Skip to main content

Yoga for Chilly Travelers

Several times I have attempted -- and pretty much failed -- to convince readers of the value of surviving winter without a furnace. Very well then... one more try and then I'll quit. I'll be a good sport by consigning the readers to the fleeting shadows of perpetual unenlightenment.

The time for 'glory' was running out for this winter. A new warming trend was starting today. Just in the nick of time, the temperature inside my trailer went below freezing -- a magical place that can seem unattainable. (Once again, compare this to the beginning of the movie, "The Right Stuff," when the Air Force was trying to break the sound barrier.) I celebrated the occasion by heating water and putting it in the flexible water bladder (Platypus brand), and then inserting it under my parka.

But the real moment of enlightenment occurred yesterday. For a couple nights I had been sleeping in my insulated bib overalls. In the morning I simply got out of bed, threw the parka over the top of the bibs, flapped my arms, and made a cup of hot coffee.

How a person can hunger for the morning sun to finally clear the trees and hit the meadow and the trailer! I pushed myself away from the silly desk and internet to walk around in the first few moments of glorious sunlight, while my dog chased her detested ravens, nearby. 

The bib overalls were left on for most of the day. Several times I walked in the sunny meadow. It was almost becoming a ritualistic dance. Eventually I felt what must be similar to the experience of religious mystics. 

I had stopped bracing myself against the cold. I was at peace with it. I seemed to expand into the sunny meadow, no longer being able to tell where "I" left off and the sunny meadow began.

It seems contradictory to not have a high opinion of religious mystics if I value my own experience so much, and if the two experiences are so similar psychologically. Was my experience more 'real' or more 'natural' than the mystics?

Perhaps it is because it seems untruthful and unhealthy to visualize human experience as if it were nothing but psychology. It seems more balanced, real, and sane to watch the interplay between mere internal sentimentalism and the outside world of physical and biological reality. The internal needs the external to be validated.

But, you argue, people practicing yoga are using a physiological discipline to induce their psychological experience. Isn't my experience just a type of yoga?

You could think of it that way. I have thought the same thing of bicycling several times.


edlfrey said…
I have reached that "psychological experience" while bicycling but never when confronting the cold. Perhaps you have discovered the Zen of Zero.
Well, zero Celsius, not Fahrenheit!
Bon vivant said…
I've often wondered if the Buddhists who sit under waterfalls in winter use the same techniques.
I wish I knew more about Buddhism, but every time I look for a classic book on the subject, something goes wrong. I won't read any book on it that is enslaved to the Hippie era.
Anonymous said…
Have your ever thought you might be overthinking this "let's set a new low overnight temperature in the trailer" obsession?

What else do I have to do with my time besides over-think things?!
Bon vivant said…
Well depending on your standards that may be your loss. I've about given up on buddha's teachings, at least in sanghas. I've been in several and only found two actual teachers teaching and they were pretty damn boring. The other dissatisfaction that pervades is virtually no historical or contextual exposition. A little here and there but mostly 'what this means to me' BS. I do realize I cannot and shouldn't compare the exegesis of Christian practice sacred writings to that of Buddhist but I try.
It is a blessing to love the cold, for the trend is in and it will continue, so good for your zen. It's quite true, good for you. Just go easier on your fellow travelers who may a bit slower than you.
TomInBellaVista said…
You reminded me of this:
Go easy on them? The blockheads stubbornly resist enlightenment! (grin)
I read the link, Tom. The author is definitely on the path to enlightenment. But needs to stick a hot water bladder in his coat or bed to really succeed!