Sunday, December 15, 2013

How I Learned to Think my Hands Warm

In New York’s North Country, winter blew in with a white Halloween, followed by a white Easter, with nary a thaw in between.  I dressed for the season:  two pairs of socks, boots, thermal long underwear, corduroy pants, and flannel shirt – for inside the house.
One morning I borrowed my roommate’s car, promising to fill it up.  I put on my outside gear that I’d wear even for a trip to the mailbox: a down parka, a wool scarf, and down filled mittens. One didn’t take chances in below freezing weather.  
Along the road, the bottom layer of snow had packed into ice, the same process that forms glaciers.  When I got to the gas station, I took off my mitten to use the key to unlock the gas cap.  It wouldn’t turn.  Aaargh! One more thing that wouldn’t work in this godforsaken subarctic climate.  I was downright furious at the car, the weather, and general circumstances.
The gas station guy helping me said, “Aren’t your fingers cold?”
“No,” I said.  They really weren’t although the morning’s breeze had moved the wind chill factor to well below zero.
Back on the road with a full tank, I pondered what had happened.  I realized my frustration and anger had moved the blood down into my fingers and kept them warm.  So, if my mind could warm my hands when I was angry, it could do the same thing without my getting angry and upset.
  When I got back home, where the snow had blown under the door and hadn’t melted, I tried again to warm my hands.  All I had to do was relax and move the energy into my fingers.  I let it happen like when I fell asleep, rather than forced it to happen by using will power.  Behold, I could think my hands warm!  
Ten years later during my menopause, the ability to move the warm blood into my fingers came in handy. When I had a hot flash, I’d hold something cold like a glass of ice water and mentally move the heat out of my body through my fingers onto the cold surface.  At night I’d lay my palm on the cool floor to dissipate the heat.

Last year, I learned that when beginning meditators can make their hands warm, they know they’ve made progress in their meditation practice.  Hence, anyone can master what I learned by happenstance.  

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