April 1, 2021
I pause to breathe in the aroma of sweet citrus as I step outside for my morning walk. No sooner, a Mynah bird hops across the dew-covered lawn, with branches sticking out from her beak, before flying off to her nest.
How do the signs of spring greet you in your part of the world?
As you observe nature waking up around you, I invite you to consider if there are certain habits, practices or lifestyle choices that you want to prioritize or recommit to. For example, is it time to create a new morning routine now that the sun comes up earlier? How about recommitting to a more organized or simple way of living? Or, maybe you’d like to apply mindfulness more intentionally to a specific part of your life, such as your financial well-being or community connection and service.
For now, how about enjoying a short mindfulness practice to help you observe and connect with your environment, including any signs of spring that enter into your awareness.
A Mindfulness Practice
Step – or look – outside and connect to the environment through your senses. You might begin with your visual sense, noticing 2-3 things you see. If it’s helpful, name them. For instance, I see a dove flying over a power line, a yellow hibiscus bathing in the warm sun, and a palm tree draped over my neighbor’s roof. Take your time looking around and letting the eyes go where they’d like to go.
Next, explore your auditory sense. Without trying too hard to tune in (or out), trust that your body and mind know how to listen. Which sounds come to you naturally? Does it have any effect on you as you register various sounds or sights?
If there’s any part of your experience you enjoy, by all means, enjoy it!
Next, and only if you have time, begin to add-in some spontaneous movement. As much as possible, allow the movements to emerge from a place of curiosity and playfulness, trusting that your body is wise and will begin to move in a way that feels interesting or good.
For example, you may notice an impulse to sway like the tree branches or step forward slowly and softly, just as a flower bud gently opens to the world as it receives more sun. You can play with faster or more vigorous movement if that appeals to you as well!
Move in this way for as long as you enjoy, perhaps 5-15 minutes. Exploring what it’s like to not control your movements or force your body to do anything that doesn’t feel helpful or good.
As you do this, allow the senses to continue connecting with your environment, enjoying the way your mind and body interact with nature in its many forms and gifts.
Did You Know? You Don’t Have to Push Yourself All the Time
Have you noticed that gentleness and stillness sometimes get a bad rap? What if we didn’t think we had to push ourselves to the nth degree in order to reap the benefits of what we’re up to? Has it ever felt deeply nourishing to slow down and not do? Perhaps nature has something to teach us about slow, cyclical growth and learning?
As Lao Tzu said, “Nature doesn’t hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
What would it be like to let nature inform the way you move about your day? Pausing for moments of stillness, breathing and being to let the nervous system deactivate between work cycles. On the one hand, it sounds radical given our social conditioning to get as much done as possible, but on the other, we are nature and the cycles of nature are a more apt reflection of our true rhythm and capacity.
Let nature be your ally as you play with finding a work – or life – rhythm that is a reflection of your true needs. It’s always there waiting to connect with you. Look. Listen. Feel. Let your body move in unison with it. Experience the reverberations of spring in your mind, body, and heart.
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Written by Breon Michel