An Introduction To Skychology

Last week in a magazine article, I read the word Skychology for the first time. Over the past seven days, I have read it about 100 times more, as any spare second I have found has been spent googling it or messaging both colleagues and friends about it, trying my best to explain just why I have become so obsessed, so quickly.  Paul Conway, Wellbeing Coach and recent graduate from world-leading Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology Masters Programme (MAPPCP) at the University of East London, is the brains behind it.

“Skychology  - scientific endeavours to understand and operationalise interactions with the sky to enhance wellbeing” P. Conway, 2019

The sky is a never-ending, totally free and completely accessible tool that we all have access to. So, how often do you stop and look up? If this pandemic, and subsequent lockdown, has taught us anything, it is to slow down. And that is precisely what Skychology encourages; to slow down and look up. The psychological science behind why Skychology is so beneficial is still in its infancy, but in his initial 2019 study, Conway found that after the participants were encouraged to look up, they felt calmer and experienced a greater sense of connectedness and were more present in the moment.

To me, this made perfect sense – the sky is a constant, the sky is a whole lot bigger than I am and by taking just a few seconds to look up you can very quickly get lost in it. It instils a sense of awe. Seeking out that feeling was a key driver behind the Skychology theory. In the initial magazine article, Paul is quoted saying “Because awe is based on the mystery of existence, experiencing it – even infrequently – is an elusive endeavour for many. So, I asked myself, how we could all experience this feeling more often in our daily lives. I believe an answer may be on the horizon – in the form of Skychology.” He goes on to explain how awe makes us feel smaller and humbler, cultivating a greater sense of perspective and humility. I don’t know about you, but they all sound like great qualities to have.

“Awe - a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.”

I was lucky enough to arrange a call with Paul so I could a) bombard him with all of my questions and b) share insight as to how the construction industry has tried to bring the outside in. Personally, I think that lighting is an incredibly important part of wellbeing and is usually one of my first ‘easy wins’ I would suggest when thinking about redesigning your office space. Clients have previously achieved this through circadian rhythm light bulbs or putting all desks next to the windows. But Skychology isn’t focusing on how good lighting can help your concentration and sleep levels; it takes ‘access to daylight’ to a whole new meaning for me. Paul described how it’s the perspective you get when looking up, and how biologically your brain adjusts to being in a calmer state when looking away at a distance.

I am 100% sold on Skychology. Meditation can sometimes feel like quite an unattainable activity to do every day, but wherever you are right now you can stop and look out the window and practice Skychology.

“The participants’ experiences suggest looking up at the sky integrates easily into daily life; imbues an  almost immediate sense of calm; brings a renewed sense of clarity and perspective; augments intrapersonal and interpersonal connectedness; is an everyday window to the experience of awe and:  augments psychological and physiological wellbeing.” The conclusion from Conway’s 2019 study.

Paul Conway’s full report can be found here.

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