Updated: Aug 13, 2021
I am an early riser. My early mornings are prompted a by the fact that I have an 8-pound, 12-year-old dog who needs to go out.... However, even without an insistent pup encouraging me to get up, I do truly enjoy rising before the sun.
My 6am walks with Remy are in the dark. The world is, at this time of day very still. For those of you who take early morning walks, have you ever noticed that an early morning dark stillness feels different than a late night dark stillness? I find there is more serenity to the morning. There are fewer mechanical sounds intruding to spoil the natural calm. The earth is deeply quiet. A perfect time to Star Bathe.
What exactly is Star Bathing? Star Bathing falls under the umbrella of "nature therapy" or "ecotherapy" or "green therapy" take your pick with the nomenclature. Star Bathing belongs to a group of practices that emphasize the connection of humans to the earth, to the natural world and to the web of life that exists around us. Its companions are nature meditation (meditating outside and incorporating some aspect of nature into the meditation); Forest Bathing (the Japanese tradition of Shinrin-Yoku, spending time under a canopy of trees and immersing yourself in the natural environment); and horticultural therapy (use of garden related activities to reconnect to the natural world).
How does one Star Bathe? First, you cast your gaze into the night sky. On your first few attempts do not be surprised if you feel a bit disoriented as your eyes adjust to the vast expanse of the dark sky. On some occasions, I actually feel a slight loss of balance and orientation for a few seconds but in short order both my eyes and equilibrium adjust.
For me, Star Bathing takes on one of two paths.
Some mornings I simply get lost in the endlessness of the sky. I contemplate its vastness. My eyes search through the glittering stars, some brighter than others. On occasion I see a shooting star. As my eyes capture the beauty of the starry sky, I try to clear my mind of all thoughts. The sky and stars become my sole focus. I may look to the moon and determine its current phase. I may meditate on how I fit into this immense world. I may focus attention on the sounds of nature...the rustle of leaves...the chirping of birds...I may become more in tune with the sounds and feeling of my feet connecting to the earth with each step. I may shape and set my daily intentions.
Other mornings I set out with a goal of locating certain stars, planets, or constellations. The identification of constellations goes back to ancient history; today there are 88 formally identified that comprise the entire celestial sphere. It is terrific fun and empowering to find different constellations. Two easy ones with which you can begin are the Little Dipper (part of Ursa Minor or Little Bear) and the Big Dipper (part of Ursa Major or Greater Bear). The Little Dipper is anchored by the North Star, Polaris.
Why do I enjoy Star Bathing? What are its benefits?
~ You connect with your senses in a different way. Through Star Bathing you discover a heightened awareness of the sound of nature, the smell in the air, the taste of the wind.
~ Changes your perspective...how often do you spend an extended period of time looking UP?
~ Builds an understanding and appreciation for the celestial sphere. There is something pretty remarkable about knowing you can use the stars for direction and determining your position on the globe. You are never lost.
~ Enables you to broaden your knowledge. With Star Bathing you are dipping your toe into the waters of Astronomy and Celestial navigation. Perhaps it will awaken a desire to pursue deeper study.
~ Grounding. Sometimes our lives become so consumed with daily challenges it is difficult to gain perspective outside the "self". Star Bathing helps you reconnect with nature. it is a good tool to gain some perspective on the vastness that extends beyond our daily existence.
How do I get started? When it is dark, go outside! Whether it is first thing in the morning, or late at night the stars and sky await you. You don't have to take a walk, or have a destination in mind. Sit on your terrace. Go out in your back yard. And simply look up. See what awaits you.