Mindful Nature In My Mukluks

by Milissa on December 4, 2011

in Animal Medicine,Health,Mindful Nature,Mindfulness,Nature,Seasons,Trees

mindfulIf I told you I don’t miss getting out and communing with nature, now that the weather is cold and blustery, I’d be lying. In fact, this week I felt myself teetering on the edge of seasonal downheartedness. When I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d walked by the river gorge, I was pretty sure what my problem was. Too much time spent indoors. I was overdue for some Mindful Nature practice.

Even though I had the sniffles. Even though the house needed cleaning. Even though my mind was full of but-I need-tos. Even though it was cold and grey and uninviting outside, I just had to get out.

You’ve heard the adage: There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. I would also add a bad attitude and bad footwear.

So, first, I adjusted my attitude. A big part of that was getting back into the moment. Because I’d had a head full of congestion for two days, I was buying into the story that I was “sick,” and that it would take a long time to feel better.

How did I make the shift from fixating on fears from the past and worries about the future? Using the same mindfulness tools that helped me get through chronic fatigue, massive migraines and the myriad mood swings of menopause: by breathing into the moment, noticing sensations and thoughts, and holding myself in compassion. I shifted pretty quickly (thanks to years of practice) and could begin to relish—instead of dread—the dreary early December day.

Just making the decision to get out helped my blues. I knew I would feel more energized and uplifted if I got out there with the trees, mindful of the earth under my feet—so, even though it would have been easy to let the short day get away from me—I committed to my plan to take a mindful walk with the dog at Giggly Hills during daylight.

I just needed to bundle up. Which brings me to footwear. I pulled on my Steger Mukluks* (even though the snow hadn’t started yet). With their flexible rubber bottoms, I can feel the contours of the Earth as I walk. And that always brings me back to mindfulness of how grateful I am that I’m present here on the Earth: yes, yes, yes, yes…thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I take this moving mantra out of my back pocket, (thank you Thich Nhat Hanh!), and am in the moment, and grateful for whatever it brings.

Whether I’m mindfully placing my feet on the concrete sidewalk and hear chickadees chirp, or I’m hiking on a dirt path in a nature area and spot a fox, it’s all good.

Walking mindfully in mukluks is so much better on the ground than on concrete or asphalt though. And better yet—it’s heavenly to walk mindfully in fresh snow! Really, there’s a winged heel feeling. A sense of floating along, appreciating (even if for a short time if it’s bitterly cold) the stillness, the brightness, the hush. And not disturbing it. Transcendence and interconnection!

So, despite the hassles of snow, I actually look forward to my MIndful Nature practice in the winter. But the only way I get those lovely feelings is by making it a practice to mindfully appreciate the Beauty Moments—sometimes out the window where Clio sparkles in her snow coat, sometimes outdoors with snowflakes brushing my eyelashes. It can be harder to make it happen, with the weather so unpredictable and daylight hours diminishing. But the payoffs are great!

* A note on the mukluks. Yes, they’re pricy, but I got my Stegers on a seconds clearance sale for about half price over a decade ago. Worth a trip to Ely! Or, there’s always Ebay, but be sure to get off the computer and get outside too.

It’s possible to practice Interconnection with nature indoors as well. Since we can’t linger outdoors, we do what the animals teach us. To hunker down and let the Earth hold us through the long, dark nights. Come join me in the cozy studio for Restorative Solstice Eve, December 20. An evening of mindful, supported yoga practice, and some healthful treats!

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