Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spring as Teacher: Cultivate, Plant, Grow!

Aw, the anticipation of spring! We talk about the warmer temperatures, the daffodil tips poking through the still frozen ground, or the joy of longer daylight hours. The movement of the sun closer to earth sets in motion the renewal of life all around us. Just as nature responds to spring with birth and growth so do we, as humans, feel the urge to wake up our inner potential and reach new heights.

Perhaps back on New Year’s Day we made some resolutions to live our lives more healthily by doing x, y, or z. Where are we with those resolutions? Forgotten? Stuck? Spring can be an excellent time for us to choose to act on becoming healthier—emotionally, mentally and physically. We have the natural forces in our favor! The landscape is changing from brown to green to a full array of colorful blossoms—perhaps awakening in us a need for a change in wardrobe or design in our homes. The days are longer, warmer, and sunnier—beckoning us to spend more time outdoors. Soon, local produce will be finding its way into farmer’s markets—helping us to make delicious healthy choices in our meals. It is an inspiring time to get unstuck.

We can think of March as a time of thaw and preparation. In order for growth to take place, we need to cultivate our inner landscape for planting new ways of thinking and allowing healthier behaviors to take root. A first step is to be willing to be open and curious with yourself about the ways you would like to grow and change. You may know exactly what your goal is, if so fantastic. But if you are feeling stuck, you may need to do a little digging. Remember, dig gently and be kind to yourself. Lasting change and transformation comes from wholeness, not by tearing yourself apart. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Set aside some quiet time for you to do some self-exploration. Get comfortable and have some paper and pens or colored markers available and use them to help you uncover what is true for you as you think about the following:

· * What are your strengths? What do you do well and enjoy? Write them down. Get in touch with the feeling of joy when you are doing what you love. Where would you like more of that joy in your life? Can you think of a first step towards making that happen?

* Become aware of your inner critic. Was it difficult to write down any strengths? Can you get in touch with the voice that was being critical, negative, and/or judgmental? Can you write or draw what that voice was saying? Do you recognize that voice? Are you aware of the storyline and history of this critic? Is he or she telling the truth?

· * If interacting with the judgmental part of your self is overwhelming, stop the exercise and take three slow, deep breaths, watching the breath as it flows in and out at the tip of your nose. Now, take a look outside and notice a branch and the buds on the tips of it and tune in with the potentiality of growth and the natural rhythm of life. Now, how do you feel? You are full of potential and growth, too.

· * As we explore our inner landscape, it is important to stay grounded and in touch with our awareness of what we are feeling. In the act of noticing what we are feeling, we create space between the feeling and the awareness of the feeling. That “space” is expansive and the more we learn to rest in this space, the easier it becomes to manage emotions, be more creative, get insight into better life choices. It is in awareness that we plant our intentions.

· * Spending time in nature, gardening, listening to music, dancing, practicing a form of meditation, doing yoga or other exercise that you enjoy are some ideas that help you enjoy more of this spaciousness in your life. Each of us has favorite activities that can nurture our being. Think about what resonates for you and make some time for it each day. You can start small…it is from these small acts of kindness to ourselves that lasting change can grow.

The steps above may have helped you get in touch with where you would like to grow. Now, with spring as your inspiration, see if you can take the first step. Try something new. This issue is full of ideas to help you become unstuck and start enjoying a more expansive life. Happy Spring!

By: Pam McDonald, LCSW-C
301-712-9015, Ext 1022

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