Michael Ellsberg on The Power of Eye Contact in Business, Love and Life
Susan Bratton

Episode 148 - Michael Ellsberg on The Power of Eye Contact in Business, Love and Life

Michael Ellsberg shares his story of the shift to enlightenment about the power of eye contact at a networking party.

He describes Eye Gazing parties and why they are so hot, intimate and connective.

We cover ways to enhance your love life, your sales success and your public speaking using specific eye contact strategies including "relational presence," "Touch Turn Talk," and the value of starting with silent audience connection.

We then segue to "eye intimidation," or what I like to laughingly call, "the mother death stare." You can experience the raw power of this dominating strategy by watching Mixed Martial Arts staredowns on YouTube.

Then we get into LOVE - "eye contact and intimacy are involved in the dance of co-causality." Michael shares the value of doing eye gazing with your lover and how to ignite the "loop of awareness." And we discover how eye contact can help us dissolve into ecstatic states where you let of of ego and judgment and reconnect with your own humanity.

The show ends with how you can create an eye gazing "experiment" with your lover tonight. Give it a try!

More about Michael: Q: What is your plan for yourself 10 years from now? What is your life purpose? (I can answer these both the same way)

A: I'm incredibly passionate about writing books. I don't know why I'm drawn to books in particular, over say, blog posts or YouTube videos or DVDs. I've been a passionate reader (of mostly non-fiction) since fifteen, and there's just something magical about non-fiction books for me.

My plan/goal is to write a book a year for as long as I can keep chugging. I wrote this last book in 8 months so I know I can do it. I'm already on-track to keep going, as I just got a deal for my next book "Self-Educated Billionaires: Lessons From the World's Most Successful People", which is going to be published by Penguin/Portfolio--and I've started writing it!

I feel I was put here on earth to do two things: love my fiancée Jena, and write books that change people's hearts and minds

Q: What is the most outrageous thing you've ever done?

A: Tell a woman, on our second date, that I was falling in love with her, and commit to moving across the country to be with her. 2 blissful years later, we're engaged, and about to be married in July!

Q: What dark or traumatic event has actually had a beneficial impact on your life?

A: I know it's a cliche to say that "cancer is one of the best things that ever happened to me," but I can unequivocally say that my experience getting diagnosed and treated for testicular cancer (during the time I was writing the book) transformed me in a positive way. If it didn't come back (knock on major wood) I'd say without a doubt it was one of the best things that happened to me. It woke me up, made me see how much of my life I was sleepwalking through, made me focus on what I really want to accomplish and give to the world in the short time I'm here.

Q: What are the 3 actions you've taken in the last three years that have had the most positive effect on your bank account?


--Unequivocally, learning sales. Specifically, reading "SPIN Selling" by Neil Rackham. That book doubled my monthly income almost overnight after reading it!
--Finding the right business mentor. If you want to accomplish something in life, find someone who's already done it and soak up all their knowledge. My relationship and study with my business mentor Bryan Franklin has transformed my financial/business life.
--Connecting with great people. I like the word "connecting" more than "networking" as it feels/sounds less self-interested. Real networking is not about self-interest, it's about giving. But I've also found that what I give comes back hundreds of times over. Finding amazing people and giving all you can to them is the best "investment" you can make as it will come back so many times over.

Q: What travel experience changed your life?

A: Traveling to Cuba when I was 22, right after college. My 1 month in Cuba changed my life more than any other travel I've ever experienced. People have so many hardships and struggles on that island, yet they have developed this incredible ability to escape from their troubles and elevate themselves through dance and music. In my one month there, I met more people who seemed fundamentally happy than I normally meet in a year in NYC, even though they have it way harder than most people in NYC do. Music and dance is a huge part of that--the passion, the joy, the community, the creative flame they experience regularly through their music and dance keeps a spark going alive through the cultural soul, which I will never forget, and which I still can feel in my veins every day 10 years later.



Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton, and on today’s show you’re going to get to meet Michael Ellsberg. Michael’s the author of a new book that I absolutely fell in love with and I wanted you to know about it. 

It’s called The Power of Eye Contact: Your Secret For Success in Business, Love and Life. 

It’s a great title. I’ll take it. I’ll take success in business, love and life all for a little eye contact. 

