bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: cold

cold is the new hot

cold-weather-ahead_road-sign_9051379When I’m cold, my body stiffens from tip to toe. My lower back muscles squeeze spontaneously and repetitively. My jaw tightens, teeth clench. When I’m cold, there’s an inexplicable sense of urgency, a need to get places quick, a compulsion to perform tasks in a staccato. These behaviors are usually accompanied by a longing to retreat under fuzzy blankets and shut my eyes, a deep yearning for tropical escape.

I’m cold today. I was cold yesterday, too. I haven’t been bone cold like this in months, and I’m taking a bit of mindful time today to acknowledge the ways autumn’s dropping temperatures inspire my physiology. My mind is racing, my nose is running, my lips are stumbling through words, not because I’m stressed or sick or impeded, but because I’m cold. (96.6 degrees to be exact, I took my temperature.) And I am compassionately observing it all.

I was in a meeting this morning, wearing a dress sans tights or hose. I sat with my bare legs wound into eagle pose – like two bent strands of licorice. My shoulders hunched and reached toward my ears simultaneously. My smile stretched a little too tight. Because I was cold.

The earth moves and we all must move with her. For us New Englanders, that means surrendering to the cold and the changes that it brings – inside and out.

There may come a point later in the season that my skin has thickened and my body stops shuddering; but more than likely, the cold will announce its presence to me in a way that requires me to surrender to it and just be…. cold.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

Managing the Cold Mindfully

The mountain is so cold my son's head is covered in a layer of frost, but he's fearlessly reveling in the weather regardless.

The mountain is so cold my son’s head is covered in a layer of frost, but he’s fearlessly reveling in the weather regardless.  He doesn’t even have a scarf on!  Brrrrr!!!!!!

Close that door, it’s freezing out! has been the most often heard command in my house this week.  It has edged out, No candy canes before dinner!, Don’t throw ice at your sister!, and even the recurrent Put-on-your-snow-boots-we’re-gonna-be-late!!!!!

Welcome to winter in New England – five plus months of chattering teeth and cracked lips, drippy noses and numb fingertips.  The cold here is called biting for a good reason.  The wind has teeth and its nips can hurt.

This morning I took a quick drive downtown to run errands, nestled in my car’s cozy seat warmers.  I parallel parked and pushed the door open, gasping as a frigid shock of air flooded my car.  Heaving myself carefully onto the slippery pavement, I skated to the curb, searching for salty spots to plant my feet.

Making my way to the bank, I skidded over the brick sidewalk, involuntarily tightening my lower back muscles with a shiver and tremble, reflexively recoiling from the cold, adjusting my balance to stay upright while defending a blast of wind.  I hustled into the bank and scuffed the salt off my boots, relishing a few minutes of warm reprieve before heading back into the bluster.

As I walked out the door and immediately went stiff, I realized I was engaging in an internal battle against the cold – clenching my body so much my back felt achy.  The discomfort triggered my mindfulness practice.  I don’t need this discomfort.  It’s only here to tell me something.  And I’m listening carefully to what it’s saying. 

I took a deep breath, inhaling frigid air into my warm lungs, releasing it as steam through my mouth.  Warm steam.  I could produce warmth.  I relaxed my tense muscles and took a few steps, continuing to walk that way until I noticed my head and neck shrinking back between my shrugging shoulders and my lower back aching once again.  Then once again I mindfully melted the contraction and returned to the posture of a cold hardy New Englander.  Thich Nhat Hanh would’ve been so proud of me.

This time I wanted to hold onto the posture, so I envisioned warm blood flowing freely through my body, heating up my skin and keeping my muscles loose.  Cold isn’t bad.  It’s just another way of being.  Be comfortable, I thought over and over.  I considered my young children who dive into the snow hatless and spend hours digging out forts from the plowed white heaps along the driveway.  Why is it they don’t seem to battle the freezing cold like adults do?  Maybe it’s because joy trumps discomfort.  They’re not surviving the storm; they’re reveling in it.

I walked with this thought for a block or so, doing my best to fill up on joy, when another blast of wind surged, stopping me in my tracks.  My head lowered, my watery eyes squeezed shut, my hands plunged deeper into my coat pockets.  Be one with cold, be joyful in the cold, I urged myself, this time out loud.  I looked up and caught the eye of another soul braving the single digit temps.  “Brace yourself,” he warned.  “The Almanac calls for a harsh winter.”  I smiled and tried to feel thankful for all of the opportunities I’ll have to practice mindful freezing this year.

I climbed back into my car, the radio tuned to Christmas music.  “I really can’t stay…  Baby, it’s cold outside.”  You can say that again.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

This article was originally published by Vanessa Gobes on Intent.com and has subsequently appeared in Vanessa’s column “Mine to Yours” in The Winchester Star.