I’ve had a strange morning routine over the last couple of months. With temps in the morning just below 30 degrees, I’ll step outside, sans shirt and shoes, and let myself feel the cold on my body. I’ll do a few stretches and listen politely to my mind in its weak protest to what it perceives to be an injustice. In most situations it’s the mind that is the weak link. My body is more than capable of acclimating to various climates if I let it and even if I were out here completely nude, it would take a long time before my body began to suffer. My mind on the other hand likes to think it is suffering when it really isn’t. Perception is a very strong element to our mental frame work, but it is firmly rooted in experience itself. The two can’t be separated. For example, what if a lifetime of experience has taught me that comfort is only to be found within a certain temperature range? That every artificial environment I have found myself in, home, work, school, grocery store, automobile, etc. has caused me to perceive temperature fluctuations outside those of controlled zones to be interpreted as uncomfortable. So, my little morning rituals may seem not so strange when you see that I’m merely attempting to change my minds perception by small shifts and to enjoy the experience of coldness when it often avoided. Who am I kidding, it’s still a little strange. 🙂
As interesting as I find the interplay between perception and experience to be, it’s not the topic of today’s post, but it is related. Let me share another little observation I’ve had recently.
While walking the other morning I was enjoying the crisp air filling my lungs, watching the south eastern sunrise proclaim the start of a new day and listening to the various birds serenading me on my morning walk. It was 30 degrees when I left the house and I was traveling light. I had on a pair of thermal underwear, sweatpants and two long sleeve shirts as well as a toboggan to keep this bald head warm! A modest dress for the weather, but I knew that if I were to get cold I could increase my pace or do a sprint to increase my inner temperature. I felt the cold embrace my exposed skin and the slight tingle in my fingers and toes. Although not uncomfortable, I thought how much I was looking forward to spring and the warmth that comes with it. Almost immediately I was hit with another thought; what if this is your last winter? What if this south eastern sunrise is the last one you will ever see? What if these leafless tress and the birds you can see perching on them are the last to ever be witnessed by your consciousness? What if the cold on your skin is the last to be felt? The cold air filling your lungs never to fill these lungs again? What if this is your last winter?
An immediate transformation occurred in my mindset. No loner was I wishing for warmer temps or looking forward to an unknown future, but instead grounded in the here and now; this moment of winter and all that comes with it was all that mattered. I’m not alone in this, that much I know for sure. Who hasn’t, in the cold of winter wished for warmer days and in the same year in the hot of summer wished for cooler temps? And so a wishing away of the precious moments that make up our lives, all while failing to notice the beauty of those moments too often passing us by unnoticed. If you really want to know how to enjoy life, think it terms of its limits and how you too are limited in the time given to appreciate it. Most likely, if you’re open to the experience, your perception will change and sometimes all it takes is a shift in perception to make life much more enjoyable.