I love winter. This has not always been the case. I lived the first part of my adult life disliking winter. I would start to complain as the last of the leaves were raked up and put into the compost pile. I would complain about how cold my bed was when I got in at night and how cold my room was in the morning. I cussed under my breath while clearing my windshield of snow after a quick run into the supermarket. I told animated stories highlighting my struggle to drive while adorned with my layers of winter gear. 

 

Complaining about winter became my favorite pastime. I was miserable and cold from early December through the end of March, and I did not hesitate to engage anyone I met in conversation about just how much winter sucked. My family planned winter vacations in warmer locations and I would engage strangers on the beach to express my dislike for northern winters, hoping they would agree so we could commiserate. I was very happy in my unhappiness, and no one could convince me to change my thoughts on the struggle of winter. 

 

Around the Christmas of 1995 or 1996, gratitude became the theme. I am sure this theme was sparked by something Oprah Winfrey wrote or had on her show since she was often focused on mindful living and gratitude.  A close friend gave me the book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It was a pretty pink, hardcover book. The author had thoughtfully laid it out as a yearly planner filled with daily inspirational quotes, journal prompts, and space dedicated to gratitude, naturally. It was designed so you could start anywhere, any day. I endeavored to complete the book, to read it, and write in it every day of the coming year. This would be my year of gratitude. I purchased a new pen. I placed the book on my nightstand. I looked at the book every night for six months before finally putting it on the shelf, having never written a word. The book did, however, change my life. I did not write down the many things that brought me joy, but every night, while looking at the book on the shelf, I quietly acknowledged all the beauty and joy present in my life. How beautiful the snowfall was at night when illuminated by the outside lights. How quiet the world was when snow blanketed the ground. How beautiful the birds looked against the stark winter backdrop. That book shifted my perspective, not just on winter, but on every season of my life. 

 

Gratitude and mindfulness are complementary. When I focus mindfully on gratitude it opens up space for me to have emotions about the weather, or a season, and accept them, not get stuck in them. I still do not like being cold, but I am grateful for the blanket that brings me warmth. I would like to offer you a short mindful meditation on gratitude for winter. I hope that focusing on gratitude and joy will bring you more happiness as it has done for me.

Listen to a guided version of Mindful Meditation for Joy (approximately 4 minutes) here or scroll on for a written version to practice independently. 

Mindful Meditation for Joy 

by Linda Snyder

 

 

 

 

I invite you to find a comfortable space where you can sit or lie down with as much support as you need. You are welcome to close your eyes or keep them open, whichever feels more comfortable for you in this moment.  

{count to 10}

Begin to bring your awareness to your body. 

Notice where your body is making contact with the supports beneath it.

{count to 10}

Notice any sensations in your body. 

{count to 20}

Notice your breath and the way it moves. 

{count to 20}

As you breathe in offer gratitude for the life force entering your body

{count to 5}

As you exhale let go of any tension in your body or mind

{count to 10}

Breathe in gratitude

Exhale tension

{count to 20}

Bring to mind an image or experience from winter that brings you joy or happiness. 

Snow falling

Cuddling up in a soft blanket

A warm drink

An activity you do with friends and family

An activity you do alone

A special winter dinner

Now hold that joyful, happy image or experience in your mind.

{count to 20}

Now notice where you feel the joy, the happiness

{count to 15}

Now, with the intention of cultivating gratitude repeat silently

{count to 5}

May my happiness continue to grow

{repeat silently}

May my joy continue to grow

{repeat silently

May I appreciate the joy in my life

{repeat silently}

May I appreciate the happiness in my life

{repeat silently}

You may stay in this meditation as long as you wish. 

You may choose to bring another image or experience to mind or you may release your image and begin to bring awareness to any sounds in your environment, sensations in your body. 

In your own time, choose when you would like to open your eyes or lift your gaze and look around your space.

May your joy and happiness continue to grow.

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