Faced With The Vast Universe: Mental Health Break


How many of you have ever taken the time to sit outside at night and look up at the stars? Consider taking the time to get out of your bubble one weekend and finding a place to get a real glimpse at the night sky. Doing so for me has always been a great way to take a quick mental health break. When uninhibited by the light pollution, which stars seem to love to hide behind, they can be quite astounding. I used to do the same as a child, pulling a blanket up and over to cover my own face.

I was lucky enough to have family that lived far in the country and so as a child, when visiting my grandparents, I’d grab that same blanket (maybe even a pillow), and head out to the pick-up truck to spend hours staring at the night sky.

Motivated by my deep interest in space and a hope to see some “shooting stars,” I’d lay there and allow my eyes to adjust to the darkness, watching with glee as more and more stars would reveal themselves to me. Seeing the sparkling glow of the Milky Way streaking across the space above me took me out of my own self and introduced me to the greater beyond that we are all a part of. I can remember how seeing such a truly awe-inspiring sight used to provoke an array of feelings in emotion in me.

At times it was pure bliss that such a universe existed outside of my own hurdles in life. Other times it brought about confusion as I could already feel the weight of that age old question, “what is this all really about”, or, “why am I here”? As I grew into a teenager there were times when I’d allow my soul to sink into absolute existential fear that in the presence of such a great unknown, my life was utterly meaningless. But now that I am in my late 20’s, with a daughter of my own, and a more well-rounded perspective on life, I often embrace that moment of disconnectedness that one can feel when staring up at the stars.

I think of that feeling as a sort of an existential moment in time. Faced with the vast universe, I allow myself to embrace the short lived fear of the unknown, the excruciating weight of the universe when stacked against myself, and allow it to wash over me like an entire ocean levied against a single grain of sand.

I love embracing this feeling for a moment because it puts my life's issues/stresses/hurts into context and reminds me that I'm a cog in this universal machine no matter how small of a cog I may be. That ultimately brings me to a place of immense joy and happiness. I may never know the answer to the secrets of this universe but I know with no doubt that I have a place in it and I am a singular piece in this infinitely complex puzzle. To know that I play some tiny part in the universal equation and that I was lucky enough to be born a conscious, sentient being with the capacity to appreciate this all... It allots me a strong and satisfying sense of connectedness.


Credit: Image from Film Interstellar
black hole from the film Interstellar
In such a busy world as we live today, taking this time to just sit out and look at the stars is more necessary than ever. As someone who is really trying to become more aware of their own mental health, this is an exercise that I utilize fairly often in order to escape from the phone, the web, and just allow myself to decompress for a brief moment. It may seem like a silly task that a lot of people would not prioritize, but a seemingly silly task can sometimes have a much greater positive impact than you'd originally imagine. Another way for me to vicariously experience the wonders of Space is through my absolute FAVORITE film "Interstellar"! Seriously guys if you have not seen this movie you have to stop everything you are doing, stop reading this blog, and watch it!! It is life changing and I have never been so rocked to my core by a single movie before. Christopher Nolan directing and writing, Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Michael Caine with their intense acting chops. It is a mind blowing film.

Sorry for that tangent but I get extremely passionate about this film much to the annoyance of my wife as I've seen it too many times to count and it is not a short movie. 

Looking inwards and contemplating on your place in the Universe is so important in keeping your mind in a healthy place. I may not have the immense gravity of a collapsed star, turned into a black-hole, quietly creeping through the galaxies and drawing in all that is near. But I play my part in adding to the definition of what our universe is. We often beat ourselves over the head trying to solve the question of life and how we came to be. Is there a divine creator who constructed this universe that we find ourselves in? Is the Big Bang by design or is it all just random, chaos, uncontrolled and unintended? Perhaps humans are designed by the universe itself, wanting to produce a consciousness that could look back up upon itself and appreciate the wholly relentless, magnificent scale, and stunning nature of this infinitely complex and ever changing “space-scape”.

I hope that my gravity is not felt through the physical force that I exert on the objects in my orbit but instead, that my writing, my ideas themselves generate gravity that will draw other likeminded people to me. That with those ideas, I’m able to connect to the people who are on this journey with me, flying through the only space ship I will ever inhabit, Earth. 
credit: Image from Interstellar
worm hole from the film Interstellar

As we scream across the galaxy, tethered to our Sun, assuming it allows us to maintain our free passage as it leads the way; I hope that I can continue to allow the night sky to inspire me. To serve as my reminder that I play a role in the galactic play that we all participate in.

Open yourself up to the universe. Doing so is the first step in moving closer to Self-Realization. Shed yourself of the fear, pain, stress, anxiety, depression, guilt, or whatever feeling you are allowing to cloud your vision of this singular life that we have been gifted to experience the wonders of our Universe. Free yourself of those small and insignificant anchors and allow the stars to remind you just how tiny they truly are. Your perception is your power and too often we allow our perception to be abducted by negativity, fear, and unhealthy conditioned responses. Take that first step with me of remembering what it is to be free of mind, and strong in spirit by escaping into the universe for an hour or two, on any given night, simply by looking up at the night sky. No great journey is ever without struggle and hardship. Just as no great victory is ever had without first facing an obstacle, and overcoming it. Dream on fellow space watchers! If you are really looking to take your space watching experience to the next level then I'd hop over to Amazon and check out this highly rated telescope built by Solomark which is a perfect starter telescope for kids or adults. The first time I ever saw the moon through a telescope was in my college astronomy class and it wasn't until that night that I really understood the insanity of our near by neighbor orbiting Earth, impacting our ocean's tides with its gravity. The level of detail that is possible through these telescopes changes the entire experience of star gazing in a manner that can't be properly conveyed until you see it for yourself. 

With Mental Health Awareness Day drawing closer and closer (Sunday October 6th is the official start of Mental Illness Awareness Week for 2019), make sure that you are giving yourself these small breaks from the day to day stresses of reality, work, raising kids, or just existing today. Doing so is a great way to care for your own mental health and continue to keep yourself headed down on a positive direction. Check out the WHO site for more info on World Mental Health Day coming up in October.

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you did please do me a favor and subscribe so you can receive the latest posts as they are published, share this blog with your friends, and comment below to continue the discussion.

Also if you want to keep reading check out my post, "Right To Fly" where I reflect on one of my favorite John Mayer songs "Wheel" and discuss how we all have the right to fly but don't always exercise our right to take flight.

Comments

  1. The date on this article might be incorrect, enjoyed reading this.

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    1. Thanks for the comment!! Congrats lol you are my first ever comment 😂. Yeah I'm still in the process of learning how to manage my pages and a little handy trick I found online to keep a post at the top of your page was to set the date into the future. Still working out the kinks but appreciate the feedback and really glad you enjoyed the read.

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