What Does it Mean When You See a White Light When You Close Your Eyes?


For many years I have seen flashes of different colored lights physically and when I meditate. When I meditate sometimes the golden / silver bright light will just come as a flash to me. Now when I close my eyes I can see like light moving around the corner of my eyes. What is this experience or what does seeing these lights mean?

—M Mitchell, UK


Dear Friend,

Because you state that seeing flashes of light has persisted both with eyes open and eyes closed and for several years, before I comment on its possible meditative aspects, I have to ask and suggest that you have your eyes checked. Flashes of light are actually a common phenomenon related to ailments of the physical eyes.

But assuming, for now, an organic cause is not applicable, it is also not unusual for a person, especially of course meditators, to see flashes of light owing to having a sensitive awareness of the subtle light of the astral body and astral realm of existence. Too numerous to attempt to catalog, on the one hand, on the other hand, I can say that the sensitivity to see such phenomenon carries with it no particular message, spiritually speaking.

But before I go further down that track with an explanation, let me refer you to Paramhansa Yogananda’s great spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi. In Chapter 13, The Sleepless Saint, Yogananda meets Ram Gopal Muzumdar: a highly advanced Kriya yogi. Yogananda was blessed in Ram Gopal’s presence to see with eyes open and closed “the spiritual radiations” which were attributed to a certain level of spiritual advancement and blessing. You might find it interesting to read that passage.

That being acknowledged, I question whether what you are experiencing is the same. Not only was Yogananda in the presence of a great yogi but he himself is an avatar, a world teacher and master of yoga. So one is always cautioned about making too sharp a comparison.

In my experience, sensitivity to astral perceptions (which can manifest as any and all of the five senses but on a subtle level) is innate to our very make-up. Just as some people are sensitive to colors, or artistic nuances, poetry, music, etc., so some are also able, like true psychics, to perceive certain things on a non-rational and non-sensory level: supra-sensory, that is. Not just light, but tastes, smell, sounds, and feeling!

Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras, lists such perceptions as valid “objects” for meditative concentration. The yogi develops supr-sensory perceptions as a natural part of the internalization of awareness away from the physical body and focused on the higher psychic centers in the brain.

Thus it is that fleeting appearances of astral perceptions do not in themselves suggest any particular interpretation. Like taking singing lessons and improving one’s voice, the power of astral sight (sound, etc) is refined by meditative concentration. There are some situations where their intrusion into daily activities (vs meditation) can become problematic but that is unusual.

Instead, what is recommended is simply to calmly accept their appearance in meditation without reacting emotionally or energetically. If practicing a particular meditation technique, it would be normal to be advised to not give the appearance of light(s) any special attention but to remain focused on the technique and the “bhav” (usually expressed as devotion) of meditation.

If one has finished the segment of meditation wherein techniques are practiced and is now sitting in the silence, in quiet calm contemplation, the appearance of astral light can more naturally be the focus of one’s meditative concentration and awareness. Then, one can relate to the light as a divine manifestation, a superconscious appearance of the Divine Light. Thus one can pray to the Light; one can offer oneself into the light; one can receive the light into oneself. All of these attitudes are recommended according to one’s own inclination and understanding. By remaining calm and focusing with devotion the Light might become steady; before it does, it will undoubtedly morph into different colors and shapes. As one becomes ever more deeply focused and uplifted, one can relate devotionally to the Light.

Thus it is that these subtle radiations change as we change; as we become more deeply and devotionally focused. They begin with fleeting and almost “nervous” appearances and can become the Great Light of God out of which a vision of one’s guru might appear! There’s no end to what is possible. But the yogi simply persists calmly in meditation, accepting what comes of its own, as from “above.” Steady, steady the yogi remains focused, a candle flame of calm concentration protected from the wind of thoughts, reactions, emotions and restlessness.

Okay? Blessings and joy to you!
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA