Updated: Jun 9, 2021
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Mindfulness- Part One
There’s a change taking place inside my head. I have to admit it.
It looked like it was snowing little flakes of diamonds as the shimmering ice particles were swept about in the intense morning sunshine. It was mesmerizing, stunningly beautiful, and I stared at this spectacle for several minutes. I couldn’t look away. The bare tree branches looked as though they had been wrapped in some sort of white cellophane. A tiny wee bird grabbed my attention as it flitted from perch to perch and I couldn’t help but be amazed, wondering how in the world it survived the frigid night without freezing solid. I felt inspired and excited to get out there, to leave the warmth and comfort of my sofa.
Now I should say here that I’ve been walking almost every day, jogging never really stuck, for decades, except in the dead of winter. Yet the beauty of this specific morning was extraordinary. So, with my creaky, clicking knees improved after a three day pause, cold or not, I was determined to go out. I had made myself a promise that I’d go for my wee adventure every day this winter especially this year as long as the sidewalks were bare. Newly motivated, I dawned my heaviest apparel, layer upon layer, and away I went complete with hat, scarf, both gloves and mittens. I used to call my daily jaunt simply my “prayer walk” but lately with covid they have become my “praise and mental health walk”.
The first thing I did as I set out was to recite the Lord’s Prayer customizing it with personal pronouns. Next I’d like to say I listed in specific detail all the things I am thankful for, but, actually I didn’t. Still I do believe that my deepest gratitude should be expressed first because going to God should not be like going to the grocery store with my shopping list. I don’t want to be the young child who runs to Poppa with all her wants. I’m afraid I’m still working on this. But my heavenly Father gets me. He loves me anyway. The urgency of some folk’s situations simply overwhelm and overtake me and to be honest, I often fail at putting my gratitude first, and instead go right into who needs what. On this particular morning this is exactly what I did.
My walks are busy in more ways than one. On this exceptional day, the beauty was indeed astounding. Slowly and intentionally, one by one, I focused on my surroundings. The sun was very bright. The dazzling snow crystals not only bounced off the trees but also off the snow itself making it an absolutely delightful feast for the eyes and mind. Even though it was almost blinding at times, it was simultaneously gorgeous making everything appear so clean and sparkling from the recent snowfall. Stopping for just a moment, I gazed in wonder at the twinkling snow around me. I could once again hear the birds singing close by. This seemed rather unusual for mid-winter. Did they forget to fly south, yet one more extraordinary thing in this extraordinary year? Otherwise, I noticed that winter silence I love that comes following a new snow, that silence that wraps your ears and mind in insulation. Although best felt in a deep woods, that close silence was palpable on my neighborhood streets as I marched along. Speed was not at all important. Eventually I heard snow blowers off in the distance and the approach of two men as their crunching footsteps drowned out their chatter. I heard my own crackling steps on the almost bare sidewalks as I frequently looked down to avoid the patches of ice. Everything around me seemed to take on a sharpness, a fragile brittleness vulnerable each new day to the rise or fall of temperature. This familiar residential area was very still with almost everyone cloistered inside their homes. Yet when I strained to hear, with the corner of my hat lifted a bit, I did notice vehicles on the busy street over a few blocks away. To be bereft of any smells, unlike during the other 3 seasons, seemed oddly refreshing. The sun’s warmth caressed my left cheek as if a loving hand had been put to my face, while on the right one the sharp wind bit reminding me that I could and should draw my scarf up over my nose. I tasted the freshness of the cold air as I opened my mouth to draw in deep breaths over my Sensodyne protected teeth. I tried to concentrate further on my deep breathing but it was too hard on such a cold day with my face now covered.
Yes I was very busy with all of this so much so that my mind was decluttered of all else as the 45 minutes passed beneath my feet. This was my meditation, my center. I felt refocused, content that I’d managed all my woes for today feeling that extreme bottom-of-my heart gratitude I hadn’t started out with as planned. I felt liberated as I realized that I had given all my cares to my Heavenly Father…and could now simply rest assured in His love for me. The stillness had come. My heart was quiet again.
My mind had found its place of safe release and I savoured it as I approached my home. Yes, not many other adventurers were out today I noted to myself. Too cold I guess. But finally I met a lady slowly walking, cajoling really, her wee dog. I greeted the lady, and then her pet, because the dog had stopped dead in her tracks and was staring at me as if to ask, “what, am I invisible?”
“Is she a pug?” I asked. “My granddaughter loves pugs.”
“Yes, she is,” the lady replied. “They are so great with children. But she is old and this is hard for her. She’d rather stay warm inside.”
“What’s her name,” I asked.
“Turtle”, she said. It seemed fitting.
“Wow, I had a dog named Turtle too a very long time ago.”
We smiled at each other and walked on.
Yes, I can feel a transformation occurring. A season I had grown to loath so much over the years has this winter been such a blessing to me-my saving grace really. I can put the freezing temps aside. This is a big deal to me because come every November I would longingly yearn to go somewhere warm and green and lush. So I’m delighted that I once again relish the incredible winter beauty around me like that young girl inside used to so long ago… and not just from my sofa. Yes, I can put the cold aside. I never would have believed it! Change your mindset, change your world!