What Does Visual Experience with Closed Eyes Mean?

Question

Hi there! Sometimes when my eyes are closed and I am in a deeper state of focus and concentration, I will see the light and tunnel but sometimes I will also see shadow symbols or figures. Is this anything of significance in meaning? Especially when I’m focusing on relaxation / sleep. Thanks!

—Amanda, USA

Answer

Levels of Consciousness for Inner Visual Experiences

Dear Amanda,

You say you especially have visual experiences with eyes closed and focusing on relaxation/sleep but this also happens when concentrating with eyes closed. You do not mention meditation practice. There are two levels of consciousness where we may have visual experience, the subconscious and the superconscious. A good indicator of the level from which the experience comes is the feeling associated with it.

Subconscious Visualizations

Our subconscious is the reservoir of our history, old reactions, old habits, emotionally charged past experience and our mind, when wandering aimlessly, often goes there. If we have visual experience associated with this level, we may have dream-like images that are vague, cloudy, or emotionally charged and not necessarily uplifting. Our normal dream state of sleep is a subconscious state.

Superconscious Visualizations

Our superconscious is that level of our consciousness that contacts the divine in some aspect. We most often access this level of consciousness in meditation but we may also go there when something in our experience awakens our superconscious awareness. When we access this level, we recognize that our experience is in some way exalted, spiritually uplifting and not like normal daily awareness or subconscious mental wandering.

Inner visual experience that is superconscious is accompanied by increased stillness, peace, joy or another spiritual quality. You will have to assess for yourself what consciousness is associated with the visual experiences you describe.

The Spiritual Eye Experience

One of your descriptions has elements of the spiritual eye, an important visual experience for spiritual aspirants so I thought you would like to know about this. The spiritual eye can be seen in deep meditation and is a doorway to cosmic consciousness. Swami Kriyananda, Ananda’s founder and a direct disciple of Yogananda, described the spiritual eye thus:

The spiritual eye is a reflection of the astral light in the medulla oblongata (located at the base of the brain and the back of the head). The Christ or Krishna center, where it resides at the point between the eyebrows, represents the positive pole of the medulla, which is the seat of ego-consciousness. When this light is beheld perfectly, it takes the form of a five-pointed star set in a field of deep blue or violet light, and circled by a shining ring of gold. In a state of ecstasy, the consciousness penetrates the spiritual eye and enters the inner realms. –Meditation for Starters, by Swami Kriyananda

When a person sees this spiritual eye, the next step is to mentally enter into it. As one enters it is experienced as a tunnel. So you can see that some of your visual experience definitely has a spiritual component to it. The important question to ask is, “What feeling is associated with the experience?”

Recommendations for Spiritual Development

If you have uplifted, expanded consciousness during your visual experience you might consider it as encouragement for you to begin a spiritual practice such as meditation. Even if you don’t, the fact that you sought out information on our website suggests you are guided to start a practice.

If you are interested, I recommend you see our meditation resources. You will find videos, writings, on-line lessons and personal support for your practice.

Many blessings to you in your spiritual explorations.

Nayaswami Mukti