As the Polar Vortex threatens to creep southward and invade the northern states again, we San Diegans are hearing forecasts of 80 degrees for the week ahead. (No, I’m not trying to rub it in to all my friends and family in New England.) As I watched the early January nightly news reports of sub-zero temperatures and viewed clips of the snow and ice and people braving the cold, I felt compassion for them, but I also felt a little envious. Really.
I can’t help but observe how the bitter cold, ice and snow enforces mindfulness.
You have to slow down and be present. Otherwise you may slip and fall, or if driving, you could cause an accident.
You may meet neighbors for the first time ever as you attempt to dig your car out.
With extra time in your day from everything being canceled, you are likely to notice other people outside your normal world, and are able to express compassion or care for those who may need a push, or a helping hand.
Maybe the power goes out or the cell towers are down and you can’t get the Internet, but you get to have a face-to-face with your teen or spouse or even play a board game with them.
With the sharpness of the cold snap, your awareness awakens and you can’t help noticing your breath as it quickens and you see it freeze like smoke in the air.
The white fluffy stuff reminds you to soften your voice, to speak with kindness and practice deep listening.
The stark black and white beauty of snow-covered trees and structures, the solitude of empty streets, and the silence of softly falling snowflakes all shout to your senses.
I saw those images of people on the news, (and maybe you were one of them), their heads and faces shrouded with wooly scarves, bent low for protection against the wind, like the trees and all of nature, drawing inward and conserving energy to allow for a new cycle of rejuvenation. A reminder that this is the Yin season, a dormant period to go within, to reflect on our true nature, to take time for creative pursuits that nurture our soul and replenish our energy stores.
So – if you live in a cold climate, it’s easier to be mindful in winter.
Don’t fight the weather. Accept it. The change in routine cultivates your natural resilience, which will help you through bigger life changes. See if you can sense in your body how slowing down and mindfulness can help you feel more joy and less tension.
If you’re like me, and live in a warm climate, you have to try harder to be mindful.
We do have seasons, they’re just much more subtle. The more we use our senses, the sharper they become and we are able to notice more, what’s different, what’s new, what we’re feeling.
One last bonus tip for everyone in every climate:
All this winter talk has me thinking about snow: Looks like I need to head out to snow country for an extra dose of mindfulness and some new winter photos. But today, I’m headed outdoors to the canyon to hike and soak up some of that summer-in-January California sunshine. 🙂
For more on how to connect more with the seasons, read “Twelve Mindful Months: Cultivating a Balanced & Fit Body, Mind & Spirit” by Carol Tibbetts. Stay on the mindful path with me by signing up to get future blog posts delivered directly to your inbox.