What can you learn from watching the sun come up?
Several years ago, I ran an experiment where each morning I would walk out into the back yard with a cup of coffee and sit and watch the sun come up.
I did it for 30 days.
I didn’t turn on the radio or TV, I didn’t check social media, hell I didn’t even turn on the laptop.
I wanted to see what my life would be like if I took the time out to start each day in sync with nature and to be mindful of my thoughts.
Just me and my coffee, watching the sunrise while the sound of birds filled the air.
I quickly experienced something that I never knew existed because I’d always been so distracted.
The emergence of life. The natural unfurling of the day.
It was so gentle, calm, and effortless and I was there to experience it.
I didn’t have to do anything, except just sit there.
And show up as my full self.
So, what happened after 30 days?
In my backyard, in the stillness of nature and without my incessant mind babbling away, I felt more connected that ever.
I didn’t feel alone.
I didn’t feel lost.
I didn’t feel anxious.
Previous mediation experience taught me that I could watch my thoughts instead of getting tangled up in them. While that’s all well and good in theory, try and do that in the white heat of the work environment or while you’re pissed off with someone – it’s harder than it looks.
However, in the peace and serenity of the morning I was able to put it to the test and it worked.
I could watch my thoughts and not get tangled up in them.
With less of the inner monologue, I was more connected to what was around me – the trees, the birds, the grass, the sky, the clouds, the insects.
My anxiety levels plummeted.
I also realised that the present moment is all I have, everything else is just thought.
Regretting the past is a thought. Worrying and getting anxious about the future is a thought. They both can only exist in this one present moment that I am in right now. That blows my mind.
It all makes sense to me. I can work with that. No mental effort required.
Being no-one, going nowhere
In the peace and quiet of the sunrise, I realised I didn’t have to be anybody.
I didn’t have to put on a mask and play any games. Not to anyone and especially not to myself.
All expectations I put on myself and I think others put on me, could drop away and I could truly be me.
My thoughts will come and go like the seasons, yet I will always be here. I am the one who has to live with myself, so I might as well like me.
In the stillness of watching the sunrise, with a big cup of coffee, I was more myself, than I ever have been.
I learned that life doesn’t have to be a struggle – it can be a wonderful adventure.
There will always be inner battles, but most times I’m now less harsh on myself.
I have taken a lot from I have learned from the 30 day sunrise experiment and integrated it into my life. While things like pandemics, business closures, GAD diagnosis’ have tested me, I have survived much better because of it.
I’m always reminding myself of this lasting lesson.
Take it one moment at a time.
One gentle moment.
And show up for it.
PS if you want to start your kids on the mindfulness journey, start here