The Renewing Lessons of Late Winter

The beginning of March is always a challenge to my mindfulness practice. I notice my body protesting these cold and dark days and longing to nest and hibernate. I also notice that if I am not careful, this inward momentum can easily become a lonely escape. Venturing outdoors can become an act of war as I brace myself in defiance of winter’s bitter battalion of cold, snow and ice.

Part of me has already begun leaning toward the thaw and anticipating the crocuses pushing mightily through the snow. The growing strength of the afternoon sun and the miraculous addition of daylight to each evening is a cause for my celebration. Yet winter is still upon us and I’m aware of  wishing my life away for a perceived future when everything is better, easier, and warmer.

Instead of leaning too far forward, my practice this March is to be right here and to plant myself firmly in these days whatever they may bring. I realize that fighting this vigorous season is more exhausting than just being with its strong sensations.

What if we could shift our relationship with the coldest and darkest days of the year? What if these days had a lesson for us to learn that could not be learned in any other season?

If mindfulness has taught me anything in the past 10 years it has been that even the unpleasant experiences of life can be my teacher. Even winter’s insistent cold may yield some insight if I choose to remain open. Perhaps what I resist can have the unique power to teach and shape my heart.

I am reminded of a favorite poem that has helped me to reframe how I’d like to approach this time of year. May you find in these words a new way to be present amid a persistent and sometimes challenging wintertime.

Enjoying the Forgiving Stillness of Snow

We all need the forgiving stillness that snow brings;
the wonder, the rounding of the sharp edges, the time to think.
Maybe a layer of snow would smother a fanatic’s fire.
Maybe a blanket of white would comfort the grief of the wounded.
Maybe the snow’s sparkle would bring hope to a child.

-Susan Lenfestey

In peace,

Dr. Brandon Nappi

Dr. Brandon Nappi, founder and executive director at the Copper Beech Institute and the associate director at Holy Family Passionist Retreat Center, is a spiritual teacher, speaker, and writer who passionately believes in the capacity of the human spirit to awaken. Inspired by the common wisdom of the world’s spiritual traditions, he has dedicated his life’s work to sharing the transformative power of mindfulness practice. Brandon is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and has completed a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Aquinas Institute of Theology and has received extensive mindfulness training from the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Mindfulness founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

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