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musings with winter

Updated: May 1

musings with winter...

Those of us living within the northern hemisphere have been—more or less—in relationship with what is known as winter. The inconspicuous notion of seasonal-relatedness makes me pause, and I wonder: what is the perception of winter—as subjective, as phenomenon—what are the perceptual phenomena of winter? A mere scientific point of view (of which I was taught throughout most of my formal education) conveys the concept of winter as a referential for the time of year when one of Earth's hemispheres is tilted away from the sun—a variation of the tilt of Earth's axis relative to its orbital plane. This lens is valuable for objectively measuring and quantifying winter or any season within an ecosystem as well as attempting to perceive Earth as a complex system; however, limiting perception to a mere objective orientation—as in an extended representational and implied knowledge of—say, ‘winter’—from secondary sources [e.g., life-as-represented] may be too vague or contradictory for us to fully comprehend—in a bodily way—and perceive the complexity of such subjective phenomena.

Whereas, orienting toward perceiving intersubjective phenomena (i.e., experiences)—that which includes the objective lens—invites us into a living-body experience of winter [e.g., life-as-lived]—a bottom-up process. Intersubjective (i.e., intercorporeality) perception transforms the narrative to a relational experience. Perhaps limiting our understanding to be solely based on objectivity represents an ‘IF-THEN’ model—“life-as-represented THEN (becomes) life-as-lived”.  To illustrate, in regard to winter, a mere objective narrative portrays winter as ‘something-out-there’ that has been implicitly represented throughout time is translated into the lived-experience of winter. If it’s winter (based on the representations that have been carried), then this is what happens . . . .. Like all models, they are maps—which are supportive, but they are not the terrain. Solely believing and following the map, without exploring the moment-to-moment experience of the terrain (i.e., subjective phenomena), may perpetuate ambivalence, disregard, dysregulation, and anxiety to relate as participatory agents within an ecosystem. An ‘if-then narrative’ may also generate vague associations—divorced from the possibility of experiencing emergence and dissociated from authentically feeling and knowing oneself as embodied and participating within a dynamic complex (eco)system—a living system that has the capacity to experience feeling: tilting, perceiving, breathing, darkening, warming, grieving, melting, freezing, dying, birthing, celebrating, moistening, thundering, quivering, stilling, singing, seeing . . .

Whereas, flipping the narrative to include an intersubjective lens conveys an emergent narrative: life-as-lived can be perceived as living-in-relationship and further conveyed through story as a representation of a particular lived-experience. Participating in an emergent, attuned liminal relationship with winter—as phenomenon, evokes an intersubjective and permeable field of perception that is typically transpiring beneath our everyday consciousness. An expanded embodied perception capable of sensing the participatory-consciousness of oneself in collaboration with the seen and unseen dynamics of the biosphere engenders a potentiality to deepen and transform relatedness from detached-objectivity to attuned participatory-subjectivity with oneself, our species, more-than-humans, and the Earth itself.

The human body is an alive, ever-changing dynamic naturally participating and interacting with its environment through cyclical processes: The body and all of its components and the environment are informing one another.  To illustrate, if a mountain guide experienced a bodily sense of “no” in regard to summiting a mountain, regardless of logic, reason, intellect, or representation, the bodily knowing would likely inform the individuals subsequent action with its environment. Gendlin & Hendricks-Gendlin (2015) suggested this to be the interaction between the experiences of earth (i.e., mountains) playing a subtle role in generating what the body senses—the intuitive, felt-sense that knows beyond a mere cerebral-conception and implied representational knowledge.

A learned memory, Yuasa (1993) stated, “refers to those memories which we are trained to learn . . .  [in which] meaning is recollected in the unconscious immediately upon sensory organ perceiving a stimulus connecting it to perception” (p. 124).

So, I wonder, what is the lived experience of you with winter in this turning, this evening? In what ways are you and winter shaping one another now? Is there a tree-being with whom you long to share a meal? What ‘learned memories’ are being untethered between sensory organs and perception? Are there any stories of winter you are you re-writing through your lived experience? What is occurring under and above the surface? Have you and winter experienced any particular sensations within your body? What is satiating winter’s thirst?  In what ways have you been—or not—dipping yourself into the flow of experience? What song is being sung in the diverse bones and sweet vortices of your body?


Gendlin, E. T., & Hendricks-Gendlin, M. N. (2015). The bodily “felt sense” as a ground for body psychotherapies. In G. Murlock, H. Weiss, C. Young, & M. Soth (Eds.), The handbook of body psychotherapy and somatic psychology (loc. 7968–8176). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Yuasa, Y. (1993). The body, self-cultivation, and ki-energy. (S. Nagatomo, & M. S. Hull, Trans.). State University of New York Press.

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