Steering the ElephantWhat did the sky look like today?

I have asked this question many times when first working with groups of people who are trying to reduce their reaction to negative stress. Almost universally I get a blank stare, unless all hell is breaking loose, with sirens going off and various things falling to the ground. Otherwise, they ask ,”Why?” As homework, I have them look at the sky for at least five minutes a day, before our next meeting. No other directions.

On any typical day, my experience is, most people do not know what the sky looks like. They know what the weather is supposed to be, but they do not look up, or out, long enough to take it in. I think that is unfortunate – a missed opportunity to take a meaningful, personal moment. Gazing at the sky is totally under your control.

These are just a few of my gazes:

RAR 1 2013


RAR 2 2013


RAR 3 2013


RAR 4 2013


RAR 5 2013


RAR 7 2013

 When people come to their next meeting on reducing negative stress, I ask if they have done their homework. Some have, some have not. We usually spend the next 15 or 20 minutes talking about what they have seen and how much they had missed by not looking up. Usually by the next meeting, everyone will have done their homework. By the fourth week, many times I have to limit the conversation on what they had seen. Sometimes, sunsets are all people can talk about. For many of these people, this simple activity becomes an important moment, something that is theirs, and if they are inclined, they can share their moment.

Once you begin to look at the sky, you want to tell someone about it.

Here’s some homework for you:

  1. Look up at the sky for a minimum total of five minutes each day
  2. Tell yourself what you are seeing
  3. Use your imagination
  4. Tell someone what you saw