As anyone who enjoys the woods knows the Canadian wilderness is vast. In fact, there is vastness around us everywhere all the time. However, we too often get all caught up in the small details of our lives and forget to see the big picture. Why is it so hard to remember to stop and take a breath? I think that living in the information age where everything is accessible immediately makes it hard to slow down. It becomes difficult to know how to edit all the stimulus that comes at us. As I wrote in my last post "More of me" is the trend not "Less of me." This means that we are not encouraged to stop slow down take a breath and decide what kind of things we want to engage with. We are living in a multitasking world. However, as Doidge wrote in his book, The Brain That Changes Itself, "multitasking is bad for your brain".
I know I feel unwell when I multitask and can't catch my breath, slow down and think. I feel unwell when I have ingested too much stimulus. Unfortunately given the demands in most of our lives we seldom get to opt out of the stimulus junkie world. However, if you are able to stop it is important to recognize that vastness, which is the opposite of too much stimulus, is always accessible.
Recently I managed to get 24 hours to myself. Of course I had been racing to get there ironically. I went to our haven in the woods to have some quiet reflective time. I had been running around all day but knew that I would be able to stop before dark. I set myself up on our screened in deck so the bugs wouldn't drive me indoors. It was dusk. I got myself positioned to look out at the woods as the light of the receding day shifted into darkness. I did slow down and relax. Soon enough I felt sleepy. I left the porch to bring the things in that needed to be put away for the night. As I stepped outside the screening I looked up and laughed when I saw what I thought was a pitch black sky. It was studded with so many stars that there seemed to be no room left. I had been thinking that there was nothing but darkness out there. What I found was vastness. I shed a few tears as the beauty of the sky and the stars and my surprise touched my tender heart. I was struck by the realization that the vast star studded sky is there all the time even when I can't see it. There was a wave of comfort and relief in this thought. As I moved in and out of sleep that night the image of that sky and the vastness continued to resurface. I felt peace.
Although it was a short visit to the woods that image of vastness has not left me. The truth is that the sky I saw that night is still there above all of us. Not only is it a representation of vastness but it helps us connect to ourselves in a healthy way and symbolizes our connection to each other. It is important to find ways to remind ourselves of the bigger picture. Our wellness is dependent on it.
Next time you recognize that you are feeling the impact of too much stimulus look for reminders of vastness. Anything that speaks to you of a bigger picture can be considered vastness. Bodies of water, forests, the sky, all have this potential. However, watching children or animals play can invoke vastness. Music can do the same for some people. The idea is to connect with things that take you outside yourself and remind you that you don't need to feel stuck or trapped. You don't really need to be constantly engaged with something. If we allow ourselves to slow down and be open the world will show us things we couldn't possibly orchestrate and that is the point. Moments of wonder and surprise are gifts. Priceless gifts that make us feel well.