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Eyes Open or Closed?

Buddha statue with closed eyes
What is better? Practicing Qigong with open or closed eyes?

Another common question I get a lot from students just beginning their Qigong journey is whether or not their eyes should be open or closed during their practice. While there is actually no one right answer for this, providing some perspective can be useful both as you establish a Qigong training program, and once you’ve become quite advanced.

In my classes, I start by giving the instructions to close your eyes before standing upright any relaxed. While closing the eyes isn’t necessary, it helps to put the mind into a more relaxed state and prepare for practice. When one is just beginning to learn what can seem like an esoteric art to some, this is a way to let go of our intellectual mind so that we can start to let our energy do the work for us. Also, with closed eyes, there’s simply less scenery around to distract your monkey mind, which also helps you let go.

As such, this is great way to start to build the skill of entering into a Qigong state.

Over time, when we become more advanced in our practice, entering into this state becomes as easy as touching our nose. But arguably, gaining skill can also sometimes open a door to taking it for granted, in the same way anybody takes for granted something that they’ve become quite good at doing. This is a human pitfall and learning to notice it in your training and work with it is simply part of the process. A more advanced student might close their eyes, feel groovy and relaxed, but then start to pull on the thread of monkey-mind thoughts that invariably arise as one tries to enter stillness.

Once someone has built a solid Qigong foundation, it can also be useful from time to time to practice with your eyes open. Bear in mind that at this point you should have a skillfully trained mind. When taking the time to practice with eyes open, it provides further training for the mind, requiring it to continuously be without thought, even though the senses of sight are also stimulating us.

There are of course, no hard or fast rules to eyes open or shut. Different methods yield different results that can help take our training to the next level, if we’re ready for it. How about you? What have you noticed with either mode?

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