"The Sky Gazing Meditation is a way of connecting your gaze with nature. It begins by extending the gaze toward the sky or horizon and then slowly bringing it downward to focus on a nearby tree or plant.
"This short, easy-to-use practice can be done indoors or outdoors in a matter of minutes. Use it anytime you feel the clutter of mental fatigue or being overwhelmed. This meditation will help you get centered and refreshed, quieting your busy mind. After you are done, you will likely feel more refreshed and ready to focus and concentrate.
"While you can adapt this practice indoors by using any size plant, the ideal is to be outside with a tree and a view of the sky or horizon. Follow these five steps for approximately five minutes.
"1. First, go outside and find a location that ideally includes a view of a large tree and the sky above or beyond — so that you can easily transition your gaze from the sky to the tree while standing in place. If you can, stand within arm's length of this tree. If that is not possible, stand close enough to see the details of its bark and leaves. Try to choose a tree that is pleasing to you and draws you in — perhaps because of the color of the leaves or the shape of the branches or the trunk.
"2. To begin, slowly raise your head and cast your gaze out as far as you can into the sky. Visualize releasing or letting go of whatever troubles and worries you have into the expansiveness above you. Let go of the uncertainty, the not-knowing, the fear, the sadness, the doubt, and even the wishing it were different. Release all of that into the sky, which is infinitely spacious and big enough to hold all the worries of the world. Stand as long as you need to, continuing to let go and let be.
"3. Place your hands on the tree as you shift your gaze from the sky down to where you connect with the tree. Imagine that your feet are rooted solidly into the earth like the tree. Did you know that trees are among the largest organisms on earth? Feel your connection with the great cathedral of trees that protect our ecosystem and make our lives possible. As you feel the bark on your hands and fingers, let yourself get absorbed into the big picture of how we are surrounded and sustained by the natural world.
"4. Now, starting at the bottom of the tree, slowly turn your gaze upward. Pay attention to the smallest details, from the texture of the bark and changes in coloration to where new growth occurs. Continue to broaden your focus until your gaze reaches the highest branches at the top of the tree.
"5. Rest the weary mind as you sense your unity with nature and the wisdom it holds. Appreciate the lessons of the natural world and of the seasons, how there is a time for planting, growing, harvesting, and pausing. Allow yourself to open to these teachings in the moments and days ahead.
"When you finish, reflect on what it was like to spend five minutes with nature in this way. When might you find this practice most helpful? What was it like to release and cast your worries into the expansiveness of the sky? How did this help you separate from clutter and gain a different perspective?"— Donald Altman in Clearing Emotional Clutter