Sunsets

By Caroline Younan

We may be in different places, and our individual 24 hours may look different, but we all have something in common. Every single one of us. Wherever we are, the sun will rise and the sun will set.

We all know the recipe to good health because we’ve heard it a million times:

  • A generous serving of good sleep
  • A splash of balanced diet
  • Sprinklings of exercise
  • And a dash of social connectedness is vital

What’s missing from the list? Yes, that’s right, I bet Craig Hassed’s voice popped up in your head with the cursed ‘M’ word, ‘mindfulness’. Whilst being in isolation, ‘tricks for mental well-being’ were constantly brought up and I, for one, have tried becoming the most ‘zen’ I can be with all this extra time. It became overwhelming though, trying to juggle all of these aspects at once.

Irrespective of how my day might’ve played out or how I was feeling, however, my constant was that I knew that I loved watching the sunset. There’s something about watching the transition between the light of day gradually turning into a pitch-black sky. It is grounding. It puts things into perspective for me and I realise how small we really are. Our worries can get the better of us sometimes and it can be hard to get away from our own thoughts. When I see the sky painted in different colours, it helps me breathe. I feel present. I feel calm. I feel grateful. Even when it’s been cloudy and the sky is grey you can observe where the sun is setting somewhere else, with that part of the sky tinted gold. This habit of watching the sunset daily allows me to catch those breathtaking views of pink, gold or, orange skies we see from time to time.

Where and how I watch it differs from day-to-day. Sometimes, I stand in my front yard or at the park nearby and sometimes I am walking along a trail. Regardless, I find that listening to songs complements the view and helps me calm down and focus on what’s in front of me. Lately, I’ve been listening to ‘Mystery of love’ by Sufjan Stevens but you might find it easier not to listen to anything and instead listen to nature’s sounds. Whatever you decide to do, this is a great way of informally practising mindfulness.

If listening to mindfulness podcasts seems like a hassle and like a chore that doesn’t fit into your day, I prompt you to watch the sunset. You’ll be amazed at how rewarding it can be to and how easy it is. It’s a great way to get a fresh breath of air if you find yourself spending a lot of time indoors.

Sometimes, you will be busy doing something else and that is okay too. There’s always the night sky to look at. I use an app called ‘SkyView Lite’ to identify planets and constellations that can be seen on a clear night. Sometimes, clouds will obscure the view, but don’t let this deter you. It’s more about the act of slowing down and looking up; taking a break from our busy day and busy minds. You could do this in the middle of the day as well and appreciate the sky as it is at that time. What does it look like?

It is humbling to realise that we all live under the ‘same roof’, despite our varied lives. It can be hard to implement the overwhelming advice that’s out there about how to live a ‘healthier’ life, but I prompt you to take these simple instructions. With our lives having moved online for the past few months, take your eyes off whatever screen you’ve been behind and go outside. Look up. Take in the scene.

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