Winter is the ideal time for venturing into self-reflection. It is the time for pausing. Everything slows down or comes to a standstill in winter. Winter can be viewed as the ‘death phase’ of the four seasons; it can also be associated with emptiness and non-activity. Emptiness can facilitate releasing. Non-activity facilitates observing. When observing can become pure awareness, it is akin to being outside on a clear and windless winter day,
In society, winter is treated as any other time of the year. All activity is continually ongoing. There is no-stopping. There is no slowing down. In more temperate areas, colder weather and snow dictate how one navigate their environment. People tend to stay indoors, more so, during this time of year. Being less active leaves more time for reflection. Constant activity is antithetical to self-reflection. One should avail themselves of conditions that are conducive to taking a pause.
What happens to a tree in winter. It is a period of dormancy, where plants are ticking over but not growing. It occurs in conjunction with the falling temperatures and reduced day length that winter brings. But this dormancy is much more than a period of suspending animation. It’s part survival mechanism, part housekeeping exercise, all meant to help plants gear up for warmer days ahead. In similar fashion, self-reflection allows one to gear up up for challenges to come.
The reduction of activity during winter is often taken as a period of darkness, a period of death. Spring is (re)birth, summer is maturing, Fall is growing old and winter is death. Mass animal migration to warmer climes, the ‘dying’ of less hardy plants, leaves falling from trees are just some of the more visible indications of death or of measures enacted for its’ being avoided. There is a certain beauty to winter landscapes that offsets the barren emptiness. That emptiness is further complimented by the relative non-activity that is typical of a biome in winter.
The states of non-activity and emptiness, that are associated with winter, can also be applied to states of mind. In Buddhist Canon, emptiness is viewed as a state of vacuity. It is a viewing of mental clutter, not attaching to it and releasing it into the void, into that emptiness. Non-activity is a means employed when observing the release of the mental clutter. Pure Awareness occurs by observing the release of mental clutter in a state of non-activity. Continuity of practice makes Pure Awareness more maintainable in the long term.
Take a walk on a clear winter day or take a stroll through your mind . . . . . .