A bizarre sight stopped passersby on rain-soaked Lincoln Road this past Saturday. Sitting cross-legged in a circle on the fake-grass island in the pedestrian mall, 40 people silently stared into each other's eyes.
The participants were joining a trend gaining steam in South Florida: "eye gazing," a sort of social experiment in which strangers stare at each other without talking for minutes to seek a deeper emotional bond.
“To me, eye gazing is such a powerful practice that, once engaged in, it invites us to reconnect with the truth of who we truly are. It allows us to see the innate essence of the person who is before us,” Piedra says. “Eye gazing has been one of the ways in which I joyfully connect to my heart and the heart of another.”
The Miami movement began when Piedra recently returned here from California. She couldn’t help but notice the lack of human connection around her. She had studied spiritual psychology in Santa Monica, where she would eye-gaze with other students as a class exercise to bond.
Eye gazing has been around for
When Piedra heard about the worldwide eye-gazing event, she quickly registered the Magic City. With the help of some volunteers and fliers, more than 350 people showed up to Lincoln Road October 15. She was surprised by how many attended. Some people held hands while they stared at each other. Others smiled. At the
“My most memorable memory was seeing an
Basically, eye gazing means consciously putting down the smartphones to consciously stare at another person and have that person stare back. According to Piedra, it’s about being present. While it can be nerve-racking at first, once the initial awkwardness subsides, it feels like meditating in sync. Piedra recommends that everyone should try eye gazing at least once.
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“I believe we are all, in some ways, yearning and longing for these connections, so come and allow yourself to be vulnerable,” she says. “I would share that it is natural to be nervous, perhaps some may also be skeptical at times, and that is
Piedra is organizing more eye-gazing events across South Florida. She held a second event this past Saturday that thousands RSVP'ed to on
“We were lovingly challenged by quite the stormy and rainy day, and although we were hoping to welcome close to 2,000 participants, due to the weather, there were close to about 40 people,” Piedra says. “
Piedra is planning a third event in Fort Lauderdale November 21. It’s free to attend, and nothing is required to participate.