Conscious stargazing isn’t about understanding scientific ideas or cosmological theories, studying star charts or utilizing expertise, says Mark Westmoquette.
It’s about growing a first-hand, experiential data of what it’s to be in our huge universe.
Mark is an astrophysicist, turned Zen meditation instructor, and writer of The Conscious Universe: A Journey Via the Inside and Outer Cosmos. With a PhD in astrophysics, Mark was a scientist researching astronomy at UCL in London when he left to change into a Zen monk in coaching for a summer time. He made a pilgrimage by Britain, from Dorset to Lancashire.
Mark now teaches Zen yoga, mindfulness and delivers aware stargazing retreats.
Right here, Mark talks to Metro.co.uk about why the key to happiness is reaching for the celebrities.
What’s aware stargazing?
It’s the pure, immersive expertise of being with the constellation above. Once we lookup with curiosity and marvel, as an alternative of the celebrities seeming chilly, distant or irrelevant to our lives right here on Earth, we really feel extra in contact with the cosmos. It helps us put our personal worries into perspective and will increase humility and compassion by reminding us that there’s extra to life than our personal wants.
Remind me what mindfulness is once more?
Mindfulness means bringing 100% consideration to what’s taking place on this second. It additionally means not judging what you assume is sweet, dangerous, higher or worse, or wishing it have been completely different.
You may apply mindfulness in some ways: by sitting quietly and observing your breath, strolling within the woods, or chopping a carrot. However it’s also possible to apply being conscious whenever you lookup on the stars at night time.
While you start to look at issues mindfully, precisely as they are surely, you’ll start to seek out that the secrets and techniques of the universe reveal themselves earlier than your eyes.
The place ought to we begin?
You do not want a telescope. You do not want binoculars. You do not want a star map. You do not have to know something about what you are . However you’ll be able to exit into the backyard or park and simply take pleasure in wanting on the stars.
You do not have to drive out to a very, actually darkish place. Stargazing within the London yard. Ideally, you must end up a solar lounger or some form of lounge chair and a few blankets after which simply sit and watch.
It is about immersing your self within the second. Take heed to the sounds, discover what you scent, and focus your eyes on one level within the sky. After which, with out shifting your eyes, change into conscious of your whole visual field. Stress narrows all the pieces, so once we look wider, we robotically really feel extra relaxed.
You do not want a telescope. You need not know something about what you are
How lengthy will it take?
It takes about quarter-hour in your eyes to totally alter to the darkness. And the darkness can embody the sunshine air pollution, it could embody seeing airplanes or satellites. Simply discover all this stuff. You would possibly hear some sounds within the distance, you would possibly discover some stars twinkling, you would possibly discover some stars have completely different colours. Simply discover and be nonetheless with this expertise.
Discover how you are feeling concerning the darkness. There are a lot of well being advantages to being in the dead of night as a lot as there may be within the gentle. For our circadian rhythm, it’s simply as essential to be in the dead of night as it’s to be within the gentle of daylight.
Taking a look at screens proper earlier than mattress mainly disrupts your rhythm and your physique thinks it is daylight. Why not strive one thing else as an alternative as a part of your bedtime routine? Sit attentively in the dead of night and lookup on the night time sky and see what happens. That is attentive stargazing.
Why does stargazing assist our psychological well being?
Once we really feel confused, anxious or anxious or depressed, there’s a form of narrowing of our notion, of our life’s view of what’s attainable. Once we get very caught up in our personal issues, they will really feel very large. Connecting with the celebrities provides you a broader perspective. We go exterior and we glance up and we notice that we’re right here on the floor of this tiny little ball of rock orbiting the solar, on this huge cosmos of billions and billions of sunshine years and stars. And it’s far larger than you and your issues. It places our worries into perspective and provides a brand new perspective. There have been some research displaying that often feeling awe can actually assist our psychological well being.
How can we preserve that perspective within the daytime?
In the course of the day it’s also possible to see the moon in addition to the solar, and you’ll change into conscious of the rhythm of the day. Sure, it will get darkish, however the solar all the time rises. It is not going to remain darkish ceaselessly.
We could also be challenged by our issues and assume it’ll keep that means ceaselessly, however a direct lesson from the photo voltaic system reveals us that it will change as a result of all the pieces is all the time altering.
