Head In The Clouds

I know that I am in a pocket of relaxation when I find myself watching clouds. The calming sensation of simply watching tufts of vapour gather and take on massed formations before splintering into separate threads – it symbolises a shift into deeper thoughts or just pondering.

There are other times when the natural world offers moments of welcome distraction – spend some time watching the swell and surge of the ocean, or lose your thoughts in lush green foliage under a canopy of trees. There is something elemental about being absorbed, even temporarily, in nature that seems to recalibrate my mind and soul.

This isn’t to say that the usual pattern of thoughts and mental to-dos vanish, but at these times there seems to be more scope to think a bit differently and to puzzle things out.

A quick google search shows that I am not the only cloud appreciator. There is an exquisite time-lapse clip here with calming music to mesmerise the mind on a day when access to the sky is limited, or if there is a cloudless sky.

There is even a Cloud Appreciation Society with thousands of members in over 100 countries. Membership benefits include receiving a cloud a day. Their manifesto rallies against ‘blue-sky thinking’ and advocates that “clouds are for dreams and their contemplation benefits the soul”. I heartily agree with their declaration to all who will listen:

Look up, marvel at the ephemeral beauty, and always remember to live life with your head in the clouds!

During a TED talk by the Society’s founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney (called Cloudy with a Chance of Joy), we are reminded that clouds provide an opportunity to tune in and slow down whilst watching clouds. They offer a chance to find the exotic in the everyday, in an activity that is aimless yet important in providing a legitimate form of doing nothing in an otherwise overly busy life. Cloud watching is good for ideas, creativity and for your soul.

I’m off to do some cloud-gazing. How about you?

[Photo: clouds above Hartley Valley, towards Mt York]

Advertisements

A Meditative Year in the Mountains

Recently I notched up 365 continuous days of meditation. I had meditated before, usually over shorter bursts of time when there was something going on in my life that required me to step aside and find a small pocket of time to help create a calm space for my mind. But in the past year I have managed to incorporate meditation as a part of my daily routine.

Mornings are usually the best time of day for me to meditate, before the demands, noises and challenges of the day are too clearly defined. It wouldn’t be true to say it is a time of complete tranquility as the mind is always at work on something. In my experience it is better to accept that thoughts will come along, invited or otherwise, and that it is easier to note or acknowledge them before returning the focus to the breath. Meditation is a small part of the day’s entirety and thoughts will reappear later if required.

As a creature of habit I tend to meditate in a couple of regular locations. When the weather permits, there is a seat under a leafy tree in my garden that is a favourite spot. There is something wonderful about opening my eyes after meditating and looking at up the sky through a green canopy that enhances the experience.

In times of upheaval, it has been helpful to meditate just before sleep, to slow down the busy mind and to bring focus back to the simplicity of breathing in, breathing out.

The benefits are many, both large and small. Knowing that a simple exercise can help to recalibrate my mind, creating a sense of clam regardless of chaos, is a comfort beyond words.

Do you have meditative moments in your day?

[Photo: lavender in bloom]