Saturday, September 18, 2010

things are looking up!

Look at these magnificent clouds!  They hovered long, low and luxurious over us as we travelled near our home.  Even shots through the car windshield cannot hide the glory of their powdery puffs.

There is much to be seen and experienced by looking upward.  Apart from the interest of architecture, trees, mountains, sunrises, sunsets, approaching storms, chinks of light through leaves and clouds, stars and moon, looking up has a physiological affect on your mood.  We seem to know this on a gut level for we have incorporated the expression "things are looking up" into the vernacular.  When we say that, we are suggesting that all will be well and that we will soon feel good.  But you do not have to wait for your circumstances to change to elevate your mood.

Try a little experiment with me:  Cast your eyes downward and think of something that seems to make you feel sad or distressed.  With your eyes in a downward position looking toward the ground, notice the sensations in your body and how the sad feelings are easily accessed.  Now, hold the sad feeling and cast your eyes upward.  Try to maintain the same sad feeling while you look up

Do you notice that it is very hard to feel sad when your eyes are in an upward position?  Keep trying to feel sad while your eyes are held in an upward, toward the sky, position.  It is almost impossible to feel sad when our eyeballs are rolled upward.  (I notice that when I do this little experiment, my head goes down when I cast my eyes down, and my head goes up when I look up.  But it is actually the change in eye position that produces the effect.  Although, come to think of it, an erect spine, squared shoulders, head back and chin up will also make you feel better.)

You can use this little known 'looking up' trick if you are prone to negative thinking, depression or sadness.  LOOK UP.  It seems that it is physiologically difficult, if not impossible, to experience sad feelings when our eyeballs are rolled upwards. 

 Have you ever noticed when people try hard not to cry they do so by looking up?  So if you are out walking, look up at the clouds, notice the tree tops, examine your town's architecture.   LOOK UP and  it will elevate your mood - or at the very least neutralize it from a sad mood. 

 People who have studied Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) may already be aware of this little trick to enhance your mental state.

Now sometimes we need to feel our sadness and cry our tears, but if a low mood is casting a pall over your life, looking upward is one way to immediately shift out of the mood and feel clear and free again.  Or if you are feeling sad but have immediate outside obligations, look up a lot and it will help you to not feel sad until you feel secure enough to experience them.

  I hope you will try this easy technique and let me know what you think.  I wish you had to look up to enjoy these photographs of clouds, but perhaps they will inspire you to get outside, look up and feel great!


Things are really looking up!  Are you?

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  1. Bonnie! This is so great. The clouds are enough, just splendid. But besides those images, you gave me information I can use. I love finding out these physiological secrets to our psyche and emotions. Like colors that soothe a foul mood.

    I'm reminded of two looking up experiences. The first was 1975 when I went to Europe to study for the summer. I'll never forget climbing out of the van in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, in the deepest valley in the world, and looking up to the top of the Alps, the Jungfrau. It really does symbolize something joyous for me. The other experience was the following year, when I was at 7,000 feet in Oregon, and I was walking home from the library at 11 at night. I must have been staring at the path, and something caught my vision from above. I looked up: stardust . . . the first I'd ever seen it.

    Thank you for this reverie.

    And the word verification is: repast

  2. The clouds were very magnificent here Thursday. Thanks for the tip. It's amazing, isn't it, how the mind and body are so connected.

  3. hey bonnie - you know i'm sweet on cloud pictures so thanks for these treats. beyond that - well i spend a lot of time looking into the sky - even when i'm riding my bike . . . i choose my times of course. i'm wondering about the availability of the eyes to other people's eyes as being the reason for lowering the head and raising it. seeing sadness in another person is at once disarming and then also places a relational expectation on the person who views the sadness. perhaps lowering the head could also be a function of hiding the sorrow. have a lovely day. steven


    Beautiful pictures of sky and clouds - thank you. And oh yes, looking up changes everything - it is where faith and hope reign, Hallelujah!

    Love to you
    peace, hope healing and looking up!!

  5. Dear Bonnie,
    Thank you for sharing the wisdom. The technique reminds me of "sukiyaki song," a lonely broken hearted guy looks up a sky with tearful eyes.
    Beautiful photos. Clouds are great artists. I feel like making them into watercolor.
    Kind regards, Sadami

  6. some wonderful skies you got there the technique as also stretches you out a bit to look up and opens the airway for more oxygen...cleansing breathes...nice.

