Tuesday, January 5, 2016
For all of December I listened to a beautiful piece of music called The Sound of Snow by Aaron Goldberg. Sometimes I sat and quietly listened, other times I would do some stretching and movement. The piece of music is incredibly beautiful and every time I heard it I would have these images of myself doing all the things I love to do in the snow: walking, skiing, snowshoeing, having snowball fights,catching snowflakes on my tongue, watching the birds out my window, skating, building snow forts as a kid, shovelling , ice fishing, tobogganing and going on snowmobiling adventures and having lunch by the campfire. These days I also use the snow as a focus for my meditation. I’ll stop while I’m on a walk in the woods, or sit by the window in my living room and just pay attention to the snow.
My years of learning about meditation has taught me how to use my body to calm my restless mind. A few simple tricks like allowing my eyes to soften and become still, or noticing my hands becoming soft and quiet, or feeling my breath soften are cues that encourage my mind to slow down and become present to what is going on around me. I let my senses be wide open. I notice the sounds around me without having to know where they are coming from. I just listen and when I am out in the woods it is magical. The sounds come to my ears, I hear them and they go. Just listening to the birds in the winter is a lovely meditation. It is so quiet and calm and peaceful. I always return home happier. Other times I’ll listen for a while and then I might give the same attention to my breathing. I just notice my breath as it comes in and out in that moment. And then my focus might switch to the snow softly falling on the trees in it’s own time. I just stand and watch. It’s a practice of residing in the present moment. This is how it is right now. It doesn’t matter if I’m inside or out, I’m being present with the snow, the beauty, the sounds and my breath. Then the focus might then shift to the posture I’m standing or sitting in. I give my full attention to my body as I walk or ski or slide. Meditation is a practice of being present and aware in the moment of what is. There is something very calming, soothing and peaceful about residing in the present moment. Thich Nhat Hahn writes in Peace is Every Step, “Our appointment with life is in the present moment.” And I’d have to say after practicing meditation for 25 years, the practice has made me more grateful.
Today I am grateful for the snow. It is art around me all the time. It creates work. It inspires us to get outside and be playful. It brightens the darker days of this time of year. It brings birds in to bird feeders and we can delight in watching them. As I begin 2016 I am grateful be alive and to have good health and I will use the beauty of the snow to inspire me as I go about my winter days.