Rev. Elizabeth Rowley is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at revelizabeth@cccsl.org

Studies by neuroscientists have shown that raising your gaze changes your patterns of thought. When we look up, we activate the brain area that is also activated during meditation, creativity, and dreaming. That part of the brain is called the pineal gland, a tiny pea-sized pine cone-shaped gland. Also known as the third eye or Ajnâ chakra in spiritual circles, it’s located in the middle of the forehead between your eyes.

As a society, we have grown accustomed to looking down at our devices or looking directly ahead at our computer screens. As such, the invitation is to make it a spiritual practice for yourself to look up throughout the day.

I love to be out in nature as I feel connected to all of life when I am outdoors. The sense of oneness is palpable for me. I believe that is attributed primarily to the amount of time I spend looking up when outside.

When we enter extraordinary buildings, our eyes naturally look upwards. Think of a visit to a massive cathedral, a large courthouse, or even a corporate headquarters. These large spaces cause us to crane our heads in awe and engage with the Infinite. Next time you’re out and about in the world, look up.

I remember visiting the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican for the first time. Looking up, it took my breath away. I had to bend my neck to look directly above, and it filled me with awe and wonder. I could have spent hours studying the intricate details of each vignette.

I also recall visiting Michelangelo’s David. I walked into the museum, and it was dark and cold. When I turned the corner, a massive white marble statue seemingly nine feet tall, with light shining down upon it, stopped me in my tracks. I looked up at David’s face, amazed as if I were looking at an angel.

Let’s not forget St. Peter’s basilica and the immense splendor of it, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, walking the John Muir trail for hours looking up at the mighty Mt. Whitney, or the breathtaking view of Yosemite’s Half Dome and Yosemite Falls.

Awe.

When things get hard or seem to stagnate in dullness, it’s time to look up. When I do, I recognize I am looking up to connect with my God. I rise above fear and enter into the ethers with my beloved God who adores me. It works every time. I disconnect from doubt and concern and remember that God has my back. It must. If I were to believe otherwise, then I would be deserting the Truth in my hour of need. But oh, my dearly beloved, heavenly God, you are with me now and always. My faith makes me whole. My belief keeps me company. God is on my side and whoever has God lacks nothing.

This week, let us all spend time looking up, connecting with nature and the Divine.

And so it is.

Getting through this together, Atascadero