Staring Into Someone’s Eyes For 10 Minutes Can Alter Your Consciousness
Written by: Kat Gal
Looking into your eyes is the new high.
This should be a new t-shirt slogan. And it’s actually true.
Just think about the first time you met your love, looking into his or her eyes. Wasn’t it just magical? Or how about those staring contests you played as a child? They were surely fun experiences.
According to research, if you are staring intensely into someone’s eyes for a prolonged period of time, you may enter into an altered state of consciousness.
A few years ago, Giovanni Caputo from the University of Urbino, Italy conducted a study with 50 volunteers. The volunteers had to gaze into their own reflections in a mirror for 10 minutes. In less than one minute, they started experiencing something they described as ‘trippy.’ Their faces began to change into animals, monsters and even deceased family members.
Things got even more interesting when they swapped the mirror with another person.
For another study, Caputo paired up 40 young adults, asking them to stand 1 meter apart. Half of the pairs sat back-to-back staring at the wall, while the other half were sitting facing each other and gazing at each other’s neutral expressions. Then after 10 minutes, they all filled in a questionnaire about their experience.
The results were fascinating. The participants facing each other described higher levels of color intensity than controls. Even noises seemed louder than they should be. They said time seemed to slow down. They felt spaced out. 90% of them reported that their partner’s face appeared deformed and 75% of them even saw monstrous beings, whereas 15% of them recognized traits of their relatives in their partner.
Caputo explains that these symptoms of dissociation indicate a departure from one’s connection with reality. He says these hallucination-like experiences are due to the lack of sensory stimulation. This is, however, just a theory.
There is another possible explanation out there.
When you stare at a central point for a prolonged period of time, features in the periphery will begin to gradually disappear. This is known as Troxler fading. This may be another explanation for why facial features seem to vanish during eye-gazing, rather than experiencing a ‘high.’ If visual information is missing, your brain will try to fill out the gaps from memory.
Regardless of the explanations currently out there, the exact answers are still not clear. Caputo is the first to admit that there is a lot to learn about these phenomena. Further research is needed to learn about these strange hallucinations.
I can tell you one thing, though – not being a scientist, I can’t explain it, but from experience, I know that the sensation is real.
I have participated in various workshops where I was paired up with another participant and assigned to stare into each other’s eyes for 3-5 minutes, or even longer.
After a while, facial features became blurry, yet the faces became more familiar, my senses became sharper and I also felt an over-pouring of warmth and love. I explained my experience by saying that the eyes are windows to our soul, but these studies make my experiences more real with more scientific backup, whether they’re yet explainable or not.
Have you ever had such experience? I would love to hear about it. Please feel free to share in the comments below.
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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