When Shakespeare said "the eyes are the windows to your soul", he was probably inspired by the ancient art of soul gazing. Otherwise known as tantric eye gazing, it's the first step into an objectively healthier relationship with intimacy and pleasure. If you practice eye gazing enough times, you can actually start to see and feel glimpses of your partner's soul (speaking from experience), and sex can become an otherworldly, spiritual journey. Fancy trying it out? We spoke to experts in the tantric arts about how the super-easy practice of soul gazing can help us access the nourishing beauty of making love.
What Is Soul Gazing?
The practice of tantra (meaning "to weave" or "loop" in Sanskrit) emerged in the first millennium (within the years 1-1000 AD) and is credited with the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism in India. Tantra is a tradition that includes meditative practices meant to centre us in the present moment and reconnect us with our bodies. This includes yoga, meditation, breath work, and mantras, but it can also be used to improve our experience with sensuality, intimacy, pleasure, and relationships (including friendships). Soul gazing is a first step into the practice of tantra and involves being able to look into another person's eyes without feeling too awkward and looking away. "Even though it can be confronting, eye gazing helps boost our confidence, improves self-esteem, and develops self-awareness," Aysha Bell, transformational healer, yoga teacher, and tantra coach with over 10 years of experience, tells POPSUGAR. "It's an opportunity to become present and experience the true essence of another."
The Benefits of Soul Gazing
"Eye gazing can help you connect with someone beyond words."
When we no longer feel awkward, we start to introduce trust, vulnerability, and patience into our sexual journey. When we are fully comfortable being vulnerable with our partner (and ourselves), we become fully open to experience our own pleasure. We become better at listening to what our body wants, reading our partner's body without judgment or expectation, and communicating our needs from a place of complete love and acceptance. Sounds great, doesn't it? Certified sexologist Madalaine Munro tells POPSUGAR that through the gazing, "'self-other merging' can take place, which can create connection and a feeling of 'oneness' between us and another." Eye gazing can help you connect with someone beyond words and sit with your own emotions as a meditative practice. You are encouraged to move away from goal-oriented intimacy and embrace experience-orientated intimacy. Munro also shares that "with long-term partners, we can fall into the same routines for intimacy and pleasure, so soul gazing can support knowing your partner in a different way and cultivate a new form of intimacy between you."
Setting the Mood For Soul Gazing
Soul gazing begins by creating a space that is free from distractions. Munro says that "while the practice itself may not be that long, perhaps five minutes, time to prepare beforehand and time after to integrate what came up are key aspects of soul gazing." Put the phones away, and prepare your environment with low lighting from a candle. You can also clear the energy of the space with a smudge stick or palo santo. "There is no talking while soul gazing," Munro says, and "some people may incorporate touch, such as placing the hands together, with the palms down, touching the opposite hand of the other, or placing your hands onto each other's hearts". Once you're all set up, take a few minutes to ground yourselves and calm your energies by doing a guided meditation or synchronising your breathing. "It may be helpful to take the pressure off by welcoming all the emotions that may arise," Munro adds. "Yes, it may feel awkward or clunky at first; perhaps you laugh or difficult emotions come up. Welcome all that may arise with compassion." Bell also recommends trying some sensual foods beforehand, like pomegranates, cacao, pistachio nuts, and saffron.
How to Start Soul Gazing
- Sit in a comfortable position, and face your partner. "You can hold hands or place a hand on each other's hearts. Touching each other is good," Bell says.
- Set a timer for your desired amount of time, starting with one to five minutes and increasing the time with each practice.
- Look into your partner's eyes. Start with "the left eye of the other person, as spiritually this represents the receptive side, and it can minimise distraction from darting between eyes," Munro says.
- Have a soft gaze. You don't have to look directly into your partner's eyes, and it's OK if your vision comes in and out of focus.
- Breathe deeply, and allow yourself to blink.
- Break your gaze when the timer goes off, but take some time to debrief. "Ask your partner how they feel after the experience," suggests Kelly Gordon, creative director at Hot Octopuss and host of the podcast "Pleasure Rebels." "If they felt like they learnt anything, and whether they'd like to do it again or regularly. Communicating thoughts and feelings generally helps to improve intimacy, too! It also reduces anxiety as you will always know where you stand."