Increased daylight hours and warmer temperatures may bring a sense of renewed energy and anticipation. Spring is about new beginnings; it’s a time of germination and creation. After a long winter of dormancy where energy conservation and introversion protect and support the “roots”, the feeling of sunlight, sound of splashing puddles, smell of soil, and sight of blue skies provoke renewed vigour and fantasies of a new fresh start.
When spring sets in, we watch the layers of snow and ice melt to reveal a messy terrain that has been buried under the snow over the long, harsh winter. The “great thaw” is often a metaphor I use to describe detoxification, a process in which we not only clean out the body, but we also clean out the mind and acknowledge those not so pretty emotions and habits we have been sweeping under the rug. Just like the mess the great thaw leaves behind, the process of self-awareness and self-care can seem messy and ugly sometimes.
As we begin the process of slowly peeling back the layers that are leeching our energy, we often find ourselves stuck in a place that is uncomfortable, messy, and quite often we try to avoid it, speed through it, or cover it up (there are all sorts of ways of dressing up the uncomfortable). Freud and other psychoanalysts referred to these behaviour as unconscious defence strategies and while these strategies may temporarily allow us to escape pain and suffering, in the long run they will keep us stuck and unfufilled. However, whatever we fight, hide or resist, persists. I like to think of these stories, behaviours and habits in more of a positive light. Whether healthy or destructive they have gotten us what we need in some respects. If we have learned and adapted these ways of relating to and being in the world, than perhaps we can adapt new ones. In order to create space for the new, we need to uncover, discover, sort, compost and let go of all of the shit (literally and metaphorically) that is keeping us frozen in our bodies and lives. Over the next few weeks we will discuss, nutrition, yoga, meditation and lifestyle practices to keep you healthy and spry this spring. Self-care is not just a buzzword and a fancy trip to the spa. It is an essential process of being intimate with yourself, owning your interpersonal and intra-personal behaviour in a compassionate way, proactively managing stress and celebrating the miracle that is your existence.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate” Carl Jung
SPRING CLEANING THROUGH THE HOLISTIC LENS
According to many holistic medicine philosophies spring is a great time for cleansing and rejuvenation. In Traditional Chinese Medicine spring is ruled by the organs of liver and gallbladder, which are our main organs for detoxification and anger. Supporting the liver and gallbladder involves working through our ‘stuff’ in a healthy way that neither accentuates or denies. In Ayurveda spring may be associated with the elements water and fire and it is time to burn off and rinse excess “kapha”, which tends to leave us heavy and lethargic.
“Spring cleaning” and “spring fever”are a cultural phenomena in North America that find many cleaning out the old as well inspired to get active (amongst other things). Before we jump on the ‘spring detox’, ‘spring cleaning’ or minimalism bandwagon, there are some important things to consider. To do this we have to take a closer look at what detoxification actually is physically and if and how we can support it. Mentally we need to first become aware of ideas or theories that are causing additional suffering. From awareness we may then use the practice of self-compassion to transform self-criticism and shame into self-love, kindness and forgiveness. This allows us to rewire new habits or ways of “being” which are a more inline with our hearts or how we want to be in our lives. In yoga the term sankalpa is often translated as a promise or an intention. I like to think of sankalpa as a seed that we plant. Once this seed is planted the goal is to pay attention to your intention; Its an investment strategy I call “wiring your why” Check out last months blog on self-compassion for more information on self-compassion practices.
Over the next four weeks come back