I wish it wasn’t a podcast and I could see you today, but we’re going to talk about seeing and being seen. And Michael is interestingly enough the fiancé of one of Personal Life Media’s experts. He is getting married very soon to the beautiful Jenna la Flamme who’s the creator of one of our products called Fast Weight Loss For a Flat Belly. It’s a program that uses weight loss techniques of the pleasure lover so you can whittle your waist and flatten your belly without suffering. That’s a good thing. Check it out if you’re craving a weight loss program made for women who hate brutal exercise and starvation programs and want to lose weight in a more pleasurable way. I think it’s a really great strategy and she’s very successful. And of course, promo code ‘dishy’ keeps $100 dollars in the pocket of your new skinny jeans. 

So Michael and Jenna live in New York City and that’s where Michael got his start, creating eye gazing parties. He fell in love with the eyes. I love eye gazing parties so much that I have also co-created another information product with a lovely beauty out here in San Francisco named Jamie Love. It’s coming out soon and it’s called Intimate Party Ideas. It has three games, including eye gazing, and will instantly vault you to being one of the best party throwers in your social circle. So if you think it’d be fun after you hear the amazing power of eye contact on this show and you’d like to throw a sexy intimate party that’s the buzz of your social circle, you can sign up now at intimatepartyideas.com to be notified when it launches. 

It was the powerful outcomes of those eye gazing parties that insighted Michael to write his book, The Power of Eye Contact. He has also put together three free personally autographed copies of the book for you, my dear DishyMix listeners. You can go to dishymixfan.com or just find DishyMix, all one word, in Facebook and post your desire for a copy of Michael’s book. He and I will choose three of you as lucky recipients and Michael will personally autograph a copy and mail it to you. 

So lets get him on the show now to learn all about this really powerful very easy wonderful way that you can change your life today to have more success, more intimacy, more repertoire, more connection, all that stuff that you know I love. So lets get him on the show. Welcome Michael.

Michael Ellsberg: Hey Susan, it is great to be here. I am so happy and honored and privileged to be sharing with your audience and community, and I can’t wait for this call.

Susan Bratton: It’s awesome. Michael, so I really liked in The Power of Eye Contact the story that you talked about pretty early in the book where you talked about the shift to your enlightenment about the power of eye contact and networking. You were at an event and you just had kind of this cataclysmic thing happen to you. Tell us that story.

Michael Ellsberg: Oh thank you, it’s a great story. I was actually at a internet marketing event put on by Evan Pagan who I’m sure a lot of folks listening know about. And there are so many amazing people in the room when Evan puts on those events that I was wanting to meet all of them, and I found myself, maybe the listeners have had this experience where you get in a kind of state of, you know, “Who can I meet? Where are they? Which person is most important? Whose card can I get?” And I noticed myself getting really worked up in this kind of needy grabby state of just wanting to get a lot of things. And I noticed I wasn’t having any luck meeting anyone. I was all alone and I felt like I had this big sign over my head that said “I am need and grabby. Stay away.” And I was so discouraged that I was almost about to leave the event, and just as I was about to leave I heard this voice in my head telling myself “Just stop. Stop, get out of this state. Lets flip the script here.” And I started, this voice said “Instead of asking what can you get from all these people, why don’t you start asking what can you give.” And in that moment I decided just to try it, to walk around the room and each person I saw I would think “What can I give this person?” I would just ask myself. And a funny thing happened; when I asked that the question that always came back to me, the answer that came back to me was “Love, I can give this person love.” Now I know that sounds kind of cheesy and corny and I’m not talking about romantic love obviously, but just the kind of deep respect and caring that we can give another human being just by virtue of the fact that they’re a fellow human. And so I would walk around and I would ask that of myself, and each person I saw I looked into their eyes, gave a nice moment of eye contact and just sent a beam of appreciative love as, you know, a fellow traveler on this planet. And I noticed that as soon as I made that shift almost instantaneously I was getting into conversations, people were smiling, kind of energetically inviting me to come over and talk with them, and I pretty much met everyone I wanted to meet and was in fact even being introduced to people I wanted to meet at this event just by this one energetic shift. It was a very profound experience that I have continued for the rest of my life.

Susan Bratton: And so I think a lot of our conversation on this show today is going to be about eye contact, connection, presence. Those seem to be the most important things in creating repertoire. And you really got your start in the whole world of eye contact with your eye gazing parties. You’re kind of, you are famous for being the guy that created eye gazing parties. You’ve been written up in all the major press about it, I loved it so much when I was introduced to it in San Francisco that I created this product, Intimate Party Ideas, as one of the things that we teach people is how to do an eye gazing party with their friends in their home. I always thought about it as being, you know how when you have, like a really good dinner party and people come over and the conversation’s just great and when they go home you’re like “That was really fun.”

