Hello Human Being.
Happy Spring. I for one could not be happier, as I’ve found myself in a perpetual slump akin to hibernation these last few cold months. I’ve felt sluggish, tired, and simply over it. At times, straight up angry at the white wintery cold bull shit. So this transitory day, the Spring Equinox (March 20th), could not have been more welcome. I want to usher in the light and the warmth with champagne and red carpets, because dammit I’ve missed the outdoors. I’ve lived in the Midwest my whole life and I’m still not used to the cold, dark winters here. They go on too long. The skies stay grey for days. You arrive at work when it’s still dark out and you leave as the sun is setting.
So as I face Spring with renewed optimism and a sudden surge of energy, I’m considering how to make the most of these upcoming weeks. Specifically, I’m thinking of my spiritual practice. My spiritual foundation is very much tied in with the observance of and living in harmony with nature, and also in the realm of spiritual growth, by way of yoga and a (mostly) “harm none” kind of lifestyle.
I typically get my spiritual mojo flowing through yoga, meditation, art (writing, photography, painting, etc), gardening, and nature hikes. None of which have I engaged in these last few months, aside from art. And now I find myself a bit spiritually stunted. I guess you could say I’m in need of a higher vibrational plane. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to make myself accountable, by thinking about some ways that I can get the most out of Spring and the celebration of Ostara.
“(Ostara is) a point of perfect balance on the journey through the Wheel of the Year. Night and day are of equal length and in perfect equilibrium – dark and light, masculine and feminine, inner and outer, in balance.”
So let me back up a moment. Ostara is a fairly new term to me, and I’m guessing it may be much the same for many of my readers. I have linked to a very informative post regarding Ostara and the symbology behind it (points above). Simply put, Ostara or Eostre is a celebration of the first day of Spring. It is a celebration wrought with fantastic symbolism.
To quote The Goddess and The Green Man (linked above): Ostara takes its name after the Germanic goddess, Eostre/Ostara, who was traditionally honoured in the month of April with festivals to celebrate fertility, renewal and re-birth.
I am a symbolism junkie and I get my fix through many outlets. For one, I adore goddess worship. That is not to say that I believe in any mythical goddess as an actual being, but I do believe in the Divine energy embodied in ideas that surround a meditation on said Goddess, or God, and more importantly, what they symbolize. Being that I am an artist and I fancy pretty things, goddess worship is a great way to center my energy on something that is aesthetically positive to me. And this time of year is all about centering, balance, and growth.
But getting back to my major point here, Ostara, the first day of spring, and Imbolc (Spring) is a great time to set intention and find small ways to enhance my spiritual practice, mostly through everyday activities that I plan to do anyway. It is better to find joy in your life, than it is to wish for something different. When you spend your time wishing for something you perceive to be better or greater than your current situation, you cut yourself off from the joy you could experience in your present state. The grass is not greener on the other side. Life is what you make of it. The older I get, the more I see that this is true.
“If you seek some special life outside of daily activities, that is like brushing aside waves to look for water”
So with this sentiment in mind I’ve compiled a short list (with pictures!).
Here are 10 Ways to Get the Most out of Spring
1. Don’t sleep the day away.
Seeing the sun come up, and the mist rising off morning dew, is something I’ve seen too little in my life. I’m a night owl who sometimes secretly wishes she was an early bird.
2. Get out in nature. Get out of your head.
Being in nature is one of the single greatest ways I’ve found to clear my mind, reduce stress, and gain inspiration, regardless of what life throws my way.
3. Roll in the grass with an animal. Embrace your animal nature.
I have 4 dogs and 3 house cats. I also care for a small feral cat community with my husband and neighbors. Loving animals is one of the greatest things I think I can say I have done in my life. I get them and they get me and I’m totally proud of my little pack of critters. Pictured above is my cat Abby. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I take time to be present with my “fur kids” I become more centered and calm. Being present with my pets has also allowed me to observe them and to see what brings them joy. Their lives may seem rather simple to most people, but the fact of the matter is, animals have it figured out. They can teach us a lot about being present in the moment and getting the most out of life’s small pleasures. In our fast-paced world spending time with my pets is a good way to remind me to slow down and enjoy. It also makes them happy, which is an added bonus.
4. Tend my actual garden, watch my spiritual garden grow.
There is something to be said for getting your hands in the dirt. It is encouraging to watch plants, veggies, and the like, flourish under your care. I sometimes neglect the day to day tasks necessary for a really successful garden. I often rush through them. Rushing through these tasks, and neglecting them altogether, is anxiety provoking for me. When I am in this mindset I am clearly being task driven and therefore failure to complete them provokes guilt and a sense that I’m falling behind. This mindset does not allow me to find joy. What is a garden if not a place for joy, calm, reflection, and a slower pace? When you take the time to water your garden, pluck the weeds, and turn the soil, it is a good opportunity for meditation and reflection. As I complete these activities, I like to think about what effect my actions are actually having on the plant. Being present in my gardening activities brings me closer to the Earth. I become more attuned. This is important to me, especially as a current city-dweller.
5. Spend time being still. Soak up a little (sunscreened) vitamin D.
A bit of sun is healthy ya’ll.
It is a morale booster. A happiness inducer. A walk in the sun has been scientifically proven to elevate your mood and improve clarity. I usually take a 10-15 minute walk every day while I’m at work. It breaks up the monotony, gets my blood flowing, and helps me to decompress on more stressful days.
Sometimes I simply like to sit in the sun, being as still as possible. Stillness teaches me a lot about myself and my body. It teaches me about my urges and my tics. It helps me to gain a more grounded perspective and makes me feel more at ease. I often do this as a sort of relaxed meditation, something to help maintain my awareness between formal practices. Stilling my body brings stillness to my mind.
6. Water: Spend time near it. Drink it. Be like it.
Being on the water is peaceful. I love to canoe and swim and boat. I find being on water to be very spiritual. I find water to be sacred. It makes up 70% of our bodies. It keeps us alive. It keeps our planet alive. It is so essential. And on top of that. I married an Aquarius (chuckles).
Drinking water is also very important to me because I often neglect my recommended daily intake and I’ve seen the negative consequences over the last year in my skin and in my digestive health. I stopped drinking soda in an effort to get healthy and slim for my wedding a few years ago. I was soda-free for about a year (maybe more). Then one day I had a Coke, and slowly that became a Coke every couple of days, then every day, and now sometimes more than once a day. I shudder thinking about all the sugar I’ve consumed. And when I’m not drinking soda, I drink a lot of coffee. My water intake is negligible.
I’ve recognized that this is one small area where I can make a big change. Drinking more water will have so many positive effects on me if I can just commit to it. So I am tapering down my soda intake and replacing it with water. I’ve set a personal goal. I hope to drink 2 liters of water a day. I think it’s totally possible. It sounds like a lot and I may adjust the amount as I go, but in the beginning I want to stick to drinking a full 2 liters. I feel the need to flush and detoxify my system.
And finally being like water means letting life roll. Stay open. Let experience come your way. Adapt. Go with the flow. Say yes, but only if it’s something you want.
7. Eat for health.
I have been going to the gym for the last couple of months in an effort to enhance my health and lose some weight. I’ve gained some muscle but my weight has not budged. It’s been a little frustrating because I’m currently not at a healthy weight, but I’m trying to stay mindful and think of ways I could kick start my metabolism. One thing I can do is eat better food. I often go for what’s quick and easy. I don’t plan meals in advance often enough. These things are easily changed with a little forethought. Just today I bought all raw and simple foods for my meals this week. Nothing processed, so we’ll see how this works out. Healthy food, healthy body, healthy spirit.
8. Get back into yoga and meditation. Continue and build upon my fitness goals.
Whether I build a home practice, or find a way to adjust my work schedule so I can get back to my favorite studio in the whole wide world, I need my yoga. Once you’re hooked, you’re hooked, and presently I’m in need of my fix. I need to build yoga back into my weekly routine and I’d like to do it at least twice a week.
In addition I will continue to meet my other fitness goals and build upon them. I currently go to the gym 3x a week, and complete about 30 minutes of cardio and 45 minutes of strength training. One of the ways I hope to enhance my fitness goals is by beginning to track my progress and also by utilizing some of the amazing tools available to me on the web. I have not decided if I’ll take a traditional approach and keep a fitness notebook, or if I’ll install an app like “MyFitnessPal” or something along those lines, but I do know it will be a great motivator for me. I also want to utilize the workouts and training tips found over at http://www.toneitup.com to enhance my workout routines. I fell in love with Karena and Katrina when their show aired on Bravo recently. Their energy is infectious and they have a lot of knowledge. I am part of the TIU Team and proud!
9. Porch Swing. Every week.
I am committing myself to quality time with my husband every week. We spend a lot of time together, but not always quality time. So each week I want to commit to either sitting on the swing, taking a walk or riding our bikes together, just so we can spend some time, one on one without interruption.
10. Embrace joie de vivre.
My personal joyful life includes time with my family and friends, time spent in nature hiking, biking, or on the water. Time spent with my love on little adventures. Country drives. Dancing in the moonlight. Spending time behind my camera. Reading a good book. Creating art. Loving my pets. Exploring my city. Eating good food. Practicing yoga. Making mix cds. Cooking. Tending my gardens (both flower and vegetable). Acting like a big kid. Singing in the shower. Laying in the grass. Camping. Bonfires. Looking at the stars.
All of these things leave me feeling more centered, more balanced, more self aware, and more connected with who I am.
So I intend to do them more. A lot more. How do you plan to spend your Spring? How will you honor Ostara and Imbolc? I will set my intentions and give thanks with my daily practices to the best of my ability. When I meditate, I intend to use the symbols and images I think of when I imagine spring. I am grateful to enjoy another season of growth and rebirth here, with you people, and all the other unique creatures on this crazy planet of ours.
Until next time, happy spring!
(All photos in this post are copyright of the author; Artist credit for Joie De Vivre: Matt Lyon)