Gwyneth Paltrow led me to meditate with eyes open. Here's what happened.

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I stare into Gwyneth Paltrow's eyes as she tells me to take a deep breath.

The actress says this is her favorite way to start all her meditations. I'm not someone who meditates regularly, so I follow it. Then, as she instructed, I close my eyes and take another breath.

“Open your eyes and notice all the things in your surroundings,” she says. I do. “Now, pay attention to the empty space around those objects. Notice how this space holds things and allows everything to exist within it. Notice the space far away from you and the space immediately surrounding you, the space that holds you.”

I'm trying to follow up. I look at my computer screen, where Paltrow appears on Zoom, leading me and others in an exclusive three-minute meditation session as part of an announcement of her partnership with the meditation app. Space moments. Starting Wednesday, users can access guided meditations like the one led by the actress on the app.

I stare at the rest of the things on my desk. I see sticky notes, a stapler, a pen jar – was the knife under your desktop screen the whole time?

Paltrow takes slow, deliberate pauses between each of her sentences. Each pause feels like a lifetime, so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

“Now, let your awareness fully embrace you to feel the space everywhere,” she says. “And as you become aware of this all-encompassing, omnipresent space that allows everything in your outer world to exist, notice if you become aware of a similar sense of space within you as well, the space that allows everything in your inner world to be the space of your own awareness. Don't try to catch it. Just be there with her, in that moment of space.”

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Or what? you lost me. The only space I feel is in my stomach, where I crave coffee. Clearly, I still have a long way to go before I achieve Paltrow-level serenity. Goop CEO's calm, unobtrusive demeanor has become almost as much a signature of her brand as her company Goop's exotic (and pricey) wellness products.

Unfortunately, I'm not Paltrow. I get antsy easily. I always run through to-do lists in my mind. If left without stimulation for several minutes, I become anxious. Overthinking is my signature.

But, according to Paltrow, as well as Moments of Space founder Kim Little, who joined her for this webinar, this is the thing people like me need: meditating with our eyes open. They say even a little can go a long way.

“My meditation teacher said to me when I was learning, ‘Even in a shallow dive, you get wet,'” Paltrow says. “So what always sticks with me is that it's worth doing. It's worth sitting down. It doesn't have to be monk-level, two-hour-long, or inspired. It's just sitting down and trying to do it. “We will get benefits from it.”

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Why meditate with open eyes?

When most people think of meditation, they likely imagine people sitting quietly on mats, with their legs crossed and their eyes closed.

Although this is one way to do it, it is not the only way. Murray Heidari, meditation expert and founder of experimental music company MindTravelForms of meditation that involve keeping your eyes open have been around as long as meditation itself, he says.

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The benefits of meditating with your eyes open include increased awareness of yourself in relation to your surroundings, Haidari says, adding that this creates a feeling of connection with the environment that is not easily accessible through other forms of meditation.

“You are not isolated with your eyes closed in an inner world,” he says. “You're actually engaging and interacting with the world around you, and then you have to really play into how your consciousness arises.”

It also makes meditation less difficult for beginners like me, who worry about being too easily distracted to meditate “properly.”

Paltrow — an Oscar-winning actress, mother, and CEO — calls open-eyes meditation a “game-changer” in her busy life, allowing her to find “oneness” amidst the chaos.

“Every day, I can just steal a few minutes here and there,” she says. “I can be in my office. I can walk down the hall. I can be on Zoom — no offense — and I can meditate. I find that really deepens the results of what meditation does.”

How to meditate: Start a daily mindfulness practice that makes you feel zen

Are you over like Gwyneth Paltrow?

By the end of Paltrow's three-minute meditation sample, I can't say I found solitude — but I felt calm. I felt my heart rate slower and my breathing deeper. I felt relaxed and energized at the same time.

Of course, all of this could only be in my head. But hey, if the placebo effect makes me feel better, what's the problem with that? For my first time, I'll take it.

Paltrow says regular meditation can produce profound results. She learned to meditate 12 years ago, and it has been her morning ritual for the past four years. She says it helped her see life in a different way.

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“This is all kind of an illusion,” Paltrow says, “and we get caught up in atoms and molecules and materialism.” “When I can let go of that in meditation, it brings me a lot of comfort and happiness, I think, because I feel so connected to something bigger than myself and my own thoughts and my own ego.”

Maybe meditation with open eyes has not given me this experience yet. But who knows? If you stick with it, maybe one day you will. At least because of Paltrow, my eyes are now open to that possibility.

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