Avidya, or the “lack of light,” is a symptom of not identifying with the deeper and greater part of our self. We all have an inherent light within us, whether we call it the soul, the atman, or something else entirely. We are each equipped with this light, but we struggle to see it in ourselves! We can easily see it in those we love, so it is worthwhile to practice finding it in others in order to see it in ourselves.
This practice requires a willing partner, someone you know and love well enough to participate with you. Sit or stand in a comfortable position so that you are an arm’s length from your partner, facing him or her. Set a timer for five minutes (or longer, if you’d like), and close your eyes. Release all nervousness or tension from the body and soften any giggles or laughter, as it’s merely a symptom of the anxiety of bearing witness to one another.
At the same time, both of you open your eyes and look directly into the eyes of one another. For the duration of this practice there is no language—no verbal or body communication. Relax your physical form and commit to looking only into your partner’s eyes. Look nowhere else. Sustain this gaze for the entire duration of the practice.
When the time is up, both of you close your eyes and relax for a moment. Exchange no words or physical gestures. Take a few moments in silent gratitude to meditate on the gift you’ve each been given. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it is rare that we make eye contact with others, let alone maintain it for any significant period of time. The eyes, however, are the windows to the soul, and when someone lets you look into their eyes for a sustained amount of time, you see—and connect with—the deepest part of them that is exactly like you. You see their frustrations and develop faith in their ability to overcome them. You witness their humanness and fall in love with their vulnerability. You see in each other a reflection of yourselves, connecting to the light in each of you that exists in all of us.
Once the moments of silent gratitude have ended, you both may open your eyes. At this point, please allow yourselves to do whatever is natural—hug, laugh, cry, embrace, or walk away. Follow your intuition in these next moments and allow whatever arises from this practice to be perfect and acceptable.
As you develop your practice of eye gazing with your partner (or several partners!), feel free to add in the following development. Halfway through the session, one of you (without words or dialogue) places your hand on the other person’s heart. With your fullest intention and attention, send through your hand all your love, gratitude, well wishes, and hopes for ease and grace in life. Maintain eye contact and keep your hand on their heart for an amount of time that feels natural. Once you are finished, the other partner may return the gesture. After the exchange, continue to eye-gaze until the time is complete.
This is a practice of mutual respect, intimacy, and vulnerability. It develops your ability to see and be seen, to witness without judgment and to understand that we are all infused with an impeccable light of being. To know it in others is to eventually know it in yourself.