Monday, September 7, 2009
Power Boating and Sky Gazing
On Saturday, I enjoyed a spectacular day of power boating on Long Island Sound. Donna and I were invited on a good friend's boat to sail on a 44 mile round trip journey from Rowayton, CT to Port Jefferson, NY. The photo on the left shows the approximate size and type of boat we were on.
Here's a riddle. What's better than owning your own power boat? Answer: Having a friend who owns a power boat!
I spent much of the journey over and back sitting on the bow and enjoying the cooling wind and the scenery. I especially took in the sky and the large cumulus clouds on the horizon, made more dramatic because of the contrast with the deep blue water.
One of the types of meditation practiced by some Buddhists is called “sky gazing.” It involves lying on your back outside and looking up at the sky in a mindful state. There are two focuses in sky meditation. First, you focus on your breathing, just as you do in most any form of meditation. Secondly, you focus on the sky and visualize any distracting thoughts as floating up into the sky.
On Saturday, I practiced my own brand of sky meditation. Instead of focusing only on the sky, I gave my attention to the clouds. Clouds have always fascinated me, but only lately have I seen the spiritual possibilities in their contemplation.
Clouds are nature’s poetry. They drift across the sky, effortlessly floating on the upper level winds. They embody freedom and beauty. They are the most egalitarian of nature’s gifts—everyone who can look up can enjoy them.
So how does the soul benefit by contemplating clouds? The same way the soul benefits by contemplating a great work of art, or the vastness of an ocean, or the majesty of a mountain. Our souls are fed by beauty and nature offers us a nearly infinite smorgasbord.