of his nose, not letting his eyes look elsewhere, the Yogi should sit there calm, fearless, firm in his vow to be chaste, his whole mind controlled, directed, focused."
— The Bhagavad Gita by Stephen Mitchell
Downward gazing of the eyes can be seen in many ancient statues of meditators especially those in the Buddhist Tradition.
This practice is taught in the Buddhist tradition as 'softening of the gaze' and 'adopting a downward gaze'.
This can be experienced when practising the mirror meditation which I teach in this class.
Recent studies by Andrew D. Huberman of Stanford University and his research team have identified that softening the gaze and adopting a downward gaze, along with moving the eyes to the periphery of the vision significantly reduces anxiety and stress.