It is a rare instance for me to be caught outside, in Minnesota, in winter, for fun.
I'm not sure when I stopped enjoying being cold for fun, as I definitely enjoyed winter sports when I was younger. Snowboarding, sledding, snowball fights, ice skating. I definitely remember enjoying being outside. I contemplate these memories as I peer through my several layers of parkas, gloves, and hats on hats at my meditation timer in preparation to do my Observe and Reflection exercise.
In the initial ten minutes of sitting in silence with myself, I'm first struck by how little shivering was happening in my body. It was as if I had preemptively steeled myself against a situation that wasn't actually a threat. I noticed where in my body my breath was residing, and living, moving through my inner core and impacting my back, side, and front body. I noticed the different sensations of cold - lightly kissing the tip of my nose and trailing lovingly along my thighs. I noticed only discomfort fingertips, where winter seemed to pinch aggressively into my nail beds. Immediately, I tucked them into my sleeves and felt better.
The thoughts arose during that time felt frenetic. I had a hard time pushing them away, but I found, with enough time, if I responded with gratitude of the message it was trying to deliver, and then asked it to wait until after, they dissolved more readily. Finally I was left with sensing the true nature of cold, in that moment, in peace.
Upon the second bell heralding the arrival of the second ten minutes, dedicated to active observation, I opened my eyes to raw white-blue beauty. It had started snowing in earnest when I had my eyes closed, and I was greeted with the beauty of falling flakes. I observed them collecting, elegantly, without consciousness, without pretentiousness, drifting onto every surface with grace. I observed their ability to cover, even obscure, with depth and gentleness. Aside from the hum of man-made appliances, for warmth, the world was quiet, blanketed in the multitude of small moments.
When the third bell struck, I was already thinking about how these snowflakes mark the impact a thousand small gestures can have. Multitudes of people, or thoughts, or gestures can blanket the world. The healing quality of hushed sound also highlighted the beauty of the journey inward. So often I am afraid of winter and the depression that comes with it - but why is it that animals have these rituals regarding darkness and cold, and we don't? Hibernation does not have to mean these connotations of weight gain, undesirability, family feuding, and capitalism. Winter can mean a deep sense of connectedness to the wheel of life, with winter and cold being a part of the larger cyclical connection to the system.
I realized that I am so focused on the yang of the world - the energetic rushing and pushing and striving that comes from a more masculine focused way of the world. We strive against external expectations to blend in, to assimilate, and yet be individual...these things do not coincide. I need more yin in my life - more feminine, more nourishing, more introspection, to fully see that internal support, the support of relationships, is also important in the lessons the world has to offer me. Winter, cold, a slowing down, hibernation....inner life, nourishment, and support.