(Adapted from the work of Dr. Ramdass Lamb)
Spend twenty minutes outside, looking at the night sky. In your journal, write a one-page description of the sky. Show a wide range of observations: What did you see, hear, feel, and smell while you were outside? Did these things change as time passed? How did they change?
Notice what was going on in your mind while you observed the sky. In your journal, write a one-page description of your thoughts. What were your sensations, emotions, and reactions? You might also include the thoughts you had immediately following your twenty minutes outside. You may include reflection on the possible functions and purposes of this activity.
Create a piece of art inspired by the sky and/or your mind as you observed it. This might take the form of a poem, song, painting, drawing, essay, interpretative dance—whatever fits your experience. This does not have to be done within the confines of your journal, but there is a blank page after the lined pages for you to create something there.
What would happen if we unplugged from everything for a few minutes and returned back to nature, back to the raw materials that confronted the founders of each religion? That’s what this prompt asks us to do, to sit and observe the nature inside of us and outside of us, to just notice what is there.
This journal prompt is completely open-ended. It doesn’t have any one purpose. However, I have noticed that it can serve as a kind of entryway to observing one’s thoughts, emotions, and sensations. It opens us up to ourselves, to our bodies and minds.
In other words, this activity gets us to meditate. I hesitate to use this word, because I don’t want people to get caught up in all of the many connotations the word ‘meditation’ can have. Meditation, at base, is really just noticing our thoughts and emotions and sensations. After about twenty minutes, our minds usually start to settle down and we experience a calmness, and/or a lessening of ego. We transition from “I’m cold!” to “I feel the icy wind on my face.” A seemingly slight, and yet powerful, change in perspective.
If you had such an experience, where
you noticed your thoughts, emotions, and sensations and how they changed over
time, you might try and draw a mental map or model of your body-heart-mind as
you experienced it. Where do thoughts,
emotions, and sensations come from? How
do they make their way into your awareness?
Where do they go afterward? Can
you depict the processes you witnessed in some way?