April showers may be responsible for May’s flowers, but we are the true keepers of our personal and spiritual gardens.
The sight of spring’s first crocus buds has me yearning to break through, be productive, and make preparations for something exciting and new.
It’s a visceral feeling, this natural stirring for new beginnings and renewal of body and spirit.
Could it be that the same forces that drive the natural world drive us too?
But with Netflix having mastered the art of the cliffhanger to exploit our natural preference for resolution, it’s kinda hard to back away from the screen and spring forward.
There’s no question that twenty-first century living has its benefits. But it comes at cost especially if we’re not paying attention. Always being hyped-up, wired-in and generally in pursuit of an altered state is not the path to unearthing our beauty from within.
We literally process about 1,000 different pieces of information per day, so the feeling of being under siege by the outside is real.
With all these things battling for our attention, it’s difficult to notice all the ways we’re not tuned in.
Ten years ago, we had an average attention span of about 12 seconds, but now it’s down to 8 seconds, which doesn’t sound terrible— until you consider that goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds. Yeah, it’s come to this.
We’ve swapped out real-world interactions for digital engagements with romanticized imagery of what is natural. So it’s easy to see how tuning out definitely presents itself as an appealing option.
We long for simpler times when life was slow, manageable and wonderful.
And our longing is exploited by enterprising brands — they package their products in imagery that taps into what it must have felt like to spend time in contemplative solitude, down on the farm with an idealized eighteenth century farmhouse.
Spring has a way of dangling in front of us, enticing new possibilities ‘2Be’ a renewed, improved self. And like all things in the natural world, it takes preparation.
Here are a few ways we can engage the kind of spring cleaning that readies the mind, body and soul:
- Unplug and give in to the urge to spend time in the natural world: We crave the restorative experience of being in the woods, going to the park, or spending time at the ocean. Spending time in nature has the curative, smoothing effect of connecting us to nature’s rhythms.
- Power down and find the silence within: Or as championed by the feminist poet May Sarton, live slow. Sarton retreated to the simple farmhouse life and produced works that stressed the importance of contemplative time as a means of enriching the self.
- Give your attention to little everyday practices: Remember when you had to memorize phones numbers? It’s now an extinct practice, like the rituals that connect us with living slower, deeper, and more fully. As I’ve said before, Take 5 and thrive — because sometimes, the time you spend getting ready for your day, may be the only contemplative time you’ll have all day.
In our feverish response to spring’s best impulses, let’s take to heart Sarton’s lyrical meditations on the changing seasons:
“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.”
Although transitioning from one season or phase to another can be stressful, realizing our greatest longing is at hand. We desire above all ‘2Be’ truly, authentically who and what we are.
In Sarton’s words, “we have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”