Everyday Mindfulness

Do You Struggle to Close Your Eyes While You Meditate? One Researcher Has The Answer

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Here’s how one researcher is planning on making your meditation practice restful and relaxing.

A researcher in Chicago, Illinois, is hoping to solve a problem that has been impacting meditators around the world: keeping their eyes closed while meditating. Dr. Larry Joyce, Head of Research at the Meta Institute for Innovative Contemplative Technology Advancement, describes how sitting in his first meditation class made him aware of this issue. 

“I remember the first time I ever sat down to meditate and I remember feeling so restless; It felt impossible to keep my eyes closed. I thought I was doing something wrong until I looked around the room and saw that no one else was closing their eyes,” Dr. Joyce says. “It’s really what motivated me to create MedMa.”

MedMa, an abbreviation of “meditation mask,” is a device that consists of multiple, microscopic weights enclosed in silk fabric that provide a slight pressure on the eyelids when placed over the eyes. The device also includes a lightweight band that wraps around the meditator’s head to ensure the device stays in place during your meditation session.

While Dr. Joyce is still running pilot studies to prove the effectiveness of the device, he says it could change the way we meditate, forever.  

“Participants in the study have reported that they’ve been able to keep their eyes closed for 7-8 hours and describe feeling refreshed when they open their eyes,” Dr. Joyce reports. One participant, Stephen Feron, told Mindful how using this device has helped him cultivate a daily mindfulness practice. 

“Whenever a meditation teacher would start off the practice by telling me to close my eyes, it just felt impossible. I would sit right in front of them with my eyes wide open,” Feron says. “But ever since I started using MedMa, I’ve been able to close my eyes and engage in practice. Sometimes, I lie down while meditating, with the mask over my head, and just close my eyes for a few hours.” 

Dr. Joyce is hoping to make MedMa available for meditators everywhere by April 1st, 2022 and hopes that the device can help everyone feel like they can enjoy the benefits of a restful meditation session. 

In a strange twist, a significant contingent from a control group of participants who were permitted to keep their eyes open during meditation sessions declared that they thought meditating with their eyes open was just fine and decided to organize to promote the practice. This group—the Soft and Gently Downward Gaze Coalition—is launching its own start-up to pilot SoftGoggles: meditation glasses that are simply eyeglass frames with no lenses. Their slogan: just because you see it doesn’t mean you have to keep thinking about it.

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