When we open our awareness of “now” – this moment – right here – we engage our minds in a process that expands our senses. Instead of the narrow internal dialogue of fear or anger, negativity or resentment, craving or desire, opening our awareness of “now” is as simple as taking a breath – and looking up at the sky.
The concept of “Sky Mind” relates to a Tibetan Buddhist technique in meditation. The instruction is to breathe, to observe the thoughts as they arise, and to realize that they are nothing more than clouds that cross the sky. Some are wispy, some clumpy; thin strands, distinct shapes.
Our mind creates thoughts and that is its job. Constantly scanning for danger, for what is about to come, what is about to happen. But we can very easily get caught up in that process and believe that “we” are in danger, “we” are threatened, when in reality, it is just the function of our neurons in parts of our brain to do just that.
Sky Mind brings our awareness to a larger perspective, a larger reality. There is a slogan on the Internet these days that says:
“Go Outside, Look Up, it’s the Sky – it’s Free.“
That is the perfect way to approach our mind, and our mindfulness practice. By simply stopping what we are doing from time to time during the day – especially if we are getting wound up, stressed out, overwhelmed – taking a few breaths, and looking out – outward from ourselves, toward a sky, a horizon or even a skyline in a city, we re-set our neurons and our attention.
For persons in recovery, this practice is key to moving through cravings, calming the anxiety that comes with early sobriety, and the withdrawal symptoms that can creep up on us when we are least expecting them. Breathing activates our para-sympathetic nervous system. Breathing helps to create dopamine (the feel good chemical in our brains) and reduce cortisol, the hormone created by stress and anxiety. The best method is ten long, even breaths. It slows down the anxiety process, brings oxygen to the brain, and kick-starts the parasympathetic system.
But you don’t have to be in recovery to benefit from these techniques. Our society is catching on that mindfulness really does work at many levels.
Simply observing where we are, what our thoughts are, or what our state of being is, without judgment, without attachment. Simply breathing and being aware of our breath. Simply being.
At rest, easy and open as the sky.