If the news on television seems like a bad science fiction movie and is too much to handle, and if you can’t get out on the beach right away, how about taking a break, listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean and watching a video of the coast.
Steve Sparks said he and his wife, Judy, have explored and filmed “every nook, cranny, corner and crevice like no other time in 15 years living in Little Whale Cove. We are amazed and grateful for the inspiration to do this project during Covid-19.”
The project is a series of 30-second YouTube clips called “Mindfulness Meditation Moments,” available free from Sparks’ YouTube channel and his website at survivethriveptsd.org.
Sparks said that during the COVID-19 self-quarantine, he started experimenting with short video clips of what he called “the stunning beauty of Little Whale Cove. My goal was to keep my attention focused on nature as a way of meditating and managing stress, chronic anxiety and depression. As a result, I discovered the true value of mindful meditation practices that connected with my life and passion for nature.
“We so appreciate the stunning beauty of our neighborhood by the sea,” Sparks added. “It is very healing to be this close to nature.”
He has found that at times like this, with social distancing and quarantines, it works “to stop for a moment, take a deep breath and get closer to nature. We’ve all been so distracted in our busy lives.
“I’m a senior, and it’s been a very reflective time,” he noted. “We’ve got to find our happy places. People search for that. I realized I needed to look at my own self-care. Mindfulness has really helped a lot. It’s stunning to sit back and take more time.”
Sparks said his Mindfulness Meditation Moments connect to the healing work he has been doing for the past decade, and to his work at community building.
“People who are stressed out can see if those 15 seconds can take them away from that stress,” Sparks said of the brief videos. “Mindfulness meditation allows you to live in the moment more. Every little bit helps you recover. A lot of us Boomers wait a long time to get help.”
The video clips use natural sounds, such as waves breaking on the rocks. “There’s lots of flowing water and the sea,” he explained, adding that Little Whale Cove is “a pretty special place.”
He also shares video clips from Bryce Buchanan; those incorporate music with the images.
Sparks, who had been living in Leavenworth, Wash., for 15 years, said he and his wife realized they needed to be at the coast, and moved to Little Whale Cove, at the south end of Depoe Bay, 15 years ago. That was a healing experience for Sparks, and he said his soul is in that community.
“I grew up near the coast — I was a ’60s surfer in southern California,” he said, adding that the ocean has inspired him to look carefully at his surroundings. And that led to the approximately 150 short clips of mindfulness meditation.
Almost 10 years ago, Sparks started a blog and wrote his first memoir, “Reconciliation, A Son’s Story,” which reflects on his father’s war-time experience as underlying his own family dynamics. Now he’s at work on a second memoir. “The blog is my labor of love – it’s like raising a child,” he said. “I’ve always loved writing. It’s one of the most fun things to do.
“Everything is about healing, treatment and recovery,” Sparks said, noting he has worked with the most vulnerable populations, trying to keep people out of jail and the emergency room and often incorporating Native American healing traditions. Mostly retired from a career as an information technology sales and marketing executive, he still works at his professional services consulting business, Sparks Associates.
He previously was project consultant to Lincoln County’s Step Up Initiative, an effort to address the needs of people with mental illness and substance abuse problems in the criminal justice system, with the goal of keeping people with mental health disorders out of jail.
But now he, too, is looking to unwind and “get back to being retired, which I really have enjoyed,” he said. “I consider me and my wife a social services enterprise — not money making, but a way to give back. I feel I’m making a difference for others, and that’s the best healing anyone can do.”
To watch Mindfulness Meditation Moments, visit survivethriveptsd.org or sign up for his blog via email at [email protected]