(I agree that meditation with the eyes closed is better than no meditation at all!) that said
The main reason one meditates with the eyes slightly opened (and unfocused) and in fact the reason one meditates sitting up as opposed to lying down (which I wish was the position!) - is that we are trained to fall asleep when we close our eyes (and lie down)
You may be thinking that if that's the reason, you can simply train yourself to NOT fall asleep - and while this may be true - as you get deeper into your meditation practice - sleep, dullness, distraction, etc. become more of an issue. It's easier to develop good habits than it is to break them.
Again, I agree with you both that visual stimulation is distracting - it is therefore recommended that you place yourself so that the area your eyes land on is plain - some face a plain white wall for example.
I notice a difference in my ability to stay focused depending on where my eyes are focused. (This is actually a new discovery - as like you, I preferred to meditation with my eyes closed and have begun to train myself to keep them open)
It is difficult to describe exactly what the eyes should be doing. I will list briefly the 8 point position of meditation and then try to clarify what the eyes are doing:
(some teach only 7 points - this is from the Abhidharmakosha – by Master Vasubandu (350 AD) he adds the 8th, the breath)
1) Legs in full lotus position (left foot on right thigh, right on left – or at least half lotus)
2) eyes should be slightly open and unfocused about six inches from end of nose at 45 degree angle
3) spine should be straight – not too far forward or back – not resting on anything
4) shoulders should be level
5) head should be in a natural position
6) lips and teeth in natural, not clenched or too open, position
7) tongue resting at the top of your mouth, in back of the front teeth (this prevents thirst)
8) breath – natural, not forced, completely quiet to the count of 10
hands palm up, right hand on top of left, thumb tips touching, elbows slightly curved, hands resting on ankles
The eyes should be in the same state as they get when you are day dreaming - but maybe not as wide open - the lids should be about half shut and the line of sight should continue in the downward direction that is natural if you are in the correct position as described above.
I will quit here, but there is a lot more when you are ready! There are instructions to the preparation to meditation and for your surroundings, too.
Start with this - and good luck!
Cherish Others - LZR
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