The climb down

The climb down

Yesterday I got up early, ate a big breakfast of eggs, bacon and an apple and then drove by myself up into the Blue Mountains. I regularly plan days such as yesterday. This is because I feel it is very important to occasionally take time to reflect on where I am, what I’ve been doing and where I appear to be going.

I feel this is very important for a number of reasons. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been locked in front of the computer. I’ve become involved in some things and formed some habits, both of thinking and of behavior. So I go off by myself to a place that is outside my current set of micro-habits. I leave the familiar day-to-day environment in which my current habits of mind, behavior and attitude were formed. As a result I am able to step outside what is currently myself and see clearly upon reflection what is and has been the state of my being.

So often we get caught up in things. Involvements that catch us up take up our time and drain our energy. Often the more time and energy we put into our involvements, even in an act of trying to extricate ourselves, the more time and energy such things demand.

What’s more, given a fresh viewpoint, many of the things we get caught up in are trivialities and inconsequential. They are such a waste. We each have finite energy and finite time. Thus it is vital for us to remain focused on what is really important in our life or to regain our focus as quickly as possible as soon as it is lost.

So yesterday I drove up into the Blue Mountains. I had planned to do this on the particular day because previously the weather has been very unsettled here and the weather forecast said the day would dawn beautiful and sunny. When I left home there were a lot of clouds in the sky. On the way up the mountains I could see further west and it did not look good. As I got close to where I was going it began to rain.

While driving I could not help but remember my previous article regarding the Benefits of Meditation. In it I talked about how we cannot ever have all that we want the way we want it. My day was turning out as another teaching experience of that fact. When I got to a place called Wentworth Falls up in the Blue Mountains I left the car where I parked it and climbed down into what is called the Valley of the Waters.

The Valley of the Waters

The Valley of the Waters

It was raining when I left the car but by the time I got halfway down into the valley it was more like fine misty rain. I absolutely love the mountains when they are like they were yesterday. The air was cool and felt like it was charged. Everything was silent except for the sound of water running and falling.

While I was climbing down I couldn’t help but wonder how easy it would have been to somehow take the “bad” weather as a personal affront. It would have been so easy to rail about the uselessness of weather forecasters and to basically ruin my own day for myself. The weather however is what it is. Taken that way I was amused by just how beautiful the forest was in the thick mist and the rain. Better yet, because of the weather, I had the trail and the waterfalls all to myself. When I reached the valley floor I couldn’t help but think that the conditions were far more magical and beautiful then it would have been if the weather had been as forecast. We often don’t get what we want but we do seem to get what we need.

I found a dry spot, in front of the falls in the photo, on a rock under an overhang amongst the ferns. There I sat down and had something to eat and drink. The roaring of the falling water blocked out all other sound. Like white noise, a sensory depravation of hearing. To my right the valley opened out but low rolling mist cut off the view. So that if felt very closed in. Like I was in a giant cave.

Waterfalls create an interesting environmental effect. What they do is negatively ionize the air. Negative ions are atomic particles that have extra electrons. Positive ions are mainly produced through exhaust, pollution and a sealed up room or house. Negative ions, on the other hand are produced by natural processes such as waterfalls.

Studies have shown that negative ions contribute to the euphoric feeling we get in the outdoors. Where the air is negatively ionized the air is fresher, cleaner and crisper. Staying indoors exposes us to more positive ions and a lot less negative ions that are prevalent in nature.

It has been speculated that an imbalanced of positive to negative ion activity in an environment causes a reduction in serotonin levels. Serotonin is naturally produced by our bodies and is responsible for elevated moods. Negatively ionized air can boost energy levels, increase blood oxygen levels (that has got to help us think clearer), increase metabolism, and stimulate mental alertness. Even more important negatively ionized air has an effect upon depression and the ability to relax.

The Waterfall

The Waterfall

The classic image of meditating in front of a waterfall makes a lot of sense in light of the above information. I can tell you that I really enjoyed the half hour or so I spent meditating there on a rock in front of the waterfall. When it came time to come out of the meditation I opened my eyes and was a little shocked to find myself in the middle of a forest surrounded by mist. With my eyes closed the constant noise from the falls blocked out any other incoming sensory data had helped me go deep inside myself.

The experience in its time came to an end. As all things do. I stood up, stretched and started the climb back up out of the valley. While doing so I was struck by how the mind carves clear distinctions between this and that. I had a clear sense of how my mind compared and separated the enjoyableness of the sitting in front of the waterfall experience and the walking back out and driving home experience. One was clearly delineated as good and the other, as it signaled the end of the good, was not so good.

In reality this and that are interdependent. In terms of my experience the sitting in front of a waterfall flows into the walking out and driving home. There is no real separation. If a good experience necessitates a not so good experience afterwards is it such a good experience? It was just an experience. Only our subjective judgment defines it as either this or that.

So, when was the last time you took a moment to reflect?

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