As winter packs its final punch and in the North we become weary from the “general business” woes of winter, you might find peacefulness by taking a moment to take in and feel a different view of things.
You might choose to notice the many ways the sun sparkles on the snow, creating diamond crystals on teeny branches. Perhaps you may hear the many ways birds sing many songs in winter. You might consider that even with the seemingly never-ending trials of this season, there is beauty. There are blessings, and there is hope.
One of my blessings is to sit daily with people who come to me for help, bringing insight and wisdom, and filling my office with hope. Last week one of my clients shared her thinking about uplifting the spirit.
She suggested that to be uplifted means to refrain from “dark imaginings.” What a marvelous idea, and while not so easy in the midst of stress, is actually fairly simple. The first step is to become aware of that ticker tape narrative that is forever moving through the mind, carrying information, ideas, and random other thoughts that can bring you down or lift you up.
As all of us have, I have had many times of actual difficulty, but you no longer have to be a hostage to your own mind, haunted by various thoughts of disaster, crisis or general bad luck. It does not serve the inner spirit to dredge up catastrophes that have not, and likely will not, happen. Better to look out at the sun getting stronger, the track of a deer in the snow, the fox trotting across the field, or the radiant cardinal at the bird feeder. If you are fortunate enough to be in a warmer clime, perhaps the luxury of blossoming flowers in mid-February, or the sun sparking on sand, or the rain sparkles on hanging moss, will uplift you.
In this way, you can allow the sensations and emotions that arise in the presence of beauty and nature to fill your inner being. When we keep ourselves free of dark imaginings, there is room inside for the spirit of appreciation, for the inner light of gratitude and for the gift of Self-love. Philosophers and spiritual teachers tell us to stay in the moment. Being present to the moment is an antidote to the darkness of worried imaginings. Even during difficult of times, you can bring your awareness to the beauty around you, bring attention to a poem or a saying that inspires you, or become attuned to a fleeting moment of inner peace.
What we choose to focus on is within our control, even though it does not always seem that way. In front of my 300 year old house stands a magnificent old maple tree. I cherish its solidness, its ability to withstand the winds over time, and its courage to weather the changes in the land it inhabits. When I look at it, I feel its strength and come to appreciate that I have my own. Filled with respect and love for my “friend,” my mind becomes as light as the spray of snow from her branches; my mind is cleansed of stress and fear; and my inner spirit is uplifted.