Michael Ellsberg: Mm hmm, yeah.

Susan Bratton: I had that same experience when I went to my first eye gazing party. You know, it was like “Oh, this is another fun thing you can do with your friends, you know.” 

Michael Ellsberg: Absolutely. I’ve actually organized an eye gazing party with Jamie, who is the creator of your product, and she is amazing. She’s a dynamo, and she just has this sort of magic pixie dust that she sprinkles over parties and the parties instantly come to life, so I’m excited to check out what she has to say about party organizing.

Susan Bratton: Absolutely. Yeah, I know, a lot of people, they want to have more than dinner party but even the thought of a dinner party is kind of daunting, so what she’s done with the eye gazing, when you teach eye gazing – and I want you to describe it – you also say “Well you don’t have to have music or you can put some music in the background”, you actually have a free e-book, a free eye gazing e-book, if you go to powerofeyecontact.com/bonus you’ll be able to download Michael’s eye gazing manual essentially. And you sometimes use music in the background. What Jamie does is she kind of does a rap where she talks you through the whole experience, and we recorded that so that when you buy the product you can plug it onto your iPod, stick it in your stereo system and you’ve got an eye gazing party essentially in a box. So describe to people what it’s like to have an eye gazing party.

Michael Ellsberg: Well I’ve been doing this for about 5 years now, and I’ve noticed something very consistent throughout doing these all across America, you know, on both coasts. And what happens is people pair up initially, sometimes it’s a dating event so you pair up, you know, man/woman or sometimes it’s just a community event where everyone just pairing up with anyone. And either way people are a little bit nervous and giddy at the beginning. You know, everyone is giggling, there’s a lot of nervous laughter. And then usually – and you’re switching partners every couple of minutes that you’re gazing with – and I’ve noticed that usually between the third and fourth gaze or somewhere around there a deep calm drops over throughout the room and the nervousness is washing away and people are finding themselves in this very profound group trance experience where when you’re in a room, we really as humans tend to take a  lot of queues from the other people around us, so when you’re in a room where everyone is dropping into a very deep meditative state where they’re gazing with their partner, that energy rubs off and it spreads throughout the room and you get to pretty profound and ecstatic spaces in a very short amount of time. 

Susan Bratton: One of my favorite things about eye gazing or even just making good eye contact with people is the pleasure that I get from looking at their face. We tend to have conversations where we’re not really focused and looking at the other person. And what I love is, to me there isn’t a person in this world whose face isn’t absolutely beautiful, you know. Just having the opportunity to even look beyond just their eyes, to take in their whole face and to get permission to do that…

Michael Ellsberg: Mm hmm, yes.

Susan Bratton: it somehow reconnects you with your humanity in a really expansive way. Do you get that feeling as well?

Michael Ellsberg: Absolutely. I find that one of the beautiful things of experiencing gazing is that you’re experiencing this person as a whole being and you’re seeing things in them that you might not see otherwise. When we’re just walking down the street we tend to kind of quickly put people in categories – you know, this is someone I’m attracted to, not attracted to, this is someone who might be useful to me or not, might be a threat or not – and when you’re gazing all of that passes away and you’re just with that person in front of you. You’re with their essence. And you see so much richness that you don’t normally see in your day to day life. It’s a very moving experience. 

Susan Bratton: It brings up a lot of love for me when I’m gazing at someone too. I recently went, Tim and I went to a dance and we invited one of our girlfriends that loves to dance, and she went, and he was parking the car and it was, took him a while – oh he had to go get gas and park the car before he met us at the dance. And the dance hadn’t really started yet, and I said to my friend Maryanna, “Hey have you ever done eye gazing?”, and she said “No”, but she’s the kind of fabulous woman who’s up for anything, and I said “Okay, well lets try it.” And we just sat there for five minutes and stared into each other eyes. And, you know, she’s been my friend for a couple of years now, but I, in that moment of just having five minutes to look in her eyes I felt like I just really got to see her soul. And, you know, I’m sure for a lot of people listening they’re thinking “Susan and Michael are kooky. And why are we having this conversation on DishyMix? This doesn’t talk about digital marketing.” But anything that you and I can do to spread the word and to get more people to try this, I mean anybody who tries it it’s going to positively impact their life. And one of the things that I notice when you do any kind of looking into peoples eyes, I notice that sometimes my jaw gets tight, sometimes I get a lump in my throat, sometimes I feel like my face is fixed in a little bit too smiley of a way, and it takes me a long time to drop that stuff and let that go. And you mentioned in your book about jaw tension, and I think that’s interesting. I even notice that your headshot, you have your jaw loose. So tell us about that jaw tension piece, ‘cause I think it’s important when you’re thinking about making eye contact with people. 

