Embracing mindfulness on a snow day

When I woke up early on Sunday morning the air was cold and crisp. Being from the prairies, I welcome the cold and even enjoy it much more than most Vancouverites. As I head out for groceries, the cool air feels refreshing and somehow seems to clear my mind.

This winter was a mild one and I was expecting that we might pass into spring without a real taste of winter. I was surprised when later that afternoon I looked out my living room window and saw small snowflakes beginning to fall. As anyone who lives in Vancouver knows, the city goes crazy when it snows here. I had never heard the term “snow day” until I moved to Vancouver as a snow day is a typical winter day for the rest of Canada.  

Once the snow started, I knew that getting around was going to be next to impossible and I had to let go of anything that I had planned for the day. Instead I ended up going for a walk around my neighborhood. Because snow is so rare here, there is something about the snow that feels magical and instantly awakens my inner child. I’m in awe as I watch as the flakes become bigger and more graceful, falling slowly and gently as if in slow motion.

It had only been a few hours since the snow had started but everything was starting to look remarkably different. Almost as if it was a new day entirely.  A blanket of white spread along the sidewalks and the street and was beginning to pile on the tops of cars and along the branches of trees. There was excitement in the air as kids and parents began to fill the streets, bundled in jackets, toques, and mitts and toting their sleds behind them.  Every few blocks I would pass a small slope turned into miniature snow hill. I was aware of the soft crunch of snow under my feet and the cold , wet sensation of flakes hitting my skin, which I welcomed much more than the rain.

I couldn’t help but feel absolutely giddy with delight. Something about the combination of the beauty and stillness combined with the excitement about something so rare and so fleeting makes snow days absolutely magical.  It wasn’t the kind of excitement present on the most important days of our lives but rather a feeling of aliveness. Something both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. And that’s when it dawned on me: mindfulness. On these rare days, we are forced to live in the present moment. Our daily routines and chores momentarily come to a halt. We truly take in the beauty of our surroundings and are present with ourselves and others around us as we let go and allow ourselves to play and embrace our inner child.Whether its a snowball fight, sledding, a walk in the snow, or watching the flakes falling from the coziness of our own place with a cup of tea or coffee, we are present and we are engaged in our lives. For many of this is very rare. I can’t help but to feel alive in these moments.

Anyone who lives in Vancouver knows that at most it will only be couple of days before the temperatures warm up and the winter wonderland around us inevitably turns to slush. But it's this precise awareness that forces us to be present and to give ourselves permission to play and have fun. And it also reminds us that everything will pass. Just like our emotions come and go, this to will pass and will turn into something more routine and monotonous. Of course this is all part of life. I find myself wanting to grasp onto these moments and hold onto them forever. A part of me feels frustrated and disappointed when the day passes just as quickly as any other day. But yet it’s got me thinking about counselling. For many of us the work of counselling is getting  to a point where we can feel some of the magic of a snow day on an ordinary day. When we can feel present and engaged in our lives and aware of the beauty around us. When we can slow down enough to experience our sensations. When we can let go and play and embrace our inner child. When we can feel connected with ourselves and the most important people in our lives. To me and to many clients that I’ve worked with, these are the qualities that make up a fulfilling life.

I’m a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor in Vancouver, BC. I provide counselling for anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and disordered eating and body image. I also specialize in women’s reproductive and perinatal mental health.

Lorilee Keller