Squinting is an invaluable technique used by artists, and something we can apply in our own lives too. For artists, it’s simple to do: you just periodically look at your work with your eyes partially closed. Here is what a very fine artist, Robert Genn, has to say about the subject:
“Looking at work with half-closed eyes has several benefits. Simply put, squinting makes note of weak areas. Squinting tells you what’s wrong and what’s bad. Squinting lets you know where darkness or lightness might be added. Also, by drawing together the eyelids, you see the subject as more or less reduced to black and white. When work is viewed without the benefit of color, decisions can be more readily made. It seems that in standard easel-working vision, you ‘can’t see the forest for the trees.’”
Isn’t that one of the common mistakes we make in life, focusing on the trees instead of the forest? If we apply the squinting technique to our lives, it will help us extract ourselves from all the details and see our major energy patterns. Doing this as a regular habit can help keep our lives on course.
Even the position of the eyes is significant. Here is what Paramhansa Yogananda writes about the great yogi, Lahiri Mahasaya: “His intense joy of God-communion is slightly revealed in a somewhat enigmatic smile. His eyes, half open to denote a nominal direction on the outer world, are half closed also. Completely oblivious to the poor lures of the earth, he was fully awake at all times to the spiritual problems of seekers who approached for his bounty.”
How can we translate the physical squint of an artist into the mental and spiritual squint that would be so helpful in life? What is needed above all is to back off from involvement in the innumerable details and problems of daily living. Another way of describing a spiritual squint would be to look at the canvas of life through a mind that is half involved and half detached. See the broader goals of your incarnation: Are they poorly focused, or set off to the side? When our minds are too involved in problems or too focused on “the poor lures of the earth,” we can’t see the larger picture.
The best time for a spiritual squint is toward the end of a meditation, when our minds and hearts are already somewhat withdrawn. Relax your gaze up toward the point between the eyebrows and spend a few minutes considering the broad patterns of your life. Do they line up with your aspirations, or have you allowed your soul to get caught in a cobweb of little hopes, dreams, and worries?
Once you perceive the “weak areas and what’s wrong or bad” it is time to get to work. Paint over those parts that should be eliminated and start adding more light and color to those parts that will bring you true joy.
Swami Kriyananda said, “We are all works in progress. God isn’t finished with us yet.”
With a squint and a half smile,
Listen to Jyotish as he reads the blog, then expands on it, often adding special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (8:34):