This week’s blog is written by Lynn Koerbel, MBSR teacher and trainer.
Here in New England, it’s mid-winter. Some days are brutally cold. Ice storms blow through. Other days the air hangs heavy, chilly, and damp, the perfect conditions for headaches. Then, with no warning, the wind changes and warmth floods the atmosphere: not “warm” warmth, but a relative temperateness that prompts me to peel my mittens off while walking the dog and lulls me into thinking this is the direction we’re going weather-wise, only to feel sheepish the next day when snow falls again, and I remember it’s still February.
I’ve lived in this climate for 26 years, but the strength of wanting to rest on a solid sense of direction and movement towards what I like (light and warmth) and away from what I don’t like (cold and dark) is so strong, I regularly forget.
It’s an apt metaphor, this mid-winter weather, for the moments of forgetting that happen in the heart: when I am faced with the inner chill of loneliness, or the ice storm of regret. When I touch the mid-winter season happening inside, what then?
There is a place in me that cannot resist truth. Even when it’s hard as ice. I’ve found mid-winter to be a perfect time to study this—for while there is stillness and darkness, there is also a slow, almost imperceptible movement. Even ice thaws… eventually. And the span of mid-winter—which cannot be denied in my locale—offers itself to be known, and through it, to know something deeper in the mid-winter season of the inner landscape.
Mid-winter teaches waiting, teaches patience, teaches—if I’m open—the reminder to settle again into the actuality of both the inner and the outer weather and all its lessons. When the outer cold comes—I resist the urge to grouse and take solace in the warmth of my hearth. When ice makes the dog walk treacherous, I move slow as a turtle out there.
I get my bearings in the heart of the inner wilderness by stopping in my tracks, letting my weight settle to my feet, the better to know something about here. In response to the reflexive recoil in my chest and upraise of my shoulders, I open to the fact of the ache, the way the light and temperature are, without fending.
So this is how it’s done: This is how the cold feels… this is how I re-right myself… nothing fancy. No hack needed. Just a reminder to look up, look around, take the hints of sky and horizon, find the compass of what’s true and gauge my next steps, my next breath, on the pulse of mid-winter’s invitation to wait awake. Ice thaws… spring comes—but in their own time. When I release the need to push or know—something shows up that is beyond my wildest dreams: actual life.
What’s your mid-winter truth?