I recently tried a simple outdoor exercise, similar to the one described below, that I found to be very effective in terms of providing relief from stress (there’s been a lot of that in my life).
The one day, just before going into it, I was feeling anxious, agitated and/or like I was having difficulty relaxing; but after +-25 minutes, I was feeling way more peaceful and relaxed—it felt like I had come away with this deep calming effect.
It would appear as though some of the things included in this exercise (that I elaborate on below) were influenced by the book The Program for Better Vision: How to See Better in Minutes a Day: Without Glasses or Contacts! by Martin Sussman, because in it the author also speaks about (a) looking and noticing what one can see (Sussman 2004:1, 41, 53, 67, 68, 70, 71, 90, 91, 134, 141, 146, 150, 152, 155, 161, 167), (b) looking for contrast (Sussman 2004:134), (c) practicing periphery awareness (Sussman 2004:65; 67; 134; 140; 142-146; 159-161; 177-178) and (d) paying attention to multiple sounds (Sussman 2004:91)—things that make up different parts of the aforementioned exercise. I read this book some years ago at a time when I was pursuing natural vision improvement (which I experienced to a limited extent) and I continue to practice a number of the principles found therein.
So if you’re looking for an easy, inexpensive and natural way to relieve stress and bring yourself into a deep calm, here’s something you can try (if you have all the necessary things to pull it off):
Find a place in your backyard or elsewhere where you can be away from people for about 30 minutes; where you can see the sky, trees, and plant life in the distance. Go there on a cloudy late afternoon or early evening before the sun has set. Dress warmly (if it’s cold) and otherwise comfortably.
Simply stand there (walk around a bit if you like), look around, and listen. Don’t be in a hurry, but take your time. Look around at the different things you can see both nearby and in the distance (but mostly pay attention to the distance): the clouds (look up and notice their movement/changes), the plant life, the birds, etc. Mentally take note of the details you are picking up (such as the contrasts in shape, shade and color). Soak in the beauty of what you see. Pay attention to your peripheral vision—be aware of it and take note of what you pick up therein.
Also, pay attention to all the different sounds coming at you: you may perceive the sounds of a hundred birds of seven different species from many locations all around you; the faint sounds of five different dogs barking from afar off; and/or the gentle sound of a breeze moving through the foliage.
Nature: God’s antidote for man-made stress.
So, in a nutshell, to pull this exercise off:
- Dress comfortably
- Find a relatively solitary place with a view of the sky and distant trees, etc.
- Choose a starting time when the sun has somewhere around 30 minutes before disappearing over the horizon
- Even if you’re feeling like your nerves are on edge, be patient and conduct your movements calmly and unhurriedly as you look about and listen
- Focus on (a) noticing contrast and details both with your eyes and ears, (b) looking for beauty (c) paying particular attention to things in the distance
- Be mindful and aware of your peripheral vision