This past weekend, snow fell in my area. I’m not the biggest fan of snow because I’m not the biggest fan of cold weather (even though I love a scarf.) Another reason I dislike snow is its ability to stop everything. The area rushed to the grocery store as if it was the End of Days. People kid about the pre-snow antics, but in an area where snow and ice weren’t a yearly occurrence as it is now (thank you climate change), I understand wanting to feel you have everything in house so not to have to go anywhere until the roads are clear. But there is a beautiful thing snow brings, stillness.
I once used winter and snow as a metaphor for the hopelessness that comes from being awake and aware (check out Snowflake on my Tongue). That snow comes looking soft and peaceful, but in reality, it’s dangerous and deadly. People still go out into the world, feeling strong about their vehicles ability to defy the will of Mother Nature, only to get stuck, spin out into power lines, or the ultimate worse result. I just don’t see the point, but I do see the beauty in this deadly seasonal annoyance. I see what being stuck in the house, surrounded by an ice protective wall can offer us if optimism and awareness are our primary use for our eyes and mind.
I woke up Saturday morning looking to see if the weatherman was right. I opened my window to see the snow continuing to fall and my world covered. No one else was up, and it was calm. The world was calm and still. I felt like there weren’t any worries at that moment and a sense of peace, even though I knew this was just a small moment and a thought that didn’t stop violence and Samsara in the world. Still, I felt well still, or I should say I felt good about the stillness that was present and available to me. I was able to just be, but I also saw out my tiny window the world in stillness. It was beautiful. It was what I needed to get moving.
A daily practice of modern Buddhist is to meditate. For non-Buddhist, it’s now a practice for stress relief, to aid in mental conditions and physical ailments. Meditation ranges in just being still from insight meditation, which you look inward for answers to a specific question or area that you are wanting relief from. I practice more insight meditation but this time I went more Zen and just was still. It was still out my window and I wanted to find that same stillness within, even for a moment. What I gained after that stillness was movement. I have since been very motivated and more deliberate than I have in a few months, all from a moment (well 15 minutes) of stillness.
Meditation isn’t easy but it’s not hard. The hardest part is forgiving yourself when the mind does what we have trained it to do; think and wonder. The mind is luckily able to change and learn. We can train the mind to be still with practice so don’t be discouraged and sit down. That is something I love about Zen Buddhism, even though I practice more Theravada; Zen helps to clear a lot of mess out of your mind. It asks you truly to just BE which is very nice. I also love all the Zen slogans and T-shirts I see on Facebook like chill, it’s only Zen.
As someone who believes everything happens for a reason, I saw this moment of stillness as the Universe deliberately asking us to chill a minute.
I really wonder how many of my neighbors and friends just sat there and listen to the quiet. Who just existed instead of complaining their party was canceled, or they had to be stuck inside the house all day? How many went online to share their grievance? I sat for 15 minutes, and again for 15 later that day, and another the next day. I was still as Mother Nature asked me to be and I am better for it.
Don’t be afraid of the quiet. Don’t be afraid of the calm. A moment of stillness can bring untold joy and activity to your life.