Yesterday I watched from inside as a new snow fell throughout the day. This morning I jumped out of bed, eager to get outside with the shovel.
After a quick warm up and yoga practice I layered up, grabbed the shovels, and started clearing snow. It was the fastest I’ve started my morning workout in months. As music pumped through my earphones, I pushed the snow and cleared the driveway even as new snow continued to fall.
Lost in the meditative motions of my shoveling, time disappeared. I was in flow.
In just over two hours I had cleared the main part of the driveway. I paused to survey my accomplishment, inhaling deeply the fresh morning air and the satisfaction of a job well-done. As I came inside, my body felt invigorated by the work I had put in. I felt alive with the elixir of life and possibility.
A 180-Degree Shift
It was a 180-degree shift from just two weeks before, when I had dragged my body back into the house after 3 hours of shoveling, hardly able to move. Following that intense shoveling experience I woke up in the middle of the night with sweats that turned into chills.
Since then, I’ve shoveled a lot more snow. And now it leaves me invigorated and inspired instead of defeated and destroyed.
When I notice a shift like this I get curious; if I can identify what caused this shift in shoveling snow then I can apply it to other areas of my life.
What Caused the Shift
The short answer is that I turned shoveling into a fun activity, an activity that I was eager to participate in.
Two weeks ago, when I got stuck in the driveway, I had to shovel myself out. It was a chore, something that was taking away my time.
I was angry about it. As I shoveled I was in resistance.
I didn’t have time for this. Other people didn’t do their jobs well and the burden was falling on me.
I was a victim of the snow and of other people’s incompetence.
The Mind, Body, Emotion Connection
Emotion lives in the body. The nervous system doesn’t know the difference between anger and a virus; both are toxic and the body will try to expel them. It’s no surprise I got sick that night or that my body hurt.
Anger causes contraction. Contraction makes it hard to move, hard to breathe.
When I let go of the anger and resentment my body started to ease. I changed my language from “I have to” to “I get to” and my body stopped hurting so much. And when I shifted from “I get to” to “I’m excited to,” my body started to feel invigorated.
Finding the joy in the activity, making it fun, and feeling the effects in my body created a pull to shoveling that showed up in how I jumped out of bed today. I was eager to get to it.
How to Shovel Snow Without Killing Your Body
I won’t discount the importance of proper movement mechanics and form. Learning how to deadlift and hinge properly definitely plays a role.
That said, the easiest way to shovel snow without killing your body is to change your mindset and emotions around it.
Focusing on the joy of shoveling and what it is giving me — time outside, vigorous exercise, a sense of accomplishment — literally makes my body feel better.
The mind, body, spirit, and emotions work together in every endeavor. It’s impossible to separate them.