Snow provides a great opportunity for mindfulness practice. The fact that it’s impermanent gives us the opportunity to appreciate it when it is here, knowing that soon it will fade. We can take the time to saviour the vast, peaceful beauty of it. One of my favourite practices is mindful walking in the snow. This can take us out of automatic pilot as it can feel very different to ‘normal’ walking. The snow also provides a wealth of opportunities to be with difficulty and open to it: the inconvenience of it all – the hassle of driving through the snowy roads or walking on the icy footpaths, closed shops or the deliveries that don’t make it.
So where does the mind go in the snow? Back to childhood memories of snow fights and building snowmen? Does it mind fixate on the cold, perhaps the pain of the biting ice on our fingers as we clear our cars or play with children? What do we miss if we get lost in these thoughts? How can we choose where our attention goes and operate with more freedom at this time of year? The meditation below is one way to try and cultivate some freedom from our habitual responses.
A meditation for the snow
- Bringing your awareness to what is here – the gentle falling snow, the pristine whiteness, the peace, or perhaps the muddy slush of what was once beautiful. Following a single snowflake, watching it fall, land and fade into the snow.
- Seeing how the light is different in the snow, perhaps glistening on the surface of the snow, or noticing dark snow clouds looming above.
- Feeling the weight of our feet and legs pushing through the snow, hearing the crunching and compacting snow beneath our feet, perhaps the redistribution of weight in our bodies as we try to navigate an icy area.
- What is our body’s response when we notice the snowy weather in this way? What arises: pleasant, unpleasant or neutral sensations that we can tune into physically?
- What can we let go of? How does the mind get involved when we attempt to let go of plans (how will we get to work/school, when can I get to the shop?). What stories does the mind create around these situations? As best you can letting go and bringing a childlike curiosity and wonder to your experience.
- Can we gently turn toward any discomfort? Physical pain is a powerful pull on our awareness. When we notice such feelings we often return to a ‘doing mode’ and start thinking about the pain and discomfort, rather than fully being with it, fully sensing it. When we open to it in this way, we give ourselves the freedom of exploring what is actually here rather than the stories our mind is telling us about it and how awful it is. We can breathe into and out of the sensations that are here and make choices about how best to take care of ourselves.
- The snow also provides a great opportunity for compassion practice. How has this weather affected ourselves, what’s hard about this? And broadening out further, how has the snow affected others? What about wildlife? What about people without warmth, people on the streets or elderly people? Can we hold a kindness towards ourselves and extend this out to others who may be suffering?
Enjoy your snow days and let me know your thoughts on your mindful snow practice! firstname.lastname@example.org