Michael Ellsberg: Well that’s a great question and this is something that I had noticed intuitively for a while is that the jaw seems to have a lot of emotional implications, the jaw muscle. And I had always noticed that, how much tension we’re carrying in our jaw relates to how tightly clamped down we are in our emotions. And then I was interviewing a guy called Lance Mason who teaches men how to be more comfortable approaching and attracting women, and I was mentioning that to him in the interview for this book and he said flat out the jaw is the most psychologically meaningful and important muscle. And it really makes sense. You hear phrases like ‘stiff upper lip’ or he’s, you know, kind of square jawed person…

Susan Bratton: Or tight ass.

Michael Ellsberg: Or, yeah, or tight ass, on the other end. But it all relates to holding a lot of tension, and usually tension is not related, holding in a lot of tension is not associated with sexual attraction. People, men and women, who we perceive as sexually attractive tend to have a lot of sexual energy running throughout their whole body and they’re not scared of it and they’re not trying to push it back or clamp it down. Whereas when we kind of think of a unattractive person or person whose personality is not sexy, we think of someone who’s very uptight, very stiff, very awkward in their body, carrying a lot of tension, and the jaw is a focal point for a lot of that. So what I found is that the most profound experiences making eye contact and gazing with another person, actually come when you become conscious of the tightness and tension that you’re holding in your jaw and start to let some of that go, and what you’ll notice is that as you start to let it go that emotional energy will begin circulating in your body, the sexual energy, just, you’ll have more of a feeling of flow and energy in your body and that ultimately is what’s sexy. 

Susan Bratton: So drop your jaw, just let it hang open like “ah”, a little bit. Not so that you’re a mouth breather, but just so that you’re not holding it tight. And then start making eye contact with people. It gives you a vulnerability that holding yourself tight will prevent people from coming into you where letting yourself be a little looser and a little bit more in your body and a little bit more connected will make you more attractive. 

Michael Ellsberg: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.

Michael Ellsberg: And it’s something to practice and to be conscious of as you’re driving, as you’re walking down the street. Just every once in a while check in, “How much tension am I carrying in my jaw?” Often when I check in I notice it’s a lot and I just let it go and it allows everything to feel much more relaxed. 

Susan Bratton: You’re a very relaxed person. When I’ve met you, you’re easy to be with, and I notice that about you. And it’s funny too because…

Michael Ellseberg: Well thank you.

Susan Bratton: we… You’re welcome. Thank you. We’re going to talk about love, sales and speaking as they have to do with eye contact, which is about creating repertoire, but just before we go to the break there’s also eye intimidation. One of the things that you didn’t talk about in your book was what I call the mother death stare where I can look at my kid – well I can look at anybody, you know, and give them the mother death stare. And when I look at them with those eyes they know whatever it is they’re doing they better stop it right now. And you gave a good example of that in your stare downs. Talk about the stare downs that people can go look at on YouTube just before we go to the break.

Michael Ellsberg: So I interviewed a guy called Uriah Faber who is a world champion in mixed martial arts and cage fighting. He’s a kind of short guy, he’s, you know, about 5’6” maybe, but basically could kill anyone with his hands that’s how big they are. He’s a really, really intense guy. And so in interviewing him I learned about this phenomenon called stare downs, which is apparently really big in the world of ultimate fighting champion and mixed martial arts, and basically what happens is before the fights the competitors stand in front of each other with just inches apart from each other and just basically make really intense eye contact with each other and without even saying anything necessarily. And the idea is to sike the other guy out, to show with your eyes, like “I mean business. I’m not backing down and I’m going to f*** you up” is basically what the stare says. And you can see some examples of this, I found a few that were really intense, if you Google or if you look up on YouTube “Don Frye vs. Ken Shamrock Pride FC 19 Bad Blood”, Don Frye versus Ken Shamrock, and YouTube that you’ll get an example of this that is very telling for the range of emotion that can be expressed through the eyes. This is really why I got into this is that there’s no other area that I know of of human experience that can communicate such a range of emotion so quickly. We’re talking within a fraction of a second you can communicate love, you can communicate attraction, you can communicate empathy, compassion and you can also communicate “I’m going to f*** you up if you don’t back down”, all within that range of your eye contact. The, one of the people I interviewed is a fighter named Matt Fury and he’s also probably known to a lot of internet marketers. He’s a very successful internet marketer and was a world champion martial artist. And he told me about a concept called the “thousand mile stare”, which is essentially staring through someone as if you’re looking at a point a thousand miles away. And what this communicates basically is “You’re not there. You don’t exist. You’re like air; I’m going to walk right through you. You have no bearing in my life whatsoever.” Now I don’t recommend using this very often, but when you need to that thousand mile stare can get the results you need without any words in a fraction of a second.

