On the Variability of Weather

(CHANGING Weather) Acrylic on canvas by Jason Stephen. (Image sourced from fineartamerica.com.)

(CHANGING Weather) Acrylic on canvas by Jason Stephen. (Image sourced from fineartamerica.com.)

The other day, my friend J. asked me how I was doing by posting the following question on my Facebook wall:

What’s your weather today?

The phrasing of the question is attributable to one of our favorite meditation teachers, Tara Brach. In one audio lecture I found particularly striking, Ms. Brach likened meditation to the process of observing one’s internal “weather systems.”  I thought the phrase was a brilliant and pithy way of capturing the transience, variability and utter facticity of our mental and emotional states, and I said as much to J.

Since then, the expression has become our private semaphore for checking in on each other’s thoughts and feelings. Our Facebook exchange went as follows:

J: Over here it’s overcast and with light breezes. Eeyorish weather, endearing even in its gloomyness. Comment ça va chez toi?

E: Sunny with occasional clouds and lightning quick rain showers!

I was in the middle of a psychological rain shower when I typed that reply to J., and just like that, the terse and slightly whimsical account of what I was feeling was enough to disperse the mental precipitation.

(This impartial observation and description of the changing contents and states of one’s mind is a basic Buddhist meditation technique. Tara Brach calls it “mental noting.” Pema Chödrön emphasizes how it must be done with gentleness and precision. If you maintain enough mindfulness to practice it, it is astoundingly effective in dispelling drama of any kind and in restoring a sense of good cheer.)

So, what’s your weather like today?


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