Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience.
It isn’t more complicated that that.
It is opening to or recieving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is,
without either clinging to it or rejecting it.
I’m pretty sure I’ve been doing some clinging lately. My thoughts on winter? Clinging. Clinging to the warmth and bustle of the December holidays. Clinging to the way things were in my days off in Seattle. Clinging to the effortlessness of being healthy, even when I got sick and had to stay home.
Do you react viscerally to changes in the seasons, allowing them to sway your moods depending on whether you’re dripping with sweat or shivering in the wind? I do. It’s a constant struggle. I’m terribly irritable during the sticky humidity of New York’s summer, excited when it rains and reminds me of growing up in the Pacific Northwest. I do a little dance of glee when the first snowflakes stick to the ground, but I remember crying (actually crying) once when I was little and the snow, so rare in Seattle winters, began to melt. It seems I just couldn’t let go of snow and all that it promised.
I’m not sure we’re raised these days to simply accept each moment as it comes. We tend to bemoan the imperfect, continually striving for something better, something out of reach. Whether it be a “better” job or different weather or more knowledge. Can you imagine what a difference it would make if you truly accepted each moment as it came and then let it go as the next arrived? It could be the end of marital strife, the beginning of world peace, the last we’d see of situational depression.
While I’m clearly being dramatic, that tiny shift from the act of constant reaching to the act of accepting could have resounding impact. In the spirit of receiving each moment, I’ve been working to identify what it is that makes winter special and unique. After all, I’m certainly not going to wait to be happy until spring.
Here are my reasons to love winter. Even (and especially) in New York.
- Snow. The possibility of snow.
- The way you want to put on a pot of tea each time you step into your apartment.
- Roasted vegetables. Roasted chickens. Roasted anything.
- Weekends spent curled up on the couch, reading under a blanket, watching the barren branches whip in the wind outdoors.
- Grasping your companion to brace against the wind as you walk down Sixth Avenue.
- The way winter brings people together indoors, in restaurants and bars warmly lit with tea candles.
- Opportunities to wear scarves and hats knitted by friends.
What, for you, makes this time special? What’s happening in your January 2010 that’s never happened before and won’t happen again?