Your eyes are like a window for your body. When they are good, you have all the light you need. But when your eyes are bad, everything is dark. If the light inside you is dark, you surely are in the dark. –Luke 11.34-36
There are so many sayings describing the state of people’s eyes. Bright eyes. Kind eyes. Dead eyes. For centuries, writers and poets have observed the unspoken world detected when you look into someone’s eyes – sadness, admiration, gratefulness, genuine concern, warmth or coldness.
I’m naturally attuned to eyes, and believe they are the windows to the mind and soul. I believe everyone has the ability to sense the emotional state of someone through their eyes. When we feel content and generally peaceful, our eyes have a sparkle. When we’re in pain, hurting, or sad, the sparkle in our eyes is replaced with a dull, darker hue. You can see dissociation; you look into someone’s eyes and the person is not present, but drifted off into their own state of worry or overwhelm.
How do we know so much looking into eyes? They are designed to be expressive, and help us communicate with one another. We’re not the only species that does this, many kinds of animals also use their eyes to communicate how they feel, what they need, or what their intention is.
What does Luke mean when he says “if the light inside you is dark, you are surely in the dark”? The light signifies every uplifting emotion or sensation that illuminates your eyes with that sparkle – joy, love, happiness, fulfillment, peace, gratitude, trust, doing good for yourself and others. The dark is the opposite – it’s suffering, sadness, depression, pain, that loop of sabotaging negative thoughts, a dark place in your mind. When you are in the dark, you feel emotionally and spiritually disconnected, overly anxious, angry or fearful, or blanketed in despair.
Bringing awareness to the emotions settled in the eyes will help you see when light is needed.
Look in the mirror, or take an honest, unfiltered selfie, and observe your eyes. Do you see light? Or do they appear dull? Do you see love, or do you see pain and fear being held inside? You can try this experiment: meditate for 5 minutes then look into your eyes again. Do you see a change? Do they look softer, brighter? When your eyes appear to have lost their spark, what you need most is compassion and a healthy outlet for stress. It’s amazing how quickly the light can beam back when we are able to tap into that feeling of joy again.
Sometimes our friends and loved ones will pretend everything is fine because they don’t want to burden us with their problems. Take a moment to really look into their eyes. If not in person, check out their latest social media post. What do their eyes tell you? Are they truly feeling okay, or are they feeling burdened by something? Paying attention to what their eyes are emitting can help you know when to reach out and offer support. I wouldn’t recommend saying, “Hey your eyes look pretty dark and depressed today”! You can try something like, “I’m just checking in to see how you’re doing today. Are you up for a chat? Is there anything I can do for you? Just want you to know I love you and am here for you.”
As people get older, sometimes the light in their eyes will appear permanently dimmed. Especially in the elderly population. By the time people reach their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, they’ve experienced a lot of life, and with that comes a lot of change, stress and grief. If a spouse loses their partner of 50 years, for example, some of their light may be dulled by the pain of grief. (We don’t get over some things in life, we learn to adjust and live with the changes.) Whatever we hold in our hearts can often be seen in our eyes. If we hold grief for our loved one, you may see it linger as sadness in the eyes. This is normal. We’re not here to attain perfect light in our eyes at all times, we are human.
Through our human eyes, God has given us a way to communicate more effectively with one another, deepen our self-awareness, and recognize when more self-care is needed. Our eyes are outposts for our thoughts and emotions, and will alert us when we’re feeling good, or bad. Through our eyes, our soul is asking us to pay attention to how we’re feeling, to spend time nurturing, rejuvenating and appreciating ourselves.
Now more than ever, with technology and fast-paced cultures creating more emotional detachment from one another, with so many people’s eyes glued to their screens instead of witnessing humanity around them, a simple observation of someone eyes followed by a genuine compliment or offer of support can be a rare act of kindness. Recognition, to be truly seen, is a powerful thing.