Susan Bratton: Exactly. That’s the mother death stare, that’s what I call, the thousand mile stare. When we come back from break we’re going to talk more about presence and public speaking because so many DishyMix listeners are public speakers. I want to make sure we get to how to connect with your audience through speaking and then of course I can’t let you go Michael until we talk about the spiritual connection that comes from having powerful eye contact. You talk about the idea of dissolving into ecstatic states where you let go of ego and judgment, and I want to have an experience with you on the show so we can give people some ideas about how they can create that in their lives. So lets to go t a break. I want to also remind you that if you want to have one of the three free copies of The Power of Eye Contact: Your Secret for Success in Business, Love and Life, you just need to go to Facebook and find DishyMix, all one word, and type and post your desire for one of the copies in the fan page. You can also just go to dishymixfan.com, it takes you right there. Love to give you a free copy of Michael Ellsberg’s new book. Lets take a break to thank my sponsors, and when we come back we’ll talk about love, intimacy and ecstasy. Stay tuned.

Susan Bratton: We’re back with Michael Ellsberg, the author of a new and fantastic book that you have to get called The Power of Eye Contact: Your Secret for Success in Business, Love and Life. Lets talk about business Michael. I thought you interviewed some really excellent interesting people throughout the book on every topic. And I particularly thought that the resources – Lee Glicksteine, Diane DiResta, Ed Tate – these people that you interviewed about eye contact and public speaking, they talked about things that I had known about or felt or experienced in my own speaking but had never really defined or put words to. I’d like to talk about this idea that Lee Glicksteine has called ‘relational presence’, this idea of presence being a huge part of eye contact. And he has some strategies for it, and I’d love you to share them with us. 

Michael Ellsberg: Sure. Well Lee Glicksteine is the author of a book called Be Heard Now, which I thought was a fantastic resource for anyone who is public speaking or communicating in front of groups. And one of the things he talks about, which I think is incredibly important and I’ve seen it validated when I’ve seen it live, is that a mistake a lot of public speakers make is they try to make eye contact with as many people in the audience; so if it’s a big audience they’re actually darting around and kind of…

Susan Bratton: Yeah, they’re scanning.

Michael Ellsberg: Scanning…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Michael Ellsberg: almost like little bullets of eye contact for a fraction of a second, and it has a very lizardy kind of darting feel that is not very warm or endearing or engaging. So what Glicksteine talks about is if you make eye contact with one person for a longer period, he likes to talk about breaths rather than seconds. So say three breaths or five breaths, one person. The other people in the room, even though you’re not making eye contact with them, they can feel the connection, the energetic connection. It’s like if you seen that movie Avatar and the creatures connect with their tails and it’s sort of…

Susan Bratton: I love that so much…

Michael Ellsberg: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: the way they intertwingle their spinal cordish taily things. Isn’t that hot?

Michael Ellsberg: That is hot.

Susan Bratton: Oh my god, it was so hot. Did you think it was hot? 

Michael Ellsberg: I thought it was very hot.

Susan Bratton: Me too.

Michael Ellsberg: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: I think it was like the hottest visual thing I’ve seen in a movie ever. 

Michael Ellsberg: And I think the reason it was hot actually is that it was a very visual representation of what actually happens when we’re connecting energetically with someone, is that it feels almost as though our nervous systems, our spinal cords and nervous systems are becoming one unit so that we’re in the same nervous system, that we’re just one being feeling the same things. And…

Susan Bratton: I love that. 

