How to Sit in the Cold

Sitting in the cold: Why would you want to do it and how you can make it work…

If I were to suggest to most people that it’s a great idea to go outside even in the thick of winter and sit on the cold wet ground for half an hour… they might think I’m nuts. But you’re not like most people.

Even still, one of the biggest challenges for people embarking on a journey of nature connection, especially in wintertime, is getting out to their secret spot on a consistent basis. So in this article I’ll share some of my thoughts and tips to help find a solution that works for you.

The key part of that last statement is that it be a solution that works for you. You know yourself better then anyone and there isn’t any one size fits all solution, which means this is also an awareness exercise.

So lets get started!

Tip #1 Wear what you need to feel comfortable

Some people are like human boilers and they can tolerate being outside in the cold for extended periods with just the bare essential clothing. In Wilderness Awareness School terms we might call this “edge pushing” because it presses the limits of our comfort zone.

But if we push ourselves TOO hard then we might start to lose motivation. It’s important sometimes in extreme conditions to go easy on yourself.

I like to push my edges with the rest of them but I live in Canada and we get some intense cold. If being too uncomfortable is making it difficult to get out to your spot then it’s a good idea to invest in some comfort! Really layer up with sweaters, long underwear, hat, mittens, snow pants, and anything else you might want.

Hold the image in your minds eye of the kid who falls over in the snow and can’t get up because he’s got so many layers on. Sometimes that’s just how you gotta do it.

Once you find comfort then you can play around with pushing the edge if that’s something you want to do.

Tip #2 Remember why you’re doing this

Always stay connected to your goals and the primary reason for doing Sit Spot. Why are you doing Sit Spot in the first place?

This is different for everybody…

  • Is there something specific you’re wanting to learn?
  • Do you value the time away from people to relax and unwind?
  • Do you want to work on your sensory awareness?
  • Do you want to support your spiritual connection with nature?

There’s no right or wrong reason for doing Sit Spot. The most important thing is that you stay focused on what the benefit is going to be for you. If your purpose for doing Sit Spot is important enough to you then it will be easy to find the time and energy to get out there.

If it’s challenging for you to connect with your deep goals around doing sit spot then a great exercise is to spend some time reflecting on everything you want to get out of doing the practice. Whenever you hit on a feeling of inspiration or motivation to get out there, write it down on a piece of paper and keep it in a prominent place to remind you.

Tip #3 Don’t Force Anything

Some people might disagree with me on this one but I’m a firm believer that you should never force yourself to go to your sit spot. Connecting with nature is supposed to be fun and if you have to put yourself under pressure just to get outside and sit at your spot then you’re not really getting much out of it anyways.

If you dread putting on your gear and braving the cold it can be beneficial to look at what exactly it is about getting out there that’s challenging for you. You can’t change external factors like the weather but you can change the decisions you make about how to approach your practice.

Sometimes when the weather is really bad I’ll go out onto my porch and stand still for 5 or 10 minutes instead of going to my spot. It isn’t ideal but I get a lot more enjoyment and benefit from going easy on myself than dealing with the inner struggle of all the self-imposed expectations I sometimes place on myself.

It’s really about finding what works for you and your goals. If some days you’re just too busy or tired to put on all your gear and get out there for half an hour then just do what feels good and get creative.

I guarantee that if you find ways to get outside and do what feels good then you’re going to have a much better experience with your sit spot. In the end you’ll get a lot more out of the practice than if you force yourself to do something that you don’t want to do.

So I hope these three tips are helpful for anyone who’s struggling with Sit Spot in cold conditions. And just remember that the key is to find a solution that works for you and your goals.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Go easy on yourself, keep getting out there, and make it fun!

Wilderness Awareness School