Question:

Hi Andy,

I’ve completed Take10 and I have a couple of questions having to do with blindness. I lost my eyesight about five years ago. I believe obviously that that is not an impediment to meditation and mindfulness, but do you have any tips for approaching or practicing meditation as a blind person? The meditations always start with having your eyes open while you softly gaze at your surroundings and then closing them after your initial deep breaths. Clearly this should not be a big deal but I wonder if you’ve come across this type of question from other blind people.

I also have an ongoing sleep problem called Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder, which I recently discovered affects many blind people. I heard your podcast on sleep, but have not had much success. Any suggestions?

Andy’s answer:

Hi, great to hear you’ve enjoyed Take10 and I trust you’ll continue to enjoy the Headspace Journey. Yeah, this question has come up a few times now. In short, blindness needn’t be viewed as an obstacle to meditation.

Your assumption was quite right and there is no need for you to follow the first part of the exercise. That said, instead of the soft gaze, I’d recommend that you imagine as far as you can in every direction. So it’s as if you were sitting in the middle of the universe (in space, if you will) with endless space all around you in every direction. Simply by bringing that image to mind, you create a very similar feeling as the soft gaze.

In terms of the sleep issue, I’m familiar with Non-24 and know of several people who have experienced it. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about it to give any specific advice and I can’t seem to find any mindfulness research specific to this condition, although it’s only a matter of time before it’s carried out, I’m sure. The only thing I would suggest trying is finding a stronger ritual around sleep–preparing in the same way, creating a routine with the time you go to bed and wake up, taking a warm shower or bath about 30 minutes before sleep, not eating immediately before bed and that kind of thing. All of these will help promote undisturbed, restful sleep. It’s also worth sticking with the sleep podcast, as it can sometimes take a little while for it to become effective.

Please let us know how you get on.

Warm wishes,

Andy