Saturday, March 1, 2014

Take the long view

Sun dogs and clouds above the chateau.

How often do you stop whatever you're doing, look up, and gaze at the sky? It's easy enough to ignore the sky, especially if you live in a city and have the busy life that's exalted in our culture. Instead of the sky, it's more practical to focus on screens small and large, books, magazines, recipes, shopping lists, the dishes, the laundry, the notes you've written in preparation for a meeting at work. We also look at each other, our nears and dears, co-workers, kids, pets, friends and neighbors.

I have nothing against focusing on the dishes, by the way. Humans are working animals. Unless we're productive, we are dissatisfied, we easily become bored. But all work and no play, no matter how great or important the work seems, dulls the ability to feel pleasure, blunts the capacity for enjoyment. It's unhealthy and out of balance.

And yet, many people continue to flog themselves with work and busywork, focusing their minds on the minute details, focusing their eyes on letters and numbers. Is it any wonder that as a society, stress is crippling us? Good lord. We have to relearn how to relax. We need inspiration. We need to take the long view. One easy way is to stop whatever we're doing every now and then, and just look at the sky for awhile. Clear, overcast, day and night, the sky is ever changing and in almost every situation, beautiful. I'm not talking about a quick glance upwards. Spend at least five minutes gazing. Breathe.

Looking at the sky extends visual focal length which relaxes the eyes and the brain. Here's a link to a Scientific American article about why the brain needs down time.  The best ideas come to the relaxed brain.

Father Sky helps us see the big picture metaphorically and literally. People have always seen patterns in the stars and shapes in the clouds. Those patterns and shapes inspire, shift perspectives, help us think clearly. In Tibetan medicine, a treatment for depression includes gazing at the unobstructed blue sky. That would cheer up anyone, don't you think? It cheers me up, for sure.

There have always been people who focused on the minute details, of course, like scribes for instance, scholars, watchmakers, painters and the like. After work, though, like most humans throughout history, even scribes stopped to look at the heavens and marvel at what they saw.

It still works, if you can remember to do it. Looking at the sky helps everything. I highly recommend it.



ellen abbott said...

great post Reya.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank you!

I know you look at the sky! Hell yeah.

Diane McGregor said...

Wonderful post - thank you!

Kerry said...

How true. I love the ever-changing sky. How interesting that sky-gazing literally relaxes the brain and eyes.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks, Diane!

Kerry, it isn't just the sky that helps relax the brain. Taking a warm shower or bath will do it too. A good night's sleep, even a nap, relaxes and cleanses the brain.

Gazing into the distance, at the sky or horizon or a ridge of mountains or out at the sea - focus on something far away and you will relax.