So it was cold and raining yesterday. Nevertheless I went into the forest from 3 until sundown.
It started out cold, then while I was getting ready to go it started raining and didn't stop for the rest of the day. I thought about avoiding the rain, and just staying in and mediating at home, but then the neighbour started with the bass music thumping through the walls. That settled it, I had to get out there. Then I realized if it's raining, even less people will be out in the forest today!
To say "cold" or "raining" is all relative. On a really cold day in winter here it could be 20 below zero, and for some places in the world forty below is just another day. And the rain... it was wet out, but it wasn't one of those torrential downpours we get with thunder and lighting... it comparison it was just a light rain. Meditating helps me realize just how much conditions for happiness are relative. Perhaps someone can find the right words to express this philosophy better than I... Maybe it's similar to how the teachings say that samsara and nirvana are the same?
A little cold and rain is too much for some people, so they feel miserable outdoors & complaining the whole time. And others never dare venture out into it. But I find if I'm prepared, I feel great! Regardless, I didn't see anyone else there and I found perfect solitude. There was only the sounds of the rain on the trees and a few wild birds. Softly in the far distance you could hear the flow of the highway traffic.
I was happy I brought a light waterproof jacket and rain pants to wear over top. Under this I wore a fleece jacket and a synthetic base layer top and legs. I was warm and dry the whole time, except for my feet where water had seeped into my old leather boots somehow. But the marino wool socks stayed warm even when wet. I've learned to not wearing anything made of cotton in the cold (it stays wet and cold).
After wandering for a couple hours I was pleased to discover a wonderful spot away from the trail that was a beautiful grassy edge of the lake among the trees. I strung up a tarp to keep the rain off me. I snacked on a chocolate protein bar to boost my low energy. I strung up a hammock to sit on under the tarp. I carried a thermos of hot water to make some green tea with honey. After snacking I sat and rested, taking in the beauty of my surroundings. I returned to the car before sundown.
I've been exploring this wild conservation land around the lake for several years, trying understand it better. The area is about few kilometes of wild forest & wetlands along the edge of a lake with a handful of cabins or homes at either end. I look at the Google satellite maps and carry my GPS. It's intentionally not well marked or easy to access so as to preserve it.
I can see the 'clinging and attachment' I have to this idea of being outside. I can see how much of my thoughts, time and energy are focused on this. Perhaps I'm craving some adventure outside my normal routine and feeling I need to seize the day and do something interesting or *fun* weekend. LOL I can't wait to be alone, cold and wet in the forest!
Not everyone's idea of a good time.
But I see it as skills for survival, and a great way to get fresh air and exercise. During the summertime, it's so simple and easy to just walk outside with the shorts and shirt you are wearing and 'live outdoors'. When I meditate indoors during the summer, it's obvious to me how easily I can meditate in nature. During the cold seasons, it takes a little more preparation to live outdoors. Yes, it would have been much simpler to have sat on my meditation cushions at home. And today I've piles of wet outdoor gear sitting on the floor I need to dry and put away.
@PadmaVonSamba I agree that the cold seasons are even better with the lack of bugs! I used to think that the *only* time for outdoor adventure was summertime. How wrong I was!
Thanks for your great suggestions. I love your garbage bag wrapped blanket - simple and effective.
I will work towards these advanced practices of preserving and visualizing heat. Your three day sit during a January is admirable! It reminds me of the film I watched of advanced Zen monks who perform Zazen through the night in the dark and cold with steam coming from their mouths.