Cold Weather, Hatred and Being Here Now
I’m originally from Michigan. Twelve years ago I moved because, and I quote, “I HATE the cold weather!” Everything in life can be a teaching lesson or something that helps us grow. The cold taught me a valuable lesson one day that I often share in practice. We can choose to see a disease, health problem, pain in the body, a person, a job or anything else as a problem or we can change our perspective, be mindful and completely present, and have a massive shift of perspective, which often resolves what were judging as a problem. In other words, the problem is not “out there”, but “in here.” Let me explain.
I have always vilified the cold weather. I have always seen it as THE problem. I literally blame the cold weather for how I am suffering (hatred) when I experience it. Essentially, my perception is that the cold causes me to suffer. So one day in December, I return back to Michigan for a visit and over night the temperature dropped from 35 degrees to 10 degrees. As if it wasn’t cold enough already at 35 degrees. I open the garage door that morning, and the cold wind smacked me hard right in the face. How did I experience the cold in that exact moment?
Instantly, I tense every muscle in my body. I pull my arms in very close to my body and I might have just dropped into the fetal position right there if it were not for the fact that I had to go somewhere. My breathing got very shallow. I began to shiver very shortly thereafter and begin muttering silent thoughts in my head about how intensely I feel HATRED towards the cold weather. All of this was happening all at once and I was completely unaware that I was experiencing the cold weather this way.
We all do this. We often live unconsciously. We aren’t aware or present to how we are experiencing most things in our life. I commonly ask people how they feel about a pain in their body. Often this garners blank stares. Have you ever really just noticed the pain? What would happen if you stopped resisting the pain? How do you feel about the pain? What does the pain represent to you? These questions can be asked in different ways about much of what happens to us in life. One thing is for sure, we are not in the present moment much of the time. This is ironic because the Eternal Now is all we ever have. We live much of our lives in the past (why did I get this pain?) or future (when will this pain just go away?!). We aren’t present to the pain right here and now.
I had no clue I was experiencing the cold weather in any of these ways. My reactions were done completely unconsciously. As I get better in my life about truly being here now, with presence and awareness in this moment in the NOW, I stop seeing things as problems and begin to experience the true aliveness that is in the moment, rather than the suffering I experience because of the perceived problem my mind is creating.
In a flash of mindfulness, everything began to shift. I stopped right in the middle of the driveway. I became AWARE my breath was shallow and restricted and I started taking deep slow breaths. I then asked myself, “Could I welcome all of the cold in this moment (as opposed to resisting it)?” So I welcomed the cold. I then noticed the tension all over my body in my muscles and breathed into the tension, allowing all my muscles to fully relax. Then I noticed the shivering and didn’t try to change my experience of it and continued to just notice it. Have you ever just fully noticed shivering? I noticed all the judgments (thoughts) I was having about the cold. Underneath the layers of the thoughts was hatred I was projecting onto the cold. I welcomed all the hatred realizing that the cold was generating a sense of wanting approval (rejecting the cold), wanting control (I wanted to force my experience to be different), and wanting separation (I wanted to get as far away from the cold as possible). I noticed all that desire/lust (wanting) and simply asked myself if I could set it all free, which I did. The hatred softened very quickly and I began to feel more connected to and in harmony with the cold weather.
All the suffering ceased (physical responses, thoughts, judgments and emotions). The cold had never offended me, nor was offended by the cold and took it personal as I had always done. It is just cold being what it is – cold. When all of this dropped away, a sense of “I” dropped away, and The Presence, Stillness and Aliveness of Life itself (divinity) began to emerge forth from the background of the experience. When the mind is surrendered, only Being remains. Who and what defines all of life began to radiate into the experience. Without mind, no problems exist. All problems are just creation of the mind. Being is really all there is.
We do this with almost everything in life. We take things personal, but they are not, we are just making them that way or at least the mind is. When we have conflict in relationships, we view the other as the problem. When we have pain or symptoms in the body, we view it as the problem. When we don’t have money, we view it at the problem. We are unaware that we are resisting all these things. Resistance is the suffering. Suffering is unconsciously what we all are trying to avoid (another form of resistance).
What would happen if we took radical responsibility for how we were experiencing everything? What would happen if we noticed things mindfully? What would happen if we stopped blaming everything “out there” and started radically seeing “in here” what was going on? What if we surrendered the mind completely (thoughts, emotions, physical body) and let the essence of what we are radiate Presence into itself? How would we experience everything at that point?
I still don’t prefer the cold weather, but this experience allowed me to realize that I was perpetuating suffering by how I choose to experience the cold. I can have no tension and can embrace the cold with love, realizing that it is only going to appear how I choose to experience it. Or I can continue to have tension, but be present with it. Beyond mind is just simply accepting things as they are – perfect, whole and complete. Be here now. When we are here now, more love and joy can be experienced, rather than tension and hatred. This simple experience was a radical shift for me.