Mind Weather (written 2014)
In this moment I'm sitting in a warm and softly lit morning kitchen. My hands are wrapped around a favorite mug full of hot tea. And beyond the window the snow has a sugar sparkle under the blue sky. At my feet my curly blonde and beloved dog lies waiting patiently, hoping, no doubt, that I'll share just a bit more of my breakfast banana.
A moment ago my husband turned on the radio, anticipating morning news, and my preferred silence was broken. I've been breathing gently, watching the aversion arise, working not to bother the music, not to reach for the sound, staying with the breath and the peace that is possible here, no matter what the external situation.So far, so good.
Then I'm hooked by the weather forecast and let my attention move out to gather this bit of information. It drops like a small pebble into a still pool. Ah! Today lovely. But later in the week, heavy snow predicted. Later in the week. Later in the week I have scheduled travel to the city.
The external present moment is perfect. But my mind is not here. Spinning into apprehension, amorphous memories of nasty drives, vague anticipation of a nasty future. This moment holds the flavor of tea, the bright day, the warm breath of the dog on my stockinged toes. Yet, my mind holds fear.
But mindfulness is not just about being present with what is pleasant, what is easy to be with. It's about being here with what is, no matter what that is. And I know what's required. Back into the body. This moment in the body, the tea tastes a little different, colored by the metallic bite of anxiety; there's a closed feeling in my throat, just at the soft hollow above the collar bone, and a tiny ripple of tension in my shoulders. What was an easy posture a moment before has changed. This is also the way things are. Never staying the same. Moving like a river. And if I watch these unpleasant feelings now, don't clench my mind around them, they will change too. Just know them, watch them.
There are two things I can do that will give them longer life. I can let the amorphous memories and vague anticipation become the skeleton of a detailed plot; I can spin a story. This will take very little effort. All I have to do is believe the fear, which my mind will willingly do. Believe the fear and hug it close. See it as real and present. The habit of thought will take over, composing stories of disaster and danger. Been there, done that. Or I can deny that I'm feeling fear. Call myself a woose for the momentary shivers, clamp down on the mind, force the images into a box and close the lid. They'll wriggle and bounce around in there and break through periodically for who knows how long. And I'll keep pushing them back and sitting on the lid. These are both ways of losing this moment and many more to come. Ways of adding to the suffering that arose spontaneously when I heard the weather report.
So, what would be skillful? I picture the mind as an open hand. This is almost habitual now when the unpleasant arises. I notice the fear. I understand it is a form of aversion, of not wanting what the future may hold, of moving out of this moment now. Then I let it be. Yes, this is fear. I've had a lot of experience with this particular variety. Who hasn't who knows Alberta winters? But the moment holds more than this fear. It holds the safety that surrounds me right now. My reliable breath. The dog, the tea, the blue sky. It's a mixed bag and in my body I can trace it all. Getting out of my head, I let go of the reactivity that might close up or push away. I get back in touch with what is, and leave alone the mights and maybes. I quit “believing” my thoughts.
I might have to repeat this trip a lot today...head to body, head to body, but the trip to the city will only happen once, when I'm well prepared with winter gear and warm clothes and on the road.