I started doing an exercise to soften my eyes a week ago, and well this brought some changes in no time. Lets first understand what I am talking about.
We have two extreme ways in which we use our eyes. Intense focus on a nearby object. Eye muscles tense up, and your field of view is narrowed down to a laser focus. This is a very predatory view of the world. Something like how cats or owls see the world, when they are ready to pounce on a prey or ready to fight or flee. The other extreme. Eye muscles relax. Your peripheral vision becomes enhanced. You can see a lot more without focusing on anything in particular. The dreamy look in the picture.
In some martial arts practices like Aikido, and well horse riding, it is recommended to use a soft focus. More peripheral vision increases outside awareness, and reduces mental chatter. Think of the last time you had laser focus, tunnel-vision — showing up for an interview, or showing up at a social event feeling awkward. Your mental chatter was in full flow. So much that outside world became a squeak and the volume of your thoughts were loud. You felt uneasy. Anything in the field of view could wreck your balance. You felt like the outside world does not get you.
Now think of another time. Relaxed morning. On a vacation. No pressure. A beach or a mountain or a country side. Your field of view was fluid. Mental chatter. Nah, it was just appreciation for what was around you. No judgments. People were friendly. Life was easy.
Soft eyes helps you relax into the environment without taking in a depressant like alcohol. If you have been used to life with hard eyes (as most of us are these days), you will feel dreamy when you practice soft eyes. I recommend practicing soft eyes for a couple of minutes just after you wake up or just before going to bed. With some practice, however, you will notice life becoming easier in front of your eyes.
I have been at it for 4 days, and even on top of my regular meditation, this feels like a noticeable calming change. Less thoughts means easier socializing, easier anything.