Snow Weekend in Portland- A practice in mindfulness
It can be a very interesting occurence when snow actually sticks in moderate quantities in Portland, Oregon. Because it happens every 2-3 years or so and only stays around for about a week, the city has not invested in many snow plows and most cars are without chains. So this past weekend when it snowed for many days (including some freezing rain), the city basically shut down. Facebook was a buzz with pictures, comments, complaints and ranting.
My initial reaction to the white haze was " Dang it, now I can't get anywhere and I need to cancel my plans". I was feeling frusterated, annoyed and snippy. Then I took some breaths and looked out the window. I saw the snow through the eyes of a child instead of the eyes of an adult. I became fascinated by the accumulation on the grass and street, grey and brown covered in a blanket of white. My anxiety and worry shifted to feelings of joy and excitement. I reveled in the beauty, caught up in the moment and took a pause from thoughts of responsibility.
As in the skill beginner's mind, the ability to look at something as it is, I took a moment to see the snow as snow. I used my sense of sight to ground myself in the moment and separate from my thoughts. Noticing the intricacies of falling snow, changing colors, bursts of white swirling and blowing. The weather is going to be, no matter what I think, feel or do. I have no control of the weather, but I do have control over how I allow it to affect my emotions and actions. The practice of mindfulness influenced my ability to shift my interpretation of the weather and my experience for the rest of the weekend.
After that initial couple minutes of annoyance the rest of the weekend was enjoyable. I sat down, re-scheduled clients and strategized alternative routes and modes of transportation to the hospital for birthing mothers. Trudging through the snow between buses and the max to return home after a morning birth I took pictures and laughed at the chaos of nature. I played in the snow, rested and settled in the opportunity that the weather gave me. A moment to pause as a city slows for the unpredictable moments in life.