I don’t mind sounding corny – some things just can’t be said enough:
Our home planet is unique…
Close enough to our sun to be warmed, but far enough away not to be scorched…
Half-days basked in light and half-days cooled in shade…
So much potential for life – this earth could be heaven. How lucky we are.
Here are some personal thoughts on how experiences of everyday wonder can help lift us from the swamping rigmaroles of personal life. I think of it as giving things a yogaturn. Because…
Because, it’s just so easy to get wrapped up in our own little world.
I got bogged down this summer. A health crisis was consuming too much energy; I could manage to teach well enough but had no creative urge to write. Small things got to me. I could get anxious about the least thing and, in the continuing rainless weeks of baking heat, I did not thrive.
One day, we couldn’t bear the screeches of our neighbours’ grandchildren on their trampoline, swings and slide. With no quiet indoors we went out to escape the noise.
On the market, two blokes stood smoking as they faced into the hatch of the little snack bar. They seemed oblivious of our efforts to get served, as we manoeuvred forwards and back to avoid their clouds of smoke.
We headed for the clean air of the hills, escaping with the curlews on the hot scorched moors.
Soothed but hot and thirsty, we then took refuge in the coolness of a favourite pub in trendy right-on Hebden Bridge. The place was busier than we’d ever seen it. People with drinks wandered uncomfortably from room to room looking for seats. Two ladies eating pickled eggs and drinking wine were comfortably sprawled across all the bench seating for three tables at one side of the room. I managed to squeeze up next to a guy’s big rucksack which he did not move from the seat; he and his stuff were monopolising a space which could have seated five or six. He looked the sensitive type but clearly wasn’t! I couldn’t help noticing that the book he sat reading was called “Higher Consciousness”.
How come people seemed so uncaring and oblivious to each other’s needs?
I like to people-watch. I learn a lot. Normally I’m upbeat in observation with a light-hearted yogaturn overview – but not that day. I longed for planet simple, where social interchange was always easy, caring and thoughtful.
I often head off to the hills in my heart and mind – it helps me see a bigger picture which is more compassionate and kind. But not that day. I just felt annoyed. Husband said I needed to get on the yoga mat, and he was right. Getting on the mat does always seem to sweeten life and set things right. I had been unwittingly sinking into my own realm of the unwell, yogaturns somehow slipping away in my preoccupation with personal affairs and health.
These yogaturns are for any time, whatever our situation and however we’re feeling – we just sometimes need reminding.
Selfish and defensive behaviour are often rooted in uncertainty, ignorance and fear.
Remembering this is in itself a yogaturn, which helps us feel compassion toward the inconsiderate or unkind, at times saving us from our own knee-jerk reactions.
Yoga helps us raise a more attuned self-awareness which is not self-obsessed.
Remembering this is another yogaturn, so we don’t take ourselves too seriously and can have a light-hearted default mode, even if we’re not in a good place at the time.
I like to lie down on my back on the yoga mat, semi-supine, open-handed, arms out wide. Eyes closed, I imagine a starry sky on a clear moonlit night. Having seen such skies and felt sublime I can invoke those feelings once again, purely through memory.
Letting such wonder be part of the ordinary everyday is yet another yogaturn. It uplifts and enriches life.
When I remember to gaze up at the heavens , I’m overwhelmed with wonder at this vast display of space and time.
Such feelings bring a shrinking sense of self without denting self-esteem. We can be reminded of our own short transient life without fearing its end.
Gobsmacked by starlight, I know that I am but one of similar billions, with each of us a tiny part of this boundless ever-changing universe. Such feelings humble me, helping me feel more connected to others and our world.
Perhaps the word ‘awe’ is overused today – but not felt enough.
Feelings of wonder, awe and the sublime are not so rare – they can just easily be missed or overlooked.
It’s not necessary to visit exotic locations, have bucket lists with bungee jumps, be an astronaut, blow our mind on drugs… to be uplifted by a transformative experience.
Such feelings come at different levels, take varied forms and induce a range of emotions. But all will help steer us away from self-preoccupation.
Shared experiences of awe and wonder can help people bond, to have more respect and love for our home planet and for each other.
Soaking up all the small wonders of our daily life adds up to an awful lot of awe… Reminding myself and others of this is the reason for this blog.
“It is one of the greatest glories of this universe that the common and inconspicuous life of ordinary men contains a thousand daily opportunities for spiritual splendour.”
From Seven Schools of Yoga. By Ernest Wood, 1931
Here are some suggestions for wonder-triggers:
- Look at an insect up close.
- Don’t miss a chance to get out in the natural world.
- Visit a cathedral or some similar awesome building or engineering project.
- Expose yourself to be blown away by someone’s creative talent, music or art, from the past or the present.
- Close your eyes and conjure up memories of awe and wonder, evoking similar feelings just by remembering them.