Why do not we’d like a telescope?
What occurs most frequently is that individuals purchase a telescope and notice that the training curve may be very steep with the completely different lenses and attempting to determine what’s what within the sky. I might say neglect all of the expertise.
Simply exit along with your solar lounger and simply sit and see with your personal eyes. Don’t be concerned about star charts or attempting to determine something, simply be in that place and expertise the magic.
There have been some research displaying that often feeling awe can actually assist our psychological well being.
Why did you research astronomy?
My science instructor was very inspiring. He made me research astronomy and I bear in mind being captivated by the fantastic thing about the photographs of the celebrities. I additionally had a troublesome time at house as a teen, so I believe there was a way of desirous to disappear into the farthest reaches of the universe to flee.
How did you change into excited about Zen?
I did some yoga at college in my fitness center class and the instructor was a zen grasp. And it simply felt utterly completely different, grounded and actual, and it allowed me to reconnect with what was occurring in my physique and all of the issues I had repressed from my teenage years.
Zen meditation is a apply the place you get to look your self within the eye. You sit and also you reduce different distractions and you’re right here with your self. The concept is to let what should come up come up. You do not decide it to be good or dangerous, you simply let it come and let it go. And in that means we get nearer and nearer and nearer to seeing ourselves as we’re.
You’ll be able to have a look at one thing that everybody from the start of time has ever seen
It’s an obligation to indicate kindness once we have been current with ourselves. We discover issues that happen and we do our greatest to not run away or edit or minimize it out. And that in itself is a profound act of self-love.
Why is stargazing a superb mindfulness apply?
Over the course of human historical past on this planet, maybe 300,000 years, all the pieces on our planet has modified. Sea ranges have gone up and down, there have been volcanoes, glaciers and the one factor that has been the identical for us people for the reason that starting of time has been the night time sky. It is the identical view, the identical association of stars, the identical patterns, and it could really feel like a deeply connecting second whenever you notice you are ready to have a look at one thing that everybody from the start of time has ever seen.
That is the way you stare in mattress
- Open the curtains and lookup on the night time sky by the window (simply be certain that the lights are off). No matter place you’re in, alter your physique in such a means that it feels snug.
- Discover what you see. A hazy glow? Clouds? Stars? Simply take a second to look at. Attempt not to consider what you see, simply see.
- It will probably take as much as quarter-hour for the eyes to totally alter. Then, as your pupils progressively dilate, discover how fainter issues slowly seem. If it is clear, you may begin seeing increasingly more stars occupying the sky (or if not, extra of the clouds).
- Repair your gaze on one a part of the sky and change into conscious of your whole visual field. Stress tends to make us tunnel visioned. Once we purposefully tune into our visible periphery, it sends indicators to the physique that it’s okay to loosen up.
- If ideas about what precisely you’re looking at (what constellation? what sort of cloud?) or another form of ideas come up, put them apart. Do what you’ll be able to to essentially immerse your self in what you see, together with the horizon, timber and different elements of the panorama.
- Think about that the sunshine you see from the celebrities is historical. Most stars within the night time sky are tons of to 1000’s of sunshine years away, which means the sunshine left them ages in the past and has been touring by huge area ever since, solely to enter your eye proper now. Recognize that they have been right here, at this second, on this little planet we name Earth, orbiting a really extraordinary star we name the Solar. And appeared up at 1000’s of Solar’s neighbors to our neighbors. As a result of the cosmos you’re looking at is our house.
- As an alternative of feeling like we’re observing it from a distance, once we lookup on the night time sky with marvel and awe (moderately than with maps and details), we will start to really feel a part of our nice cosmos. In any case, we’re manufactured from star matter, as the good popularizer of astronomy Carl Sagan as soon as stated. Because of this the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and different components that make up our our bodies have been initially shaped inside a long-forgotten star. It is not that the concerns and stresses of your day aren’t essential, however maybe this expanded view of issues may also help you set issues in a brand new perspective.
Go to Mark’s web site for extra info on aware stargazing retreats.
Do you have got a narrative to share?
Get in contact by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.
MORE: The very best stargazing expertise that can assist you get probably the most out of the night time sky
MORE: The Large Happiness Interview: The right way to know when to depart a relationship, with Vex King