Milwaukee Edition

Sky High

A Simple Gaze Invokes the Infinite

Iakov Kalinin/

Imagine being outside on a sunny day, looking at a clear, blue sky. It’s natural to feel calm and wonderful while contemplating this expansive view.

Then a solitary bird flies across our field of vision. Noticing it takes our attention away from the stillness of the sky to instead track its movement as it flies by. Then we start thinking about the bird: “I wonder where it’s coming from and going? Why is it alone? Has it lost its mate?” At that point, we are no longer feeling calm, but concerned.

Inside of each of us, right now, there is a “big blue sky” of awareness with all kinds of “birds” flying around, including thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and anything in the external world that catches our attention.

Attaining a consistent inner calm is possible by learning to be more interested in and attentive to the conscious awareness that is calmly observing what’s going on in our thinking, emotions, bodily sensations and life. We can live permanently engaged with this awareness and the inner dominion it contains instead of being helplessly caught up in the content of our own or others’ thinking or emotion, which are often conditioned by the world to be more negative than positive.

As we mature in this skill, we discover that such awareness is always still, silent, peaceful, powerful, unlimited and infinite. It reflects who we really are as opposed to who we think we are. Through practice, it becomes our natural way of being and we awake to an excellent way of living

To experience this, try the Gently Alert Attention Wide Open (GAAWO) technique. Look at something that’s straight ahead while simultaneously letting the gaze gently open up wider, looking neither left nor right, using passive peripheral vision. Now do the same with up and down, so gentle alertness encompasses an even greater scope. As we do this, we will likely notice that our thoughts are stilled and we feel more present, calm and quiet than a moment earlier.

This simple technique works for everyone. By playing with it regularly, we can discover that a sense of peace never leaves us; rather, we leave our innate, peaceful center when we focus on and feel the to and fro movements of our mind. Exchanging typical thinking for staying in a conscious state of awareness helps us to unchain our being from limiting views and perspectives, so that we live more freely.

Sandy C. Newbigging is the creator of Calmology principles and techniques, including the transformative GAAWO. He offers a 12-week Calmology foundation course at Connect at

This article appears in the January 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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