Tuesday, November 11, 2014

An unusually strong cold front is coming this way.  Temperatures below 20 degrees are predicted, brrrr!  The winds have already begun to tear off the last of the crimson maple leaves and send the golden larch needles spinning in the twilight sky.  Autumn lasted long and lovely over the past couple of months.  Now winter is flying in with snow, short dark days, and a soon to be frozen landscape.  
Seems to me this time of year invites us deeper into Stillness.  
     Before I started waking up and learning to just "be" in the present moment,  I would bemoan the loss of sunshine, time in the garden, the sound of crickets and frogs, etc.  Before I realized that "now" is all one can ever truly know (and even that is tricky business), I used to begrudgingly put on my fleece and down and feel put upon by the ceiling of clouds.  
     These days I have an acceptance of the season of dirty snow and slushy sidewalks.  Not love, but tolerance and even acceptance!  How did this happen?  What would I say to reorient my 14 year old self who slid into depression with the onset of winter?
     No quick fix.  I would probably validate her sensory conclusions about the dark and cold, and then ask her to notice her internal world...breath, body, thoughts.  Ask her if she had internal seasons and how did she feel about that?   I remember back to my candle meditations which I started when I was about 18 years old.  I began to see then the impermanence and fluctuations of that simple reality of the flame.  The seasons give one a larger illustration of that same changeability of all things.  
     My meditation practice awakened me to the changeability of the inner world of my moods and ideas.  Slowly it dawned on me that I didn't have to listen to the mind drama!  As my attention moved away from monkey mind and returned to breath and body over and over again, the mental script began to soften and even fade.  Like a snowflake in my palm.
      But then, my teenage self would have been more moved by this poem by Wu Men:

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

 from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, by Stephen Mitchell