  7. Hi, Bonnie-- so true. A similar mood elevation can come from smiling... smile and you begin to feel better.

    Singing too. And dancing. Our bodies can really help us feel better. But looking up is maybe the easiest of all. Look up. Smile. Sing. Dance. Then share the happiness you feel by brightening another person's day.

  8. Yes, this came just right today, finding me in a little mire of despond. Quite interesting. I'll try looking up - and try not to fall over my feet at the same time!

  9. The cloud photos are really dramatic - I could get lost in them! Looking up here is the same as looking sideways- all grey, muted...the only way to elevate mood is to turn all the lights on , reflect with tin foil and stare intently at it's own S.A.D. light...The colours yellow and orange help a lot...

  10. Just got kicked back with the 503 service unavailable routine, so I will try again.

    Interesting post, Bonnie, and true. I spent the morning in the area of Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The area was inundated with people, causing me to feel a bit crowded, which is not good for the spirits. When I looked upwards, however, I was welcomed into the serenity of the infinite as if I was the only visitor there today, though I know, of course, that there are many more. When we look downward, we see our bodies, with which we tend to identify, but when we look upwards, we do not see ourselves. Instead, we have the experience of being conscious without being conscious of ourselves. Does that make sense? I don't know. Perhaps I will go back outside and look up again.

  11. Hi Ruth: What lovely examples of unexpected treasures - within and without - when one looks up.

  12. Hi steven: Yes, there are times to lower our head and our eyes. The point here is that the physical movement of looking upward and holding the eyes in that position makes it very difficult for the body/mind/spirit to feel depressed feelings. Wonderful when one already has the habit of looking upward.

  13. Photo Freak: Glad you enjoyed the pics!

  14. Sadami: Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Come back again soon!

  15. Brian: Yes, the physical posture of standing straight, with spine aligned and head elevated does expand the chest, allow more oxygen etc. But do try the simple eye movement experiment. Just that alone works too!

  16. Dan: Yes, the body is our ally. As much as our mood affects our bodily well-being, what we do with our body can affect our mood. So true about smiling - exercising those muscles produces feel-good chemicals - as does singing and dancing.

    When I have some cleaning to do and am not in the mood. I put on lively, up-beat, fast-paced music and suddenly I feel so good I don't mind the work!

    Thanks for publishing a link to this post on your blog. :-)

  17. George: Yes, what we see makes a difference - nature in all its beauty - elevation from noise and crowds, etc. But again, it doesn't matter what you see when you look up. The very act of moving the eye muscles upward seems to make it impossible to feel bad. You could do this in a dark room, or be looking up at a boring ceiling it is the movement of the muscles that produces the effect of well-being.

  18. ellen: It is amazing - the interconnection. I also think it is important to ask ourselves whether we are participating in the connections. Do we actively do the things that will foster the connection and the state of well-being for both mind and body?

  19. Robert (Solitary Walker): Yes, it would probably be wise to not look up when walking at the edge of a cliff.

    When we are feeling down, we can use this as a tool to lift ourselves out of the doldrums. I'm not sure how long the effect is sustained, however. If I am not feeling well, I sit, listen to soothing music and hold my eyes in an upward position.

    WARNING: Do not do this (look up) while crying when chopping onions, garlic and chilies for your virus-slaying soup!

  20. Wonderful photos, Bonnie.
    The looking-upwards trick when feeling like crying is well-known to me but I hadn't thought to apply it at other, less acute times.
    I shall certainly follow your advice.

  21. Friko: Thank you. Yes, it is really simply extending something we all have done at one time or another into a conscious method to diminish despair.

  22. Those skies are indeed beautiful.....I love "looking up" - at the stars, the moon, the clouds. It just makes me feel better. Maybe it's the scenery, maybe it's the psyche like you suggested, maybe it's getting more oxygen like Brian suggested. I'm guessing it's all of the above!

  23. Love it! Thanks for the info - it works!

  24. Wonderful information to have. I did notice that looking up ebbs or prevents the flow of tears but I never would have thought that it could do the same for negative thinking. That's a great tool to carry. Thank you for that.

    I have also found that when I'm consciously looking up, I find that there's a lot of life happening that I wouldn't otherwise see.. birds, insects, a blossom on a tree, a nest.. your beautiful clouds. Wonderful post.

  25. I too am looking up and what I see takes my breath away most of the time. Fabulous post and your photos are amazing!
    Congrats on your POTW award!

  26. I just love clouds and you have captured beauty!


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