Mindfulness as Told From the Moon


This illustration provided by Dan Durda shows the exoplanet Kepler-1625b with a hypothesized moon. On Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, two Columbia University researchers reported their results that the potential exomoon would be the size of Neptune or Uranus. The exoplanet, about 8,000 light-years away, is as big as Jupiter. (Dan Durda via AP)

We are surrounded by beauty that we cannot see. Oceans too vast, to see the other side. Earth much exploited, to see the green. But what about the grass and the trees and the sunflowers? The leaves changing color, to an oblivious world. Jean Paul Sartre once stated “Man is condemned to be free.” Could it be that one’s own liberation has led us to take such things for granted?

From the perspective of the moon, the Earth is beautiful. And we are free.

But it is within our minds that we are enslaved.

In honor of World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, I found myself reflecting upon the oppressing monotony of life on Earth.

On Dec. 21, 1968, Frank Borman, Bill Anders and James Lovell were the first humans to venture from earth and orbit the moon. It was during this mission, that the crew captured the first colored photograph of the Earth from the moon. The photo became referred to as “Earthrise” and cultivated a new movement towards revelling in the beauty of our own planet.

Many years later in 2018, filmmaker Emmanuel Vaughan Lee, revisited this beloved photograph as a symbol of unity in a world of “political, social and ecological upheaval.” And while his documentary, Earthrise, captured this sense of awe from the Apollo 8 Crew, he also found a simplistic sense of wonderment within each of the astronauts over their sense of belonging and awareness of “home”.

Perhaps, this photograph, a moment of intense vulnerability for humanity, could be a lesson in not only peace among borders, but peace within ourselves.

We as a species are constant consumers. Intensely consuming information, products and McDonald french fries. The idea of appreciating the simplicity of nature has become a lost art. Instead we strive to change, to conform and to fulfill a never ending purpose.

Think about this: we spend hours in the bathroom blow drying our hair. Even longer

answering emails on our desktop computers. Scrolling mindlessly through social media. Amazon boxes line front doorsteps. And why? Because we feel as if these are things we need to do.

As a result, our mental health is suffering.

Globally over 350 million people suffer from depression each year while one in 13 people have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. In fact, about 450 million people suffer from some kind of mental health disorder. The society we have created, is detrimental to the wellbeing of its people.

Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist from University of Wisconsin explained the meaning behind mindfulness: “Mindfulness is about being fully aware in the present moment. It’s about bringing our attention back to the present moment and not getting carried away by our thoughts”.

Tom Insel, director of NIMH, further explained the concept. “When they’re depressed, people are locked in the past. They’re ruminating about something that happened that they can’t let go of,” said Insel. “When they’re anxious, they’re ruminating about the future — it’s that anticipation of what they can’t control”.

If we cannot all travel to the moon to gain new perspective on the way we live, we can at the very least strive to seek the serenity in everyday life.

Let us regain our freedom. Stop to look up at the stars. And find peace within our beautiful planet Earth.

Kate Luongo  is a contributor to The Daily Campus Life section.  She can be reached via email at katherine.luongo@uconn.edu.

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