When is the last time you looked up to the moon and stars? Last night, for the first time in ages, I did just that. Looking up at the cotton candy painted sky and crescent moon, I immediately felt at ease and awestruck – at peace within myself and within the world at large.
Research shows that stargazing might actually have a positive impact on mental health for a number of reasons. On a practical note, the upright posture required for stargazing has been shown to reduce stress levels, improve fatigue and foster positive thoughts. On a more spiritual level, gazing at the night sky reminds us that we’re connected to something much larger than ourselves. It reminds us that we are connected to one another, that we share this beautiful world and, beyond that, this awe-inspiring universe. Stargazing also reminds us of the infinite possibilities that exist, inspiring us to explore, question and search for answers. When I look at the night sky, I’m transported back to the feeling of being eight years old again, feeling as if anything in this world is a possibility just waiting to be explored. As we age and gain life experience, some of us are prone to pessimism and viewing the world as a cesspool of pain and grief. Stargazing reminds us that there are still things left to be explored, both within ourselves and the universe at large. It can remind us that life is not static; however hopeless things may seem, there is always room for exploration and growth. The moon and stars also remind us that, even in times of darkness, light persists. You’ve just got to search for it sometimes.
Tonight, I’d like to encourage you to look at the stars. No matter your religious or spiritual affiliation, remember we are part of something much larger than ourselves and our lives. You have infinite potential. We all do.
Stephen Hawking said it best:
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”
If you’re interested, there are lots of apps available that can be used to identify planets, stars and constellations. I use SkyView Lite:
Happy gazing! :-)