I’ve just come back from a walk. It’s a dull cloudy day and I was thinking about the feedback I received from recent courses. It occurred to me that maybe I should share something participants tell me they find a useful analogy for meditation or living life consciously.

Awareness is like the sky

You will have to use your imagination a little to really get a sense of what I mean…

So, take a moment right now here to close your eyes and imagine a very clear blue sky – immense, spacious, and luminous.

How does that feel? Notice the openness to how things are, just as they are…

Now, take a moment to visualise a sky full of dark oppressive heavy clouds.

How does that feel?

It doesn’t feel so good, does it? More closed and limited. And often, on a cloudy day like that we have lots of matter in our mind, we become so focused on the dark oppressive clouds – that we forget about the clear bright blue sky that remains behind the clouds; we forget that the clouds are just passing phenomena.

But, everyone who has ever flown in an airplane knows that behind the clouds, the blue sky is still there, full of radiance and resplendent.

In meditation, we let the clouds come and go…

Meditation or the practice of sitting still with open attention regardless of whatever thoughts / emotions arise reveals to each person something similar. The thoughts and feelings on which we are so focused all the time are really only passing phenomena; they are not us. It is a mistake to think we are / to be identified with them or swept away by them.

We realise that we are bigger, like the sky full of happiness and calm (even when there are some clouds). We don’t have to do anything to create it.  It’s there always in the background. Being still helps us to re-connect. Here is a poem I wrote awhile ago about just that…

I AM FULL OF SKY

I stretch and wriggle and savour the sense of opening, freeing my body, my home under the warmth of the morning sun.

It’s a bright, shimmery brand new day so I close my eyes and let its radiance melt all my edges away until I am light and luminous.

I am held steady and unwavering by the lush earth under me while a dancing breeze frolics and kisses my face ‘good morning’ with the gentlest most tender touch.

Letting my senses tune in I become overwhelmed with the cacophony of sound and smells surrounding me and in me too.

Then, I sink deep down inside myself to the depths of stillness and silence where I rest awhile, no need to open my eyes, I feel the sky inside.

Vast, expansive, stretching on and on, light, translucent               the joy of so much space and freedom.

Oh, there goes a bird scudding blithely across and now still again, quiet, deep deep peace…

 

There have been stormy days when the wind whips up and the sky becomes dark and hidden by clouds, dark grey and menacing.

Then, the light becomes dim and arrows of stinging rain splatter down upon us.

Other times, of quiet drizzle and dullness when all the light has been consumed by a blanket of darkness.

Or days of crashing thunder, startling lightening astonishing me to wakefulness and gratitude to be alive and vibrant, a part of now.

Then the mystical days when the world is newborn, covered over with a thick soft white blanket of snow, each tree delicately handpainted and highlighted with a luminous border, all gleaming and new, what a miraculous world!

No matter what change blows in and covers over, heavy clouds, crashing storms, pelting rain, nature puts on such a show.

But behind it all the bright light beautiful sky remains, radiant, glorious, all encompassing, up above and deep below inside of me.    I am full of sky…

This blog was written by Joanne O’Malley, Mindfulness at Work.