She suggests a minimum of one hour of sustained gaze (Right! Errata, 1 min?)

“Try not to blink,” says the performance artist Marina Abramovic. “The more you blink, the more you think.” In the spring of 2010, Abramovic spent over 700 hours looking into the eyes of more than 1,500 visitors to the Museum of Modern Art. Many wept openly. Sometimes Abramovic cried, too. To really experience the power of eye contact, she suggests a minimum of one hour of sustained gaze.

Place two chairs three and a half feet apart, and sit facing someone. Do not talk or touch. Focus your eyes between that person’s brows, so that you can see both pupils simultaneously. Don’t look away. Eye contact elicits avoidance behavior in many species, but humans are exquisitely attuned to it. Even newborns will look longer at people staring straight at them than they will at those with averted eyes…

To really see — and feel connected to — someone, you need to be still in mind and body. Start by slowing your breath until it is “almost unnoticeable,” Abramovic says. You’ll undergo all manner of discomfort during your encounter, including sore muscles, dry eyes and niggling thoughts. Don’t dwell on them.

Abramovic thinks a scarcity of eye contact is crippling modern culture. While we need to look at our loved ones more, she says that gazing into the eyes of strangers is potentially more transformative, what she calls “one of the most powerful experiences you can have.”…

Prepare for a rush of emotion. Abramovic felt surges of profound tenderness during the months she spent locking eyes with anyone who wanted to sit across from her. “I felt their loneliness and pain,” she says. “My heart was bursting.”

~ Malia Wollan, from How to Make Soulful Eye Contact (NY Times, April 28, 2017)


Notes:

Comments

  1. I love this. How about using the technique to do a performance appraisal at work? One hour of silence….

    I wonder why she says she felt others’ loneliness and pain. Why not their joy or love?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such incredible power in a gaze–one can convey so many emotions without uttering a word. I also find this post especially compelling given how much time we all spend these days staring into a screen, which gives nothing back.

    After reading this, had to go back and watch the video with Marina and Uley–watching their silent exchange wallops me every time….

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It is easier to miss someone’s pain and loneliness than it is to miss their love and joy.

    I need to make eye contact. To lock eyes even if it’s only for few seconds, even if it’s with the most strange of strangers. I feel we humans owe it to each other. There is something that cannot be put in words that takes place. Some exchange of some code, or energy.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. powerful. i remember when she did this with her former lover.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Here’s looking at you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love this … because we get to experience being with an other person in a deep way, and in doing so connect to ourselves. When I try to do this I always notice getting edgy and tense. To connect like this one has to be relaxed and open. Completely present.
    Not as easy as it looks 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  7. IT brings back memories for me of visiting a sister in New York City. From Texas I was accustomed to looking at people directly whether I knew them or not, with a smile if they were looking at me. It was a form of greeting, a hello, isn’t it a beautiful day sort of thing. When I walked down a street with my sister she noticed and was horrified. “No one looks at anyone here”, she said. If you do, you are more likely to get into trouble. Say you smiled at a woman, she could turn on you and demand to know “why are you looking at me? You keep your eyes on your own business!” I was appalled that so many people could be so distant to each other. I do agree that it has contributed to not even knowing your neighbor, which is I think even sadder that the NYC situation. We are no longer a loving people who are interested in people unless we know them and for lots I have personally known the criteria for being friends was “what can you do for me?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • All of what you say exists in NYC, but not universally. And agree It is sad…

      Like

      • Oh I’m sure you are correct. Making things a commonality is a huge mistake and I never was able to visit any other part of NY. I sure there are many wonderful people there. Sometimes I see the attitude in Colorado where I live and the problem is that people follow their peers so ,often, location is a problem instead of a benefit. Thanks for your comment.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. This technique, David, can be used by one alone. By looking into a mirror at oneself (for as long as possible) it is quite amazing the energies that can be reached! We seem to tap into something quite primal and authentic… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I’m sure, more frightening than looking at another human. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You got it! All the unresolved energies surface. However, David, it’s a great way to get in contact with those things we’ve hidden… from ourselves. I did this quite a few times and never failed to end up crying my little eyes out; and coming to be more understanding, loving, and more gentle with myself…

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Nat Roberts says:

    David, invest a weekend in yourself…http://www.klemmer.com/personal-mastery. It’s time well spent. The above technique is used in one session, only for a few minutes but still enough time to convey volumes. It’s a life changing experience!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Nat. Did you go?

      Like

    • Life Changing, I bet with this commitment:

      Once you have completed this course, you will have the tools to:

      Increase your income.
      Grow your client base.
      Develop healthy working relationships.
      Dramatically expand your wealth consciousness.
      Decrease procrastination.
      Produce results regardless of the circumstances.
      Increased willingness to offer and receive feedback between peers, colleagues, mentors and managers.
      Develop a new idea of ‘win-win’ thinking.
      Be more responsible for your own success instead of being a victim to circumstances.
      Heighten your state of activity.
      Increase your level of love and compassion for yourself and others.

      Like

  10. I love all of this…but I could never do it, and that is soooo unfortunate. I couldn’t even do those really serious Lamaze classes when I was pregnant with my first child because I would start giggling which would turn into uncontrollable laughter…and then everyone would be mad at me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This really got me thinking David. Reblogging it if that’s ok. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on Real Learning, for a Change and commented:
    I am reblogging an article from David Kanigan’s excellent Live and Learn because it stirred my soul. It’s the first time I have reblogged like this, so hope it works ok.

    It got me thinking about how this is all part of the depressing degradation in our relationship building skills. We find it harder and harder to give each other real eye contact.

    Let me give a few examples:

    I deliver a lot of training using video conferencing tools such as WebEx. It is unusual to see people actually turn on their camera so they can so each other. Is this because they are naked from the waist down (the usual excuse given), or is it a symptom of a deeper malaise?

    Take a look at people in restaurants eating a meal together. How often are they giving each other unbroken eye contact?

    I love the idea of Marina’s exercise. Terrifying to do, no doubt, but so powerful. Think how you could use this at work. I think the time has come for the silent performance review. Now that WOULD be daunting!

    Have a read and see what you think. How about planning some proper eye contact with someone important? As some of David’s readers have suggested, maybe that person is you?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Watching people before him – searching her face for a response, some questioning her composure, it seemed. When he came in – he knew she was there, but she didn’t know he was. Interesting to see surprise, joy, love and lost love all on her face, wasn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

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