Michael Ellsberg: One of the ways you can achieve that is through eye contact, and so if you are in that sort of energetic hookup with one person in the audience the rest of the audience is going to feel that much more than if you’re just darting around like a lizard looking left and right.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, that was really good and then you segwayed into Diane DiResta’s Touch, Turn, Talk, and she took what Lee said and kind of taught you how to make it happen while you’re on the stage. Can you talk about that just briefly?

Michael Ellsberg: Sure. Well a lot of us present with PowerPoint or other tools, audio visual multi media tools in the background, and what Diane DiResta talks about - she’s a successful public speaking coach – and she talks about that most, the mistake most people make is they actually aren’t making eye contact, they’re making PowerPoint contact. They’re looking – you’ve probably seen this a thousand times – they have a PowerPoint behind them, they turn around, away from you, away from the audience and start talking to the PowerPoint as if the PowerPoint was their audience. Well that is, so what they’re doing now is making no connection with the audience whatsoever. And an important point she makes, which I think is a very subtle and valuable distinction, is that the audience is not there to get the information that you’re giving them. It sounds shocking to hear, but there’s so much information available that they can just go on Google probably and find similar information. The reason they’re there is that they want to experience you as a person, they want to experience you as a leader, as a presence, and that’s why they go and drive or travel to hear you, instead of reading your book or just Googling and finding your information on the net. And so that’s the main reason they’re there and the main way you establish that connection and presence is through being there with your eye contact. So if you’re turned around making PowerPoint contact instead, you’re not giving them the main thing they’re there to experience. So what Diane recommends is a technique that you just mentioned called ‘touch, turn, talk’, which is basically you make kind of a visual touch of the presentation behind you – so lets say you have a PowerPoint on a screen behind you – you turn around with your visual field or your little pointer, you touch the point your talking about, then - to acknowledge to everyone that that’s what you’re talking about, then you turn back to the audience and you talk about that point making eye contact with your audience. And then if you have another point or another frame that you have to talk about you turn around again, make visual contact just for a second with the PowerPoint, then turn and while you’re talking about that point again talk to your audience with that eye contact. The eye contact is one of the main reasons they’re there. Even if they wouldn’t verbalize it as such, they’re there to experience you as a person and not just the content you’re giving them.

Susan Bratton: You could’ve had a whole book just with the content you created in The Power of Eye Contact about public speaking and connecting with your audience. Also you referenced Ed Tate talking about he starts everything – he doesn’t start talking immediately, he just takes a minute to look into the eyes of three or four people for maybe a breath or two before he starts his conversation. He’s got people already connected in before he ever opens his mouth. There’s so many good tips just in that chapter alone that it makes the book worthwhile. But I want to move on to love, love, love. It’s the best part. 

Michael Ellsberg: You’re a pretty good singer. Did you ever…

Susan Bratton: Oh man, no, no, no, I just torture everybody with it. I just can’t keep it in. 

Michael Ellsberg: Okay. I was impressed.

Susan Bratton: So you wrote, “Eye contact and intimacy are involved in the dance of co-causality, intimacy can be very scary.” I loved how the eye contact and intimacy are connected, and you interviewed Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, and Kathlyn talked about this loop of awareness. We were talking about that a little bit with the Avatar and connecting into the nervous system. Describe the loop of awareness that happens when you start to make eye contact with your loved one. 

Michael Ellsberg: So the idea of the loop of awareness is if you think of our sensory system as having input and output, we are taking in information all the time and just by our being we’re also putting out energy and impressions. And so the loop of awareness is basically when a circuit is created so that you’re input is the other persons output and vice versa, and essentially, as we were talking before with that Avatar metaphor, when you’re gazing with someone – and this is particularly powerful when it’s a loved one, when it’s someone that you’re in love with or you feel a sexual attraction to or it could be during lovemaking – where you are gazing into them, they’re gazing into you and this circuit gets created where basically the boundaries between you dissolve. It’s ego dissolution. If you read any kind of mystical literature from different traditions, be it Buddhists or Hindu or Sufi or Tantric traditions or any kind of tradition where there’s a talk of mysticism, the all tend to talk about it in very similar terms, and a concept that is very frequent when you’re talking about mysticism is ego dissolution. In other words, our very contained small sense of self that just has us in this body, “This is who I am, no one else”, gets dissolved and we begin to identify with all that’s around us including the other people that are around us and we feel a oneness and connection with those people. And eye contact and eye gazing is the most powerful way to drop into that quickly and to short circuit the kind of rational analytical mind, which is very important in our day to day life, not to denigrate it, but if that’s all there is to life we can get too caught up in the rational analytical mathematical kind of, you know, “Got to get this done, this done, this done” attitude, forget that there are wider perspectives, wider consciousness that we can experience day to day, and eye contact really allows you to drop into that quickly. 

Susan Bratton: Okay. I’m a DishyMix listener. I’m listening to this, I’m going to go home to my spouse tonight, and I want to experience this. Tell me what to do. How do I talk him or her into doing this with me and what do we do? Where do we put our bodies, how do we sit down? What’s the approach, the conversation and then the actually maybe, the guiding of the experience?

Michael Ellsberg: Great. Well this is something that tends to work better if your partner is open-minded. So if it’s someone who’s very closed off to trying things that are a little bit offbeat, it could be harder to get them to try. But basically what I like to say is if I’m trying this with a new person is “You know, hey, this is a really powerful way for us to connect. This is a powerful way for us to explore our friendship and our connection on a deeper way than we normally do. Are you up for a little experiment?” I think that’s a good way to phrase it, as an experiment, because it kind of takes the pressure off having to achieve anything ‘cause it’s just an experiment. And especially if it’s a significant other, if it’s someone that you’re romantically or sexually involved with, just saying basically like, “Look, this is going to spice things up a lot. This is going to lead to really hot sex, this going to lead to us having sexy hot times together.” That’s usually enough of an inducement to get someone interested in it. So once you have them on board I like to recommend that you have a quiet room, a room where you’re not going to get interrupted, you know, you’re not going to have kids running in or the phone, you know, ringing or other kind of interruptions, and you can have some, you could, you know, do it during the day or if you’re doing it at night have nice atmospheric lighting. You actually don’t want it too dim. That’s…

Susan Bratton: You have to be able to see.

Michael Ellsberg: Yeah, you’re seeing so you have to be able to see, and so people get this idea, “Oh we’re eye gazing, lets make it romantic” and they put one candle and they can’t even see the person they’re gazing with. So it has to be enough light, but you still want it atmospheric. And you sit across from each other. You can sit crossed legged, you can sit, you know, on a couch together, you can sit on the floor, you could sit on chairs if you want to. The closer the better, and if it’s someone you are intimate with probably you’re going to be comfortable being fairly close – sitting close, not like leaning in so that you’re like nose to nose or anything. And basically you just start gazing. It’s fairly self explanatory once you start doing it. Typically it’s easier to gaze with both of your eyes into one of your partners eyes. If you try to gaze at both of their eyes at the same time you may get cross eyed, which is not very sexy. And something that’s very important to pay attention to is actually two things that we’ve already talked about. One is your breath. Actually we haven’t talked about breath yet so that’s a good thing to get into, is that another way we keep tension in our body, in our system is by breathing very quickly or very shallow breaths. And if you can slow your breathing down, start taking deeper breaths, you’ll notice that you drop into the energetic exchange, or the loop of awareness as Katie Hendricks puts it, much faster. And when you’re taking those deep slow breaths you may even notice that you’re breathing begins to synchronize with your partner, and that’s one more way you can be connected in that loop of awareness, in that dissolution where you become your partner and they become you is through synchronizing those deep slow breaths. It’s very magical when you try this. And…

Susan Bratton: I would say one thing about that…

Michael Ellsberg: Mm hmm.

Susan Bratton: When, if you’re the man and you are sitting across from your woman and you’re doing eye gazing and you’re trying to match breaths, the man is going to have to breathe more shallowly than he normally would because the woman can’t take as deep a breath as the man, and so it’s really important to kind of slow your breath down a little bit as a man and go with her pace as much as you can, and then lead her in her pace, breathe her because then she can kind of surrender into the breathing that way. But if you’re trying to breathe really deep and take these deep breaths, she can never keep up with you, so you’ll exhaust her. That’s…

Michael Ellsberg: That’s a great tip Susan. And I think that as a guy if you’re creating this experience you really want to be creating so that it’s comfortable and safe for your woman, and that’s a great way to take that kind of leadership in creating the experience for her.

Susan Bratton: And about how long should you do it your first time, ‘cause, you know, your jaw’s going to be tense and you’re going to giggle and you’re going to have that funny expression on your face and you’re going to feel out of your body and a little uncomfortable, even with your lover you can feel that way the first time you try this. How long should you give it? Should you maybe set a timer or something just ‘cause you’re doing this experiment or doing the sandbox thing to get used to it? What’s a good timing where you feel like you can get over that hump of the awareness of the exercise and actually into the exercise?

Michael Ellsberg: That’s a great question. So I’m a big fan of taking things in baby steps. I think it’s easier to incorporate and experience new habits, new practices when we start small and build up. So if it’s your first time deeply gazing with someone or with this partner, you may want to start with just a minute and that will be a lot, that will probably be more direct eye contact than you’ve ever made with another person – certainly in a social circumstance. And what works really well is to go for a minute and then take a little break, maybe get up for a second, look somewhere else, and then go in these cycles where you’re doing deeper and deeper gazing. And you can go to five minutes and then you can go to ten minutes. And one of the sections in my book is interviewing Coleman Barks who is the preeminate translator of Rumi into English, and he’s a translator of The Essential Rumi and many other Rumi books. And one thing I learned in researching this book is that Rumi, who is taken as a wise spiritual sage in the west and is one of the most widely read poets and kind of authority on mysticism that people quote, his main spiritual practice with his spiritual consort named Shams was eye gazing. And they would go into a meditation chamber and literally spend days just gazing into each others eyes. And you can imagine if you could reach altered and expanded states within a minute, you can imagine where they were going in 24 hours of it. They were probably going to some very distant exploratory realms of their own consciousness and the ever unfolding realms that can happen as you dissolve the ego state that we’re normally in and experience a wider more connected consciousness.

Susan Bratton: It’s a really nice practice to do with your loved one. It’s also a really nice practice to do with yourself. Oh, before we move into that as our last thing, I did want to let you know that Coleman Barks has been on Personal Life Media. We have a beautiful interview with him about the soul of Rumi on our show Living Dialogues. So you can find, just use the search mechanism on personallifemedia.com if you want to hear a really beautiful interview with Coleman. And if you’ve never read any Rumi maybe what you need to do is get a date with your lover and do some eye gazing and read him or her a little Rumi very soon. So Michael before we go – ‘cause we’re almost out of time, we have to be mindful of everyone’s busy lives – talk about the, you know, the spiritual practice of eye gazing and even doing it with yourself. What’s that kind of the, you know, the furthest out you’ve been when you’ve done that?

Michael Ellsberg: So one of the things I’ve noticed when I did this practice of gazing with myself is just how much energy I was putting into putting on kind of a happy face on a social setting, and I think people know what I’m talking about is that often even if we’re in a foul mood or feeling stressed out or sad or vulnerable, we’ll put on a happy face in social settings to make everyone else think that everything’s just peachy and dandy in our life. And when you gaze with yourself it’s an opportunity to drop the BS and to just be there with yourself and sending yourself compassion, sending yourself that loving energy that we often will send to our loved ones but we’re often our own worst critics and we don’t give ourselves just that embrace of “Wow, this is what I’m feeling. This is how I’m experiencing life and it has difficult parts and very challenging parts, as well as a joyful and happy parts” and just embracing it all and giving yourself that freedom to experience it all and be with it all okay. Those are some of the experiences you can have trying this gazing with yourself. 

Susan Bratton: Yeah, some self love and some perspective and some forgiveness is, it could go a long way in creating a better life.

Michael Ellsberg: Absolutely. 

Susan Bratton: That’s awesome. Well Michael, I have really, I really was just so pleased with The Power of Eye Contact as a book. I thought there were people that you interviewed, how you chose the people that you interviewed to get information. It was like they were stepping off points to a whole new discovery of more great people that had things to say about love, business, public speaking. But I think most of all the important thing that you’ve done is create a reminder for people to connect with others, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. You can literally make somebody’s day by giving them your complete attention, being totally present to them and connecting with them at the base of the human experience. And so I just encourage you if you’re listening to this show today to make that happen today in somebody’s life because you get the benefit of it as much as they do. Don’t you think Michael?

Michael Ellsberg: Absolutely. It’s, the more you give the more you get back, and giving with your presence and your compassion and your eye contact, you’re going to get it back so many times over.

Susan Bratton: Exactly. All right, lets get out there and make some eye contact. You got to meet Michael Ellsberg, author of The Power of Eye Contact. I hope you enjoyed this episode of DishyMix and it makes a change for the positive in your life. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. Have a great day and I’ll look forward to connecting with you next week. Bye-bye.