On my way to teach yoga at a small church in a rural town on the eastern shore of Maryland, I drive past hundreds of acres of open fields of corn, soy, or wheat while gazing at the wide open road ahead of me. I can’t help but be calmed by taking a deeper breath in the fresh country air – but I also find an urge to just pull over, sit and stare. But I can’t, I have a class to teach.
Traffic Jams Of Distractions
Maybe this deeper sense of calm provided by the open space is my mind’s reaction to not feeling cramped by buildings and traffic? Maybe it’s because I’m not bombarded by billboards or lights.
Whether it’s a computer, TV, iPad or a congested city or suburb, we are always surrounded by things that make is feel small, compact, stressed, hurried, unbalanced, or cramped, and, in turn, feel bothered by how everything is limited by time and space.
Patanjali Said It First
Maybe this is what Pantajali was feeling when he wrote passage 2.47 in the Yoga Sutra? “By lessening the natural tendency for restlessness and by meditating on the infinite, posture is mastered.” (As interpreted by Sri Swami Satchidananda.)
Apparently, what we need to do is just let go of the urge to move or be constantly active, and just be able to sit and enjoy the silence of the infinite. We need to “feel” space, stability and balance.
Maybe This Is Why The Gurus Moved To The Mountains?
For me, I find that it’s not just the open road with cornfields that can calm my mind, it’s when I’m able to just sit and enjoy an amazing view that goes on as far as the eyes can see – whichever direction I’m looking.
I always remember the Sutra passage about meditating on the infinite as I drive past the fields. But I can also think of a few other times where I experienced the same feelings of freedom and calmness.
Here is a list of my five favorite places to experience the infinite, and a moment of awe:
1. Rocky Mountain Range, Colorado
Standing with my skis at the top of a Colorado mountain getting ready for another run to the bottom, I love to pause and just stare. The largeness of the land completely humbles my mind, along with my perception of where the world begins and ends.
2. Grand Canyon, Arizona
Standing at the edge of this enormous gorge, it seems as deep as it is wide. A natural wonder that provides infinite space for gazing.
3. Sailing On The Ocean
For starters, without land in sight any large body of water will do. The mind can’t possibly wander when there is nothing but the same thing to see. There is a feeling of power and serenity to know how to navigate through a space that has no markers or street signs.
4. The View From An Airplane Window
30,000+ feet high - See the infinite highway of clouds, or the wide open, undeveloped prairies, mountain ranges or oceans below, and you will know the world is bigger than you.
5. Gazing At The Stars
The darker it gets, the more infinite the stars become. Each moment after the sun fades, the universe unveils the space outside of our little marble in the sky. It truly speaks of an infinite where we can’t even possibly know the ending.
There are likely numerous locations around this earth where the infinite can be seen, like the Himalayan Mountains, the Serengeti, the Sahara Desert, or the snowy flatlands of the Artic. You name it. Anything with space, stability, quiet and stillness that calms the mind and the body, lessens your natural tendency for restlessness, and allows you to experience the infinite.