Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to beat the heat, Buddhist-style.

It’s late July, and it’s hot. Sing along now -- Real Hot. In the Shade. I’m dripping sweat onto my zabuton as I meditate. I try to find the stillness under the sweat, to let the heat be like a fever dream, to not get attached to the idea that I would be happier if the weather were cooler.

I am not miserable. I’m good. The weather is not miserable. It is the weather. Yet somehow being bathed in sweat is less than pleasant.

I need some help here:

One summer when I was teaching at Shambhala Mountain Center, we had an incredible heat wave. In the midst of it, my uncle Damcho Rinpoche, my cousin Karma Sengay Rinpoche, and two monks arrived on their first trip out of Tibet. Day and Night they wore the same heavy clothes, the Tibetan equivalent of a woolen suit. At one point, I asked Damcho Rinpoche, “Don’t you feel hot?” He answered, “Well, apart from the feeling of heat, I am okay.” I understood him to be saying, “There’s this feeling, and I could be attached to it or I could not be attached to it. If I were attached to it, then how would my life be? I would be taking off or putting on clothes all day long, spending most of my time trying to get comfortable. Instead, I could just sit here and enjoy what is happening.” So that is what he was doing. “People are always saying, “I’m happy to be here,” but he really meant it. That’s equanimity. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Last night, I was lying on my bed, bathed in sweat from the searing heat. At a certain point, the ordinary discomfort turned into blazing hot flashes across my entire body. Everywhere was running water – my forehead, my neck, my legs. …Lying there I became utterly intolerant of my experience, and before I knew it I was defiantly standing, almost expecting I would encounter an enemy lurking. As if catching myself in a mirror, I stopped and looked at what was happening inside of me – the raging heat as well as the familiarity of discontent. As my attention dropped down and in, I simply felt the firm ground under my feet, sticky sweat pouring down my belly, and the heavy warm air all around me. Without planning it, I had dropped into awareness of sensations, the First Foundation of Mindfulness.

As I simply watched all this, I became aware my angst had effortlessly slipped away and I was now feeling calm and present. I erupted in laughter at my familiar response to discomfort. … I lay back down noticing that the next experience was no less fiery, yet my inner attitude had shifted. My experience of the sweltering heat had changed simply because my attention had shifted from resistance to observation.” Sarah Powers

In other words, don’t flame the fires of discontent. Be curious about your response to the heat, both mental and physical.

You might as well meditate. Experts recommend that you renounce strenuous exercise in extreme heat (sitting still works well), drink plenty of fluids, and wear loose, light-colored clothing. Seek out air-conditioning if the heat is affecting your physical ability to function. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate you, and strong sunlight.

And listen to music

96 degrees


Meklit hadera


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