Sometimes You Need A Jumpstart
In the previous Blog “Mediation In Motion” a sunset was cited as an ideal focal point for walking or standing meditation. This is important enough to cover in some more detail.
Imagine it’s been a long day. Or, a tough day. But it’s over and a good time to unwind. But sometimes it’s not easy at the end of a day to clear your thoughts, adjust your breathing, and settle into a few minutes of meditation, Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it will be possible to come down from the energy that kept you going all day. You’re still wound up, tense, unfocused. And, at day’s end, you’re probably tired and not up to do much of anything. It’s natural and happens to all of us. But let’s do something positive, let’s find a way to easily slip into a brief mediative moment.
A Sunset May Be The Answer
When you need a little help settling into mediation or mindfulness, a sunset may be the answer. Especially when the setting sun illuminates the clouds and early evening skies, it can be inspiring. It’s silent yet able to catch and hold your attention; its colors and shapes may pass quickly but stay just long enough to capture your imagination. Whether it’s one of those rare spectacular evenings when the setting sun creates a real “showstopper” or is just a bit of orange color in the western sky, it has the potential to jumpstart a brief mediative experience.
It’s Okay If You Don’t Live Near The Ocean
It’s great if you live near the coast (either east coast or west coast will do quite well) but maybe you’re close to a lake, or river or even a small pond - any body of water that may be conducive to selective light or cloud formation and then coloration at the right time. But I’ve seen inspiring sunsets in cities, in parking lots, in open fields, on streets and from windows. Just be facing west just before the sun sets and you should have a good chance to catch a few minutes of sunset color and calm.
Of course if it’s raining or heavily overcast, your sunset experience will have to be put on hold. But don’t despair! As you face west at dusk, the transition from daylight to darkness can be inspiring too. True, it’s less dramatic and more subtle than the colors and cloud formations of a sunset, but if you breathe deeply as you watch the sky darken and evening arrive, you’ll find the mediative response coming easily.
Here’s The Approach
Now, face the setting sun (or darkening sky if there’s no sunset) and focus on the colors, cloud shapes, even birds flying by, and at the same time, be aware of your deep, Yoga breathing. You are going to apply the same slow, deliberate, deep, thoughtful breathing we’ve discussed earlier (if you haven’t read the first blog, “Reduce Stress In 8 Breaths” take a minute to scroll down to check it out now, or after you’re finished with this blog; it will give you a simple yet effective way to calm down quickly!).
>> Caution: Be careful not to stare directly at the sun until it is dim enough to look at without discomfort. The daylight sun is too intensely bright to look at directly, but by dusk, just before it sets, it’s generally safe. Of course the sunset continues after the sun falls below the horizon, and that’s when some of the best colors may be seen.
Give your full attention to the sunset, let yourself think about what you are seeing, be aware of sounds around you but don’t let them distract you from the sunset and of being aware of your breathing.
Start Planning On Meeting The Sunset
Let the sunset become a part of your daily routine. Look forward to it and use it as your daily source of bringing the active day to a close and winding down. As the seasons change and the days get longer towards summer or shorter towards winter, adjust your own timing. During the darker days of winter, when the sun sets very early (in the northern U.S. it may be fully dark by 5:00 PM), your active day may not yet be over. But that’s okay, you can still take a short break just before dark and relax, even if there’s still more to do.
Let’s Not Forget Sunrises!
This blog has been about using the beneficial effects of the setting sun at day’s end, but morning sunrises can be equally inspiring. Looking east as the day begins and the sun starts its slow rise skyward can be a moment to mediate on the hopes and dreams and possibilities of the coming day.
Early morning sunrise meditation can also help you shake off the confusion of the night’s dreams. I recommend using this time to stretch; if you know a few good Yoga stretches or “Asanas,” put them to work for you. The stretches will enhance the relaxation reflexes and help instill a good sense of calm. Remember to breathe deeply and deliberately.
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" The sprit of zen embraces inner selfcare as well as physical selfcare. These zen inspirations are to help you bring yourself together and achieve inner calm, spiritual peace.