Is it more about obedience as in 'obediently looked down and listen to someone's teaching';

Or is it more about pretending to be oblivious/invisible? For example two of your bosses are fighting each other, you as their subordinate can only stand and '眼观鼻鼻观心'?

Furthermore, do people really use its literal translation?


眼观鼻 (eyes looking at the nose) = 'look down'

鼻观心 (nose pointing at the chest) = 'lower one's head'

眼观鼻鼻观心 = 'look down and lower head'

It is a graphic description of a posture

This posture can be used to express many things, like humbleness, submissiveness, relaxation and concentration

The two most common activities that require someone to 眼观鼻鼻观心 are praying and meditation .

'眼观鼻鼻观心地冥想' = 'look down, lower one's head and meditate' (require relaxation)

'眼观鼻鼻观心地祈福' = 'look down, lower one's head and pray for blessing' (require humbleness and concentration)

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According to baidu baike:

眼观鼻,鼻观心,【拼 音】yǎn guān bí ,bí guān xīn.【解 释】1、因害羞﹑惭愧等而低头的样子。2、谓精神集中,心不旁骛。

Nowadays, the first meaning of this phrase seems not to be used anymore, and the second 2 (谓精神集中,心不旁骛) is still used, usually when you practice meditation, 气功, and etc. Basically, it helps you to concentrate your mind.

The scene you described(two boss fighting), is not the setting the phrase usually is used. On the other hand, its literal meaning is more common because it helps to concentrate by doing so(as explained above).

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