Societal Issues Targeted:
- Promoting human connection and understanding
- Creating world peace through greater connection
“Everything I know about life and the universe is held inside of me. There is more, certainly, but I haven’t yet understood it, and so the entire universe I know is inside of me. When we look into the eyes of another, we are gazing into another’s entire universe.”
– Andy at Focallocal
This is a gathering where we invite people passing by to share a minute of eye contact and together, to explore human connection and understanding.
Looking in someone’s eyes reminds us of our sense of shared humanity, and all the superficial differences between us–race, age, gender, social status– disappear, reminding us that we are all on the same journey and we are equally dropped into these bodies, trying to understand our place in this beautiful and terrifying adventure of life we’ve been given. Our eyes show that inside we are far more alike than we can ever be different.
Several research studies on psychology suggest that eye contact brings forth positive effects in an individual’s cognitive processing. Scientists have postulated that eye contact initiates, via self-directed attention, a self-referential mode of information processing, i.e., a heightened processing of stimuli in relation with the self, and that this leads to the enhancement of self-awareness, memory effects, activation of pro-social behavior, and positive appraisals of others.
WHAT DO I NEED?
- A sign (see examples)
- Something to sit on (it can be two cushions, pillows, a yoga mat, or anything that can be sitted on)
- Relaxing music (optional)
- A 1 minute timer (phones are fine)
Wet Weather Plan:
- Bring an umbrella
- Cushions won’t be needed! Standing together under an umbrella equally works as well. 🙂
1. Make signs that invite someone walking by to sit with you and share 1 minute of eye contact
2. Bring something that a member of public passing-by could sit on. It can be picnic rugs, cushions, or a pillow!
3. Sit and wait calmly for members of the public to come and share a moment of eye contact with us. If someone looks interested, go ahead and invite them. Some people want to participate but are shy or nervous.
4. Set a timer to avoid any chance that someone might feel awkward, not knowing if and when they should stop.
5. Calmly look into the eyes of the other person in front of you. Don’t expect anything, just relax and see what comes.
- Use the opportunity to reflect internally upon yourself and whether people’s age, gender, and other determining factors would cause you to act a certain way around them. Should it?
- Consider the other person and reflect on what you can read about their character from their eyes.
- Imagine them as a young child or when they are elderly. The eyes will be the same.
- Reflect on humanity and life itself.
- Try to quiet your mind.
- Match their breathing.
- Imagine your heart filled with the light of love. Push that love energy out and start to feel good and at peace.
- Example signs
- Countdown photos (thanks to Linda Donagan from Kind Ireland)
- Background music
- How-to poster/guides
Legal Stuff (how it worked out for us)
If the event gets really large, you might get some attention from the police. In the UK, you can apply for a Temporary Events Notice (a T.E.N). But personally, I think the right for the public to gather in a public space and enjoy a positive activity is (and certainly should be) a protected human right. I have very rarely applied for one, and I’ve had a few discussions with the police in previous events. But after I explain that we are simply conducting a ‘gathering’ (not an ‘event’) of local people and holding a positive community event with no money being exchanged, the police have never made us stop. The worst you can expect is to be asked to move, which is really not too difficult.
Special thanks to our Australian friends, The Liberators International, for making this wonderful idea globally known.