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Making Peace with Winter

Posted by Joan Zabelka on February 28, 2014 at 1:15 AM

How do we make "peace" with the winter we are experiencing this year in the Midwest?

   This winter has pushed buttons on most everyone, including those who profess a love for winter. Naturally, if life is not going well for you, then the challenges the snow and cold offer only add to the stress. Someone touting "positive thoughts" at this point might end up with the flat end of a shovel across her pretty, little face. That's why I'm writing this at a safe distance from you.

   We need to make peace for a variety of reasons - our health and our sanity are uppermost.

   The first thing we have to realize is we can't do a thing about the weather. Complaining won't change it. Griping about it does not release tension, it builds it. Frustration grows, our emotions flare as we share our aggravation with others. The negative energy builds as others join in on the grumbling. We really do need to focus on the good things that come out of bad circumstances. If you can't find any good, then BE the good others will talk about.

   I have heard stories of neighbors checking on neighbors. Shoveling brigades going up and down the block helping each other out from under the foot of snow a plow dumped on the line of parked cars. Who doesn't love leaving work only to find a co-worker has cleaned off your car? Be the reason someone smiles this winter. Send the message to "pay it forward." Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

   Finding a way to bring peace into your private, inner world is the quickest way to begin to bring peace to your outer world. Mother Nature sends all sorts of plants and animals to sleep during winter. Hibernation is natural. The schedule humans setup for themselves is not. I truly believe some hibernation is necessary and healthy for all of us.

   Hibernation is a time to go doors and inside our self. Summer is a time for out doors, but when the heat gets oppressive then we should naturally slow down. Most of us don't due to air conditioning. We spend too much time fighting nature instead of going with the flow of nature. Trusting how ever it shows up, it is just what we need.

   Do something each day to soothe yourself or treat yourself. Find a way to do something as simple as sitting down to escape through a book, buy some special tea to warm you up after another round of shoveling, relax sore muscles under a longer hot shower. Eat comfort food without guilt after all that aerobic exercise of moving thousands of snowflakes. Do it all without guilt; do it for the pleasure of doing it. Feel good and smile.

   One way to feel good is to meditate or to just sit quietly and enjoy the quiet. Sitting quietly and noticing your breath is a good way to begin. Allowing thoughts to pass through, but not to linger is the secret. You can start off doing just two minutes at a time and expand it incrementally every couple of days until you can easily do a 20 minute meditation. Relaxing with a guided meditation from a CD is another choice.

   Meditation reduces stress and anxiety. We train our self to notice troubling thoughts that pass through our minds, but we don't allow them to anchor there. We release them and let them go. Meditation practices vary from complete absence of thoughts to a relaxing guided beach meditation. It's not the kind, but the regularity of the meditation practice that's important.

   As we get comfortable with meditation, we can begin to explore other methods of self-discovery. Isolated and insulated, we can make peace with winter and use this opportunity to know ourselves a bit more. We observe what makes us mad (the weather forecast for this weekend and next) and what makes us happy. We notice what we have control over and what we don't. About all we have control over is our attitude according to experts.

   Walk away from the water cooler weather chatter and with enough practice you will find you can walk away from other drama in your life. Be the reason someone smiles despite the bitter cold, and you will find you are the reason someone smiles in all sorts of weather. Calm your mind and release your worries and you will soon be singing, "Don't Worry, be Happy" to strangers on the street. Someone will video tape you doing this. It will go viral and you will be famous for 20 minutes...anything is possible!

   Make peace with this winter and you can make peace in most any situation that arises down the road. It just takes practice. Look at how good you've gotten at shoveling. Practice makes perfect! 

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