“I see you.” This quote from Avatar had a lot of people looking at each other and saying it. But did they understand how actually seeing someone can be a source of the deepest intimacy? When was the last time you looked at someone without judgement and let someone look at you? How do you feel when someone looks at you?
For us Tantra is about simplicity in its practice and symmetry and this month’s guide is centering around a powerful technique we use in all our workshops: Soul-Gazing. The simplicity is the technique itself and the symmetry is that you are both giving the gaze and receiving the return gaze. In the Tantric tradition the art of gazing is developed by focusing one’s eyes on a yantra — a geometric form symbolizing a certain energy pattern, or the image of a deity, becoming one with the form and experiencing the force behind it. Based on a technique developed by Oscar Ichazo, founder of the Arica school, adapted to the Tantric perspective, soul-gazing works in a similar fashion, your partner disappears and you experience the other person as part of yourself.
The simplest method is to sit facing each other, comfortably, back straight, spine relaxed. Sit close together. Touch each other’s hands in a relaxed fashion. Breathing deeply and slowly, through the nose, close the eyes go inside mind and body. When you feel quiet, squeeze the hand and wait for the return signal. Open the eyes and let the gazes connect. (Keep your eyes relaxed). Look into the left eye of your partner, the receptive eye. Direct your complete attention to your gaze. Slowly, notice the breathing of your partner and gently harmonize the inhale and exhale.
It is that simple, doing this for 5 minutes or 5 hours can have profound effects: A lot can arise, thoughts bubbling to awareness, fear of being judged and self-judging. Initially, there may be the urge to break contact, to wonder what the other sees in oneself, emotions and uncomfortable feelings and thoughts as the mind tries to intervene and it can be challenging. However, by continuing to breathe, and gaze without judging, keeping it soft and gentle the mind quietens and by continuing to accept the gaze of the other while gazing oneself, a calmness and a depth of connection can form. It is that willingness to be open, to let someone in, in the knowledge that they are doing the same with your gaze, neither are judging the other, but simply accepting and respecting which allows the both move beyond resistance, beyond the masks that have been worn and into a state of truly seeing and experiencing the other while seeing and experiencing themselves. In that state true intimacy naturally develops, flows and strengthens. It can take you out of yourself and into the other, to re-experience that connection and bond that has always existed but may have been buried. Within a tantric sacred space, this gazing may last for an hour or more, but even if you take 5 minutes a day to gaze at each other and feel the difference in your relationship. It could be the best five minutes you have ever spent.