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By Jared Rogers Jared Rogers is an Exercise Physiologist & Personal Trainer at the Duke Center for Living at Fearrington.

Warmth In The Darkest Nights

By Jared Rogers Posted December 31, 2013 at 6:00 am

Warmth is golden.

A warm breeze gently kisses my cheek as I step out of the front door. I feel it first: it is comforting and inclusive. I smell it second: it smells fresh and dense. Next, I hear it. Warmth opens up silence internally, allowing a world of soothing sounds to be registered within the mind. Thoughts immediately quiet down as attention is drawn to the pleasure of warmth. Once thoughts are quiet, I experience presence. I hear the birds chirping to one another in the distance. I hear children gabbing and playing in a nearby yard. I hear motor vehicles whirring down the surrounding streets. Finally, with rumination ceased and senses tuned into the world, my eyes see warmth too. They wander and simply observe the birds flying from tree to tree, the airplanes flying high above in the sky, and the wind calmly coursing through the tree limbs that sway fluidly to and fro.

57921192_fa5351fb1e_oWarmth brings me into the moment; it illuminates life as it truly is. What I think life is or is about is but a fleeting thought, an impermanent feeling, or a temporary emotion. Too much time is spent in my own head. My thoughts plan the future, fish the past, or fixate on what there is “to do” on the list. All of my senses then become focused on tasks. My attention becomes systematic – everything turned off, door locked, car unlocked, seat belt on, activate the ignition, and so on. No wonder I have the tendency to become so rushed and single-minded during the day.

Warmth creates space:

  •  Space for my mind to open up to new ideas, opportunities, and opposing views
  •  Space that allows me to listen thoughtfully with both ears
  • Space that reminds me to speak carefully and choose compassionate and meaningful words over hurtful or negative words
  • Space to relax, where observation takes precedence over task completion and event time trumps clock time
  • Space to be free; to exhale the stressors wound up so tightly within my chest and inhale the refreshing, life-giving air my body begs for

 

Warmth is certainly all of this to me, but its true essence cannot simply be put into words. Warmth has brought a deep sense of joy for longer than my mind recalls. My attraction to it must be built into my genome. Defining warmth within the confines of mere words is like trying to explain being in love – words provide a degree of insight into the subject, but ultimately such things are boundless. I will enjoy warmth when I am fortunate enough to experience it and will try to allow it to go as easily as it comes; not grasping, but flowing within it. For without knowing bitter cold, warmth would be meaningless. There are no doubt great lessons to be learned in its absence – lessons that are certainly not as comforting and nourishing as warmth, but necessary and rewarding for a truly fulfilling life.

floating-in-space-skySomeday I hope to find peace within the frigid cold and contentment within the long, dark nights. I imagine being bundled up in warm yet comfortable clothing – from wide, light, and flexible boots to a silky soft hat and scarf. I imagine lying flat on my back on an open deck with my mate huddled up lying right next to me. The setting is pitch black and snow covers the earth. It is so cold the dry air burns my throat with each inhalation. Aside from a gentle breeze causing the tips of the evergreens to lightly sway, all is silent. It is so silent that I am aware of my own heartbeat and intimately feel the expansion and contraction of my lungs. I imagine gazing up at the stars and the crescent moon and simply allowing my mind to attempt the comprehension of such a sight – that of a thousand suns twinkling, tiny specks of light projected from millions of miles away. I vaguely try to piece together some of the constellations, while discovering unnamed shapes and patterns as well. I imagine this moment to be enough: a moment in which I am not longing for the satiation of warmth. A moment of peace in a place I have tied to despondency for as long as I can remember.

Such a mindset of contentment through the cold days is not unfathomable, though seemingly unnatural for me. It is simply a mindset, one I can learn with practice and patience. As we continue through the coldest days of the year I will remember warmth, praise it when it happens to visit, and work to cultivate a positive relationship with its opposite as well. I cannot control the forces of nature, but I do hold the power of choice to live in peace among them.

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