The Vernal Equinox

by | Apr 6, 2021 | General Practices, Home Practice, Teaching Yoga

Season ChangeHave you ever felt the change in seasons on your skin? That sensation and electric impulse of possibility? For me, seasonal changes always bring up a flood of memories, and spring which is also referred to as the Vernal Equinox is a season whose smell and feel are intoxicating and filled with possibility.

Every April, throughout my childhood, my family and I would embark on the epic fourteen-hour drive from southern California to southern Oregon, to visit my Grandmother’s farm. One-hundred and fifty acres of bliss, and at that time of year, green fields and daffodils. Walking around the dew-soaked grounds, you could see blossoms sprouting and ready to produce fruit in the summer and fall. These vacations became a long-standing family ritual, and they helped to create a capstone on the passage of time. I think these yearly gatherings with my family instilled in me a desire to find ways to maintain this sense of ritual around change throughout my life. When I think of Spring, my memory brings me back to these childhood days, to the possibilities this season brings.  Yet, change can also up feelings of hesitation or even reluctance. As society progresses, and our connection to nature has evolved to be one that must be more deliberate to be common, connecting to these seasonal changes can become more challenging.

In my research of spring, it is clear every culture has a ritual associated with this season. It is certainly a special time of year. In Ayurveda, a sister science of yoga, early spring is associated with Kapha dosha. The elements of Kapha are earth and water, and its qualities are moistness, heaviness, abundance, and lethargy. These characteristics really represent both a time of heaviness and of almost a quality of being caught in-between. This is interesting to me because spring has always felt like it carried the weight of winter alongside the lightness of renewal, a very poignant dichotomy.

If you live in a country that observes daylight savings, then this is a time of “springing forward”, which from a practical standpoint means you turn your clocks an hour ahead, but it also connotes a time where life starts to awaken and intensify after the colder, darker winter months. Spring is also a time of planting seeds both literally and figuratively. Here are some things I associate with spring: spring cleaning, self-care, renewal, blossoms, picnics, morning dew, and my favorite – longer days.

On a drive through the mountains recently, I started thinking about spring cleaning. I know that probably sounds strange, but it is something I wrestle with. I always wonder, should I just revamp everything and “Marie Kondo” my whole life? Which in turn can lead to feelings of overwhelm. However, I wondered, “How can I transform this into a more substantial ritual, one that brings a sense of joy and renewal and less looming obligation?” I thought about different ways to incorporate this concept so it had a component of cleansing that moved beyond my physical space to my mind and my mental state. I considered various self-care practices which could reap long-term benefits beyond just cleaning out my closet, or deep-cleaning my apartment. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love freshening up my space because I know my mental state is largely affected by my physical surroundings, but in my opinion, I think it can be an opportunity to go deeper.

One ritual I have taken up recently is journaling. One of my favorite podcasts talked about Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way, and that book has been sitting on my shelf unopened for about four years. After listening to the podcast, I considered finally starting my journey back to my artistic roots. The book discusses a practice called “morning pages”, which entails writing three pages in your journal every morning. In the book, you are told not to look at what you write until you have completed at least three months of these journaling activities. So it is basically an opportunity for energetic cleansing every morning. You get to release your thoughts, worries, and ramblings into your journal every day, and it is only for you. Every morning, my goal is to wake up and journal before I move, do work, or even really talk to anyone. In the past, journaling has always been something I do when things are falling apart. So, making a conscious effort to do it, even if what comes out is somewhat mundane, feels frivolous at times. However, implementing tools like this when times are relatively easy, can allow these habits to bolster you up through the more uncomfortable moments of your life. I can tell you this has been all absolute boon for me and my mental health, particularly during these uncertain times. I highly recommend implementing some type of journaling into your daily ritual. However, if journaling does not resonate with you, giving yourself opportunities for contemplation and reflection during the day can really benefit your mental health.

Self-care is a phrase which has become somewhat convoluted. However, it simply means finding ways to care for yourself. It doesn’t require spending hundreds of dollars on bath bombs or fancy lifestyle products, and it will look different for everyone. It could look like having one or two non-negotiable commitments to yourself during your day. Maybe you establish a ritual that separates your workday from your down-time after work like taking a walk or carving out time for exercise. Perhaps that could be taking a shower after your workday to create a physical, and energetically cleansing, barrier between your work-self and your home-self. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of not allowing yourself time to stop, particularly if you are working from home. Creating some type of physical separation between work and down-time is extremely important for your mental and physical well-being.

Another huge factor in the way that we feel throughout our days is our sleep. Consider your sleep to be the ultimate piece of self-care. If you are like me, finding a designated bedtime can be challenging. However, sticking to at least a ball-park time-frame for falling asleep every night, may help to make your mornings feel less rushed and allow you more time to journal, movement, or time to relax before the rest of the world needs you to fulfill a role for them.

I believe it really comes down to finding one or two things that help you feel more fulfilled, and less stressed throughout your days, weeks, and months, which will ultimately reap rewards over time. It may not be a light switch, but it has the capacity to change your experience and even your relationship with yourself. Committing to doing one or two things during the day can help you feel centered and may allow you to build a sense of trust in yourself over time giving you the capacity to both acknowledge your needs, and fulfill them.

I invite you to explore this time of change and find ways to make it meaningful for you. Whether you feel a sense of excitement and hope as you embark into Spring, or you feel a sense of hesitation (or anything in between). Take time to reflect and possibly visualize your goals and expectations, so that you feel clear in what you want for yourself now. This March marks one year into Covid-19 being a very real and uncomfortable force of change in all of our lives. What you needed and expected last spring, may not be true for your today. So, taking steps to support yourself where you are right now can be a great way to embrace this time. Whether you decide to take up journaling, bubble baths, or essential oils, remember it is not necessarily what you do, but how what you do makes you feel. My hope is that you find one or two things to support your mind, your body, and your nervous system, so you feel more connected to yourself and empowered in your experience.

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