As spring graces us with light (the days are noticeably longer) and hope (nature's promise of warmth, despite the cold spell so many of us are experiencing), so can we take our clues from nature to prepare for an inner growth.
It's time to shed the old and make room for the new. I'm talking about the physical, mental and emotional old and new. As with nature, there are a few prerequisites in order to optimise our personal growth. These are:
Empty space: New growth needs space. Make time to clear your house of all the accumulated clutter; open the windows and air all the rooms; have a good spring clean; donate all unwanted winter clothes in good condition to charity. Whilst you are at it, clear your head. Take advantage of the longer days to go out for a run, cycle ride, walk in the park or what ever you fancy and get rid of any negativity by flooding your body with endorphins. Set aside regular meditation time (see my previous blog: Meditation to suit every individual). That will help you to clear your thoughts and reconnect you with your emotional needs. Clarissa Pinkola Estes eloquently finishes her story The Faithful Gardner with "... Remember. New seed is faithful; it roots deepest in the places that are most empty."
Nourishment: Every living organism needs nourishment of one kind or another in order to survive and grow. We humans, being one of the most complex of animals, need a variety of nourishment to grow. This comes in the form of healthy food, good physical exercise, quality sleep but also nourishment for the mind (challenging intellectual work, good reads, great music and art etc.). And last but not least, emotional nourishment. It goes without saying, without love, we wouldn't survive! Any time is a great time to nurture oneself and others in a loving, compassionate way. But as spring is here, we might as well renew our love for family, friends, colleagues, work, hobbies etc. If a relationship isn't working, find out how to rekindle the fire. If your body is failing you in some way, nurture it back into health. If you are intellectually bored, you need to feed yourself more challenges. Food is energy and we need lots of it in every aspect of our lives.
Patience: Growth - of any kind - does not happen over night. One must practice perseverance, endurance and patience. In the same way that an unfit body will require months of relentless healthy eating and exercise to show any signs of getting into shape, personal growth is a work in progress. Set yourself a daily routine that nurtures your body, mind and soul and persevere with it. One that you enjoy and look forward to practising every day. There is no point in making this into another gruelling task on your to do list. That's not what nourishment is about. We are more likely to have endurance in something that we enjoy. And then, be patient. The story goes the Buddha seated himself beneath the Bodhi Tree in the meditation posture and vowed not to rise from meditation until he had attained perfect enlightenment. Realistically, that's not going to happen! I don't think many of us even strive for perfect enlightenment but we could aim to be the best version of ourselves.
Whether we want to work on our body, get rid of old habits and thoughts that don't serve us any longer or find a new love or rekindle an old one, the onset of spring is the perfect time to lovingly nurture our personal growth.