By Michael McIntire

The other day someone asked,

I am curious to know how sun gazing has changed you regarding job, friends, hobbies, interests and other “normal” things in life?”

Sun-gazing seems to amplify awareness and sensitivities. In problem solving or creative processes -like occupation, arts, music composition, research – solutions or new avenues have become more conspicuous. As time went on, novel innovations would more and more ‘come out of the blue.’ And when this happens, somewhat startled, you’d think to yourself . . . “where the heck did that come from?” Often these innovations are quite simple and straightforward. Simple solutions for complex situations.

Along with this comes an exhilarating appreciation for living things in general. Life is incredibly abundant in our world and the more you notice it, the more it notices you. There are so many messages in the way a bird tilts its head, the tone of barking dog, the hand posture of a stranger in the market checkout, the glance of an infant. This is more than just a perceptive thing. There is an empathetic component at play, which slowly over time ‘connects this to that, that to this, and this to this’. Suddenly a network begins to emerge. But, it is not all lollipops and rainbows. There can be salient emotions imbedded in these living networks or the individuals within those networks. Being aware of these things can affect you more than one would suspect. The so-called adage ‘one with the universe’ is not for the faint of heart. Nevertheless, any one thing can be very rich, there seems to be no boundaries.

Somehow, sun-gazing has nudged my capacity for empathy. Empathy is more than feeling what another is feeling. The ability to think in the manner another is thinking; that is an empathic process. In social settings, making a tiny change in the way we present our disposition can bring a cohesiveness to the group. That’s an empathetic endeavor. Offering assistance to someone in need; this is called ‘active empathy’. In conversation, saying enough but not too much, that the other person has a heightened sense of self value- That is empathic, and it builds trust. This empathetic component is innate. It is innate in humans, it is innate in most mammals, and in some birds. So, one day last Spring while coming down this small but forested hill, a seven foot evergreen tree stopped me in my tracks. This little thing was littered with cones. Very quickly anyone would notice this tiny tree was bolstered with pride for its display of cones. It was literally pregnant with joy for its accomplishment: Beaming! Exalting! And, it wanted the whole world to know. Empathy.

This post was originally published on Facebook in response to a question on the Sun Gazing group page.