The Light Itself

The Light Itself

The object of concentration


The goal of this exercise is to get you to notice the difference between looking at something and paying attention to it. This will be an essential skill for Concentration Meditation.

Sit at a table with two objects in front of you, one to the left and one to the right. It can be any object (like a knife and a fork or two glasses). They will be referred to as L for the leftmost object and R for the rightmost object from now on.

Look at L and notice how your attention is fixed on it as you look at it.

Look at R and notice how your attention is fixed on it as you look at it.

While keeping your eyes on R, bring back your attention on L. It should feel similar to trying to hear something behind you or as if you were trying to look through your skull. Notice the sensation of looking at something and focusing on something. What is the difference? What happens to your sight when you move your attention? What happens to your attention when you move your eyes?

Practice dissociating the two by doing the following:

  1. Eyes and attention on L
  2. Keep eyes on L, move attention on R
  3. Keep attention on R, bring eyes to R
  4. Keep eyes on R, move attention on L
  5. Keep attention on L, bring eyes on L
  6. Repeat.

Practice this cycle until you clearly feel the dissociation. Then try doing the same exercise, but with the eyes leading. Experiment as if you were doing ice-skating figures. Have fun!

Extra practice:

Close your eyes and focus your attention on your right ear. Notice how your eyes look to the right behind your eyelids. Learn to repress that tendency. There is no reason to “look” anywhere if your eyes are closed.

Close your eyes and wait for a moment. Don’t think of anything. After a while, pay attention to your eyes. Are they moving around randomly? Are you clenching your eyelids every now and then as if you were blinking even though your eyes are closed? Why are you blinking if your eyes are closed? What is the cause of all these useless eye movements? 

Try to stop your eye movement without effort.

“The eyes are the mirror of the soul” just took a different meaning. The involuntary activity of your eyes behind your closed eyelids is an indication of how much the soul is cluttered by mental activity.