What if the Secret to Happiness is in Your Eyes?
Pause for a minute and imagine there are tiny drivers in the center of each of your eyeballs. (I know. Just hang in there. It’s going to get really good.) Think about the energy of your eyes, where the energy is focused. Are you looking so intently at these words, at this page, at the world past the page that your drivers have their feet pressed hard against the gas?
I’m guessing that your eyes are going about 100 m.p.h while your body, a heavier, more cumbersome machine, has the brakes on so you can sit still and focus. That means your eyes are spinning their wheels, trying to drive off into the sunset while your body is trying to be in the present moment.
A long time ago my life coach Katie Peuvrelle taught me soft focus. She stood behind me while I sat in a chair, and she held either hand, fingers gently moving, about eighteen inches from my face. She had me look forward while I followed her hands with my peripheral vision. She slowly moved her hands toward the back of my head until I couldn’t see them anymore. She brought her hands back into the edge of my peripheral vision so that, while looking forward, I could also still see her gently moving fingers.
That is soft focus. Sometimes when I used to teach college and the class seemed like it needed a ninja move, I’d pull this on them and the energy shift in the room was always palpable. It was like there was more space to think and be.
You could go see Katie to learn more of how this exercise puts you in an optimal learning state (I think she told me that I can’t be angry and have soft focus, but every time I am angry I forget to think about my eyes), but I want you to try it so you can experience what it feels like to have your eyeballs resting back in your head, what it feels like to not have your mini-drivers pressing the accelerator. I want you to feel at home in your body because I want that for myself, and I have noticed that my eyes may be steering the ship that leads me into fatigue and anxiety.
What if when you are born and your mother disappears, or when you are small and experience some sort of trauma that isn’t adequately addressed, you spend the rest of your life unconsciously staring into the space ahead, looking around corners you haven’t even reached yet? What if your eyes are on constant watch for trouble even when you are eating dinner in a beautiful space surrounded by people who love you? What if part of your body is going at 100 m.p.h., burning through glucose, causing rushes of stress hormones to wash your over your organs, when you are doing what you consider self-care? What if, when you get a massage, you are staring at the ceiling, your eyeballs driving right through the roof of the building into outer space. Am a safe? What’s going to happen next? Am I okay? Was that a tumor? How old is this building?
What if every morning you imagined that the back of your head--the part of your skull you and hopefully no one else will ever see, the inside part, the part that keeps your brain from running down the back of your shirt, and saw a blackboard? What if every day you wrote something dear to yourself on this empty space: You are love. You are wonderful. Every day you are stronger. You are perfect; what if you imagined that instead of looking out, your eyes looked in to focus on these messages of devotion and, at the same time, using a kind of soft focus, you looked out at the world to see the faces of your beloveds and expense reports and oncoming traffic?
The drivers in your eyeballs could take a nap. They could put their feet up on the dash have a well-deserved and hopefully, very, very long, break.
If the drivers in your eyes start to rest, your posture may well improve, for if your energy isn’t driven forward by your gaze, then your head won’t follow forward, putting that big melon in front of your shoulders instead of balancing over them. When you have head-forward posture (just look at me if you need an example), you put strain on your neck muscles. This causes headaches, and systemic body issues because really we are just one big tight unit of skin and fasicia, and so one area of tightness affects and pulls on the whole. This means the soles of your feet know you have forward-head posture. I’m telling you, those feet of yours are feeling the burn.
Our bodyminds want to keep us safe. Our bodyminds also want us to relax. Deepak Chopra makes zillions of dollars off this paradox. We are babies in a world that tells us we are about to die, and in reaction we keep scratching our own itches with lit matches.
We can be our own Deepak. We can bring love into the house by painting a heart or the word peace or acceptance or whatever it is you most want onto the theater of the mind that is the back of your skull and by putting 55% (because 55 is more than half—it’s a great start!) of our attention on it, 24/7. Yes, this takes focus. No, most likely you can’t live the way you are and do something like this.
You say you want to change, to feel more at home, to feel more relaxed, to be happier, but is that really true? Is what you really mean that you want to stay just as you are and talk about how you would like things to change? I can be like that. It’s such bullshit.
I’m so used to having this heavy-footed drivers in the center of my eyes that stress feels normal to me. What feels weird is feeling quiet, safe, full of love. I get so excited and fearful. This good feeling is so wonderful! I can feel it pulling at the edges of my skin, like all these good feelings are too big for my body. I start to think about these feelings disappearing. I wonder when this will happen. The drivers in my eyes are suddenly sitting in Teslas and are going 150 m.p.h. Slowly the air leaks out of the balloon as my system fatigues, and soon enough I am back to where I started.
In my 20s, I was addicted to driving cross-country. Once I did it in four days. I would pull into rest stations, nap, start driving again. My whole self was following the speed of my eyes. I wanted to be anywhere but where I was, and driving was one way to escape the life I didn’t know how to live. I had the radio, the road flying under the wheels. I’ve never done crack, but I was on some sort of heavy drug in that car that I think of as crack. I had found a way to tolerate being in a body: the only catch, of course, was that whenever I stopped the feelings I was running from pooled into my brain and I had to be present with that.
The following thirty years have been a process of slowly getting my foot off the gas. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even have a car and relish staying in a single room for an entire day. This kind of peace and easy happiness feels so not like me and so like me all at the same time. Sometimes I just want to get all worked up just so I can remember I am alive.
It’s funny how slowing down can be more work than speeding along in your life.
What are the drivers doing now in your eyes? Is the energy that drives your gaze forward equal to the forward energy of your body? Can you see your secret message (You are enough) in the theater of you?