Category Archives: Technique

Eyes On

So when I’m not cooking and baking, or doing yoga, I work as a psychotherapist.  The type of treatment I provide is mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy; specifically Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

I recently provided a training on cross-cultural supervision and for the first time I had participants do an exercise called, Eyes On.  I should back up for a second.  The central theme of that session was learning to accept and willingly have discomfort vs. running away, which we easily and quickly do, as humans.  Once we are accepting of discomfort rather than working at getting rid of it, or away from it, we are free to choose to respond in a way that aligns with our values.  So the Eyes On exercise is a way of placing ourselves in a situation that is typically discomforting and to stay there with it and with your partner.  The instructions are simple: after being partnered, you sit, knees to knees, and just look into the other person’s eyes. You are told to “just notice your own mind and what it is doing. Let go of what your mind is doing, and see if you can just be present with this other human being across from you for a few minutes.”

Given that I had never done this exercise before, and it scared the willies out of me, I fully planned, and expected that I would just watch and lead everyone through the exercise.  But as luck would have it, we had an uneven number and thus the decision was made.  I was doing it.  In the end, it was painful but not as terrible as I had expected.

This morning, a colleague on an ACT list serve I’m on posted this video.  It’s from this website, which posted the following commentary, helpful to understanding the video:

Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.

At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.”