A room with a view can be as mentally soothing as meditation – Laura Waddell

Trying to make sense of the world, our brains seek patterns in what we see.

I often clamber onto the wooden window seat in my bedroom and look out at the road outside. During bouts of crushing depression, particularly those that fall like a heavy blanket that it is difficult to wriggle back out from under – common at this time of year after months of wintry weather – the simple act of looking outside can be immensely placating.

When it feels like the world falling apart (and of course, in many ways, in many places, it really is) there is comfort to be taken from witnessing daily life passing by in all its mundanity. Regardless of the existence of real stressors, when spiralling anxiety insists fraudulently there is immediate danger to react to and panic about, a look outside the window – and outside my own head – brings reassurance that, no matter what turmoil is rumbling internally, the streets, trees, people, and cars are still there, oblivious and calm, an objective reality much fresher and lighter and less frightening than what I pessimistically expected.

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And in fact, while my vista is fairly limited, what I see is never what I expect. Yesterday, in the late morning after coffee, I’d started squinting to see if I could spot spring’s green buds emerging on nearby tree branches, looking for a symbol of hope, proof of another season survived, but before I could be certain whether they were really there or not, the snow started falling, obscuring everything in a beautiful flurry of thick white flakes. Before long, the sky turned blue and sunny, as though the snow had never happened.

Last week a surprising number of silver and grey cars passed in a steady stream, a shoal of mechanical fish. Spotting workers on distant roofs is always a novelty; I enjoy tracking their daredevil progress. Like a toddler, I especially like it when a bus passes by in the evening, lights illuminating the people inside, going home, I like to imagine, to a nice dinner and a cosy environment. No doubt there is an element of projection; telling myself stories about what I see, willing everything to be alright. But the bare facts – the sky above, the grass below, and, at the moment, snowdrops and crocuses bursting out – brings the same momentary relief as doing meditation or taking ten deep breaths.



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