I’ve lived in the Twin Cities for almost 10 years (this time around) and this is the first year that I am the proud owner of a pair of decent, waterproof winter boots. Let it be noted, I wouldn’t have these boots if it wasn’t for a good friend who absolutely insisted that I have them, despite my protestations that I preferred to just hibernate indoors for the next 6 months.

It’s not that I am against boots. I just don’t like being in my body when the temperatures drop. I have been resisting the cold, resisting the tundra, resisting going outside when it turns cold.  I hate every minute of winter and usually just brace myself through it.

Until now.

Today, with new & novel warm boots, I went out for a long walk in the mud-snow-puddles with my dog, and actually enjoyed the woods – even in the cold. My world felt larger. Freer. More Empowered. Less dependent on warm weather to enjoy the outdoors.

When I am uncomfortable, I often resort to denial and avoidance. I want to shut those feelings down, and avoid whatever situations bring them up.  All because I don’t want to feel a certain way. (In this case, mere cold.)

The simple act of acknowledging feelings (cold), connecting them to what I need (warmth) and aligning actions with those needs (boots), is empowering.  (I realize this is obvious to most of you!)

Paying attention to my feelings instead of avoiding them or numbing them out, allows me to know what I am needing, which in turn helps me bring strategies into closer alignment with those things that help me survive and thrive.

Feelings arise from our bodies, and our bodies have wisdom.  I love what Stephen Schwartz writes about the body:

“The body is an opening, a way to union even though we may perceive it to be an enclosure, a little fortress with some awareness inside.  The body is a passageway … the door to spaciousness.  When we become aware of the body in this way, we begin to experience life differently and might even feel the presence of invisible forces, wisdom bearers that can give strength, compassion and understanding to us in everyday affairs.”

Increased awareness of your body and a compassionate responsiveness to what it tells you can be transformative.

This week, pay closer attention to all the information arising from within. Welcome it.  Respond compassionately, and effectively.

Some questions to focus your attention…

• What part of your body holds your fears? • From what part of your body does joy emanate? • Where do you feel tension … what message does the tension have for you? • What feelings to do you avoid? Which feelings are you addicted to? • What postures support your shift from depressed to empowered? (Amy Cuddy’s video on this: one of the most watched Ted talks ever). • What movements lift your mood?

Some bodily sensation words to help build your awareness of your felt-sense … Achy, bloated, breathless, bubbly, buzzing, wobbly, tingly, still, shivery, heavy, fuzzy, pounding, pulsing, flushed, constricted, tense, throbbing, sharp, twitchy

Words are tools. They bring what is unconscious into our awareness. With awareness, we have choices. With choices, we can be creative. With choice and creativity, we can change the world.