EYE GAZE THERAPY
Look into my eyes and find yourself
Hypnotherapy Eye Gaze technique
There is something magical and mysterious about gazing into another person's eyes. Babies look at you full on directly, as if they're absorbing every moment. Lovers gaze into each other's eyes for hours. There is something deeply satisfying about looking into the "windows of the soul".
On the other hand, there are people who just cannot make eye contact with other people. They avoid looking directly into other people's eyes even for a moment. Some people can only bear it for a few seconds. Whether this is a cause or a symptom of social distance is not clear. What is known is that lack of eye contact is one of the reasons why people feel that they can be rude online.
If you are someone who cannot keep eye contact you can learn how to do it. This can have a profound effect on your self-esteem and the quality of your relationships. If you're not looking at someone when they're talking to you, they will assume that you're not listening. They feel disrespected. This is not great for building rapport and relationships. Don't stare fixedly at the person who is talking. But do practice holding their gaze for longer and longer periods until you feel comfortable with it.
Humans evolved to be able to see other people's eyes, and to be aware of when someone is looking at them. Humans are the only species of ape to have a white section of their eyes. The whites of your eyes, that part of the eye that surrounds the iris and the pupil is called the sclera. If you look at the picture of the monkey above you can see that the monkey does not have any white in its eye.
Scientists believe that the purpose of having whites in your eyes is so that every member of a social group can see where every other member is looking. That way you can know whether you are being accepted or rejected by the group. Eye contact is an essential part of human communication. You can only really listen properly when looking at the face of the person speaking.
So looking into someone's eyes is a basic part of being human. Many people find it embarrassing. They feel uncomfortable, start to laugh, and break the gaze. This tells you that there is some deep psychological connection with looking into another person's eyes.
You can explore this connection through psychological exercises. It is very simple to do, and very powerful.
Explore your unconscious mind with eye gaze therapy
When you look into someone else's eyes for more than a few seconds, you are sharing something between you. There is the feeling that you are seeing into them, and they are seeing into you. This can be unsettling for some people. For other people it can open up profound feelings.
The simplest form of eye gaze therapy is for you to sit or stand opposite another person, with their agreement, and just look into each other's eyes. It doesn't matter if you blink, but don't look away. Keep this up for about two minutes. It is a good idea to use a timer of some sort.
Then discuss with the other person what you felt, what they felt, and how they felt about the whole exercise. This will give you an opportunity to explore your own feelings, and to get to know the other person at a much deeper level.
Then repeat the exercise, only this time for much longer. At least five minutes. Then get the person to draw a picture that represents what they thought, how they felt.
Ask them to start talking about their picture. What they were feeling as they were looking into your eyes? How does the picture represent what they were feeling? Were there parts that they could not put into the picture?
It doesn't matter whether the pictures are well drawn are just some sort of scribble. They are a great way to get the person to open up and explore their emotions.
By asking the person to describe their picture you avoid asking them to talk directly about their true feelings. But they can still express them.
Group eye gaze therapy sessions
Use some place, comfortable, and free from noisy distractions. Get your group of people to form a circle about half an arm's length apart. Then get one person to step into the circle and turn round facing outwards. Then that person moves in front of each person in the circle and looks into their eyes for a few seconds. They don't do anything or say anything, but just moves on to the next person and looks into their eyes. When they have done the full circle they go back to their place. Then the next person does the same thing. This exercise is an "ice-breaker" for the next exercise.
Drawing your subconscious feelings
The next exercise lasts much longer. Get everyone to pair off and sit or stand opposite someone else. Once they are settled comfortably, get them to look into the eyes of the other person for up to 5 minutes. No talking, no moving around, just an unbroken connection through the eyes.
Each person will experience something different. Some people will feel as if they were hypnotised. You may get visions, memories, or start thinking about totally unconnected things. You made disassociate completely and forget where you are and what you're doing.
Once the five minutes is up give each person a piece of paper and something to draw with. Then tell them to draw or sketch or write something that sums up their experience while the through-the-eyes exercise was going on. When the drawings are finished, get each person to discuss their drawing with their partner.
Then get each pair to discuss what they experienced with another pair. When they have done talking, get each group of four to discuss with another group of four until everyone is in one large group. Allow the discussion to continue and explore the themes and ideas that come out of it with the group.
Guided group eye gaze therapy sessions
The results from the first group session will be interesting and insightful. It is now time to try to increase the intensity of the communication. Form your group into pairs again, but with a different partner. Start off exactly as before with each person gazing into the other person's eyes silently and with full attention.
After a few minutes you can start to guide them. What you are basically doing is to give them hypnotic suggestions while they put themselves into trance.
Speak aloud softly, to no one in particular. Just let the suggestions hang in the air. You can say things like "Who is the observer observer, or the observed?". "How deep can I fall into those eyes?". "Mind drifting, floating, going wherever it wants to be." "Who am I really?" "Really let go." "Falling into that stare." "Looking through, beyond, within." "Connecting to everything and nothing, reaching out to the collective, being aware of everything and nothing." "Something opening deep inside."
When you think the time is right, bring them all back to the present. Say to them "in a moment I'm going to begin counting from five up to one. When we get to one we are back in the present, and ready to share what you have learned." And then start counting aloud slowly "5-4-3-2-1".
Social Use of Eye Gaze therapy
The eye gaze exercises also a fun thing to do at a party to get people talking and get to know each other. Depending on how well you know the people, and the sort of social setting it is, you can do some variant of the exercises above.
Or if it is a very large number of people there you can get them to line up in two rows closely facing each other. Get each person to look into the eyes of the person opposite. Anyone who giggles or moves or breaks their gaze is told to go and sit down. Eventually you'll be left with a few people who can continue to gaze at each other indefinitely. Decide in advance whatever number you will stop with. When you get that number, announce that the game is finished and give all the finalists a prize or a drink or something. It's a very simple game but usually a whole lot of fun. It will certainly get people talking and getting to know each other.