Eye Contact is one of the critical first moments of human experience. The eyes of a newborn are searching, as soon as they open. And, once nursing has begun, the eye contact between mother and child sets up a bond that, along with touch and sound, provides the initial dose of loving assurance to the baby.
Fast forward through life and think of the many times eye contact supports, encourages, comforts, and sustains us, in so many different contexts: from first steps to first attempts to read or write, to new relationships, athletic endeavors, stage performances, romantic encounters, or moments of extreme need.
OK, what is the point?
At the meditation retreats I attend there is an understanding that eye contact, for the duration of the retreat, is optional. Meeting the eye of a stranger, which consciously or unconsciously involves looking for a response, might well interrupt that person's concentration; their effort to not attach to anything, including eye connection with a fellow retreatant, trumps the basic human need to acknowledge. A meditation retreat is not about connecting with other people, but rather connecting more deeply with the realities of your self.
Mary and I were riding on some long bike paths recently and noticed a mostly universal pattern of folk greeting one another with some sort of eye contact as they passed in opposite directions. There were those who chose not so to do, but they were the exception.
A city is another thing. Don't make eye contact with anyone. Ever.
That's why I could never live in a city (and why I mostly don't like cities).
I have found myself in a sticky situation...won't go into details. It is a stickiness I am partly responsible for. Right now there is silence on the other end of the phone. What it feels like, I realize, is a loss of eye contact. And, that does not feel good.
Here is my thought for the day. If not having eye contact at a mindfulness meditation retreat does not kill me, but is in some ways OK, then not having "eye contact" in this certain sticky situation might not actually kill me, and may be OK as things sort out.
A few more thoughts. This insight regarding eye contact speaks to the personality that ever wishes to "fix" things, and the personality that tends to feel shame.
The fixer is trying to manually reset the assurance bond of eye contact. The person dealing with shame reckons that there is something intrinsically wrong with them—causing the eye disconnect.
All of this may seem obvious, yet it is a major revelation to me.
Mostly content, for now.