Sky gazing is a way to feel release from the narrow confines of the personality or ego. It connects a person to the vast, expansive, clear, open, space of awareness that is their authentic nature.
It brings relaxation, peace, joy, and a fresh, crisp sense of connecting to reality, the natural state of things.
Look at the sky, and on each out-breath allow yourself to dissolve into it.
Sky gazing takes place in three parts: arriving, intensifying, and allowing
1. Settle into a comfortable meditation posture. In traditional sky gazing, this means cross legged with your hands on your thighs.
2. Breathing normally, bring your attention to the out-breath. Pay no special attention to the in-breath.
3. Rest your gaze softly on your surroundings. Do not strain your eyes in any way. Allow them to be soft and open.
4. Lean back and look at the sky, so that it fills your field of vision.
5. With each out-breath, allow any thoughts, feelings, tensions, etc., that arise to dissolve into the sky. Just release them completely.
6. As more thoughts, etc., arise, continue to let go of them. You are the infinite, openness of the sky. Thoughts and feelings can arise within you, but never actually cloud or stain your open, radiant perfection.
7. Continue this process for as long as you wish.
Sky gazing is a practice from the Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Dzogchen is often stated by all sects of Tibetan Buddhists to be the "highest teaching." In fact the word dzogchen is a Tibetan rendering of the Sanskrit mahasandhi, which can be translated as "great perfection," or "total completeness."
Dzogchen strongly emphasizes the inherent, spontaneous, natural, pure, radiant perfection of awareness that is already present in all humans. Sky gazing is one of the techniques to help a person notice this awareness in themselves.
The point of this meditation is not to space out, nor is it to have some "special experience." If either of these things is happening, stop for a moment, concentrate on your breathing, and begin again.
The point is, rather, to notice the natural, clear, open awareness behind all thoughts and feelings. Therefore if you are having a special experience, since it is composed of thoughts and feelings, you are not focusing on the object of this meditation. Or if you are spacing out, you are not being aware of awareness.
Sky gazing is all about the quality of the experience. There is almost no way to do this technique wrong. It doesn't matter how long you do it for. What does matter is the fresh, open, pure, vast quality of your awareness.
It is better to do just a short session of this meditation with high-quality awareness, than it is to do a longer session with low-quality awareness.
For people who have a long history of more structured meditation practice, the open quality of sky gazing may take a little getting used to.
What Is Meditation?
Do Nothing Meditation
Lama Surya Das' instructions for Sky Gazing, from the book Natural Perfection
Lama Surya Das' website
A practitioner's report on their sky gazing retreat experience