Where I live is very prone to days of fog. It furtively appears, seemingly out of nowhere. It can be hot and sunny with cloudless blue skies and then suddenly the whole landscape disappears into white nothingness. Even in my garden I can sit and watch the wet mist swirling around just feet away from me. I am in it and part of it too.
It’s a coastal phenomenon. It is also called Sea Fret and in Scotland it is called Haar. I have known it last for 5 days. The most recent occurrence lasted for 3 days. Its sudden onset causes disorientation and dramatically reduces visibility. Yet it disappears almost as mystifyingly as it appears, leaving me shaking myself as if had been a dream.
And yet, it does indeed have a dreamlike quality.
Why I am writing about the days spent in the fog is because I became mindfully aware of the impact it was having on me.
It made me feel claustrophobic, closed in, withdrawn and my mood lowered. I was aware of a frustration of not being able to see clearly.
I went for a walk on the beach in the fog. It felt eerie. I could hear the waves and just about see them as they gently rolled onto the beach. I became more aware of the ground beneath me, finding myself looking down more than ahead. The various textures changed underfoot, and the sounds changed too. It felt slightly unnerving that I couldn’t actually see where I was going or get a sense of where I was. My usually measures of buildings or cliffs had totally vanished. I could have been anywhere.
Above all, the presence of the fog made me more mindful. I was acutely aware of how I was feeling in any given moment. There was a dampness in the air which made my skin cool and clammy. Outside it made me wet. I was aware of how my eyes felt strained, trying to see things amidst the blur of white. There was a strange silence. The normal high level of chatter of birds and especially gulls, was reduced to the sounds of some close by garden bird. I was also aware of the sound of a ship’s foghorn in the distance. Somehow this felt reassuring, but I wasn’t sure how.
Of course, I was aware of preference. I really didn’t want the fog to be there.
When the fog lifted and a brightness descended over everything, it felt very freeing and everything seemed more beautiful than usual. I could feel a sense of relief in my body and mind and a huge sense of gratitude.
The fog gave me such a deeper sense of appreciation for the landscape I live in. It reminded me never to be complacent about the little things I am grateful for.
The fog also provided me with some insights about my practice. Sometimes in life I feel an emotional fog descends around me. It arrives uninvited and quite unwelcome and I seldom know what it is about. It can linger for days, and it either clears of its own accord, but more often than not I use a practice, such as RAIN, to sit with what has arrived.
By allowing the fog to just be there and not fight it, I noticed an increasing awareness of sounds and feelings and a feeling of peace and gratitude when it lifted.
Similarly, when the emotional fog arrives it makes me internalise more and go within. I become more aware of how I am feeling in much greater detail. When it lifts, I feel freer with a sense of gratitude for the fog’s passing and anything it has taught me.
The morale of this tale is that by noticing my preferences when a fog descends, I am able to deepen into my mindfulness practice and allow everything to be there as it is, safe in the knowledge that there is nothing wrong and that it too will pass.
There’s a lesson in everything.
How do you feel when the fog descends? I invite you to tune in to how a physical or emotional fog can help deepen your practice.
I’d love to hear your comments so please do write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment after this post.
Jacky has contributed a chapter to the Mindful Heroes Book entitled “Turning Empathic Distress into Compassion – A Hero’s Journey for Family Carers”. You can hear an extract from the chapter where she talks about the results of her MSc Studies in Mindfulness on Compassion & Family Carers. You can download a free sample of Jacky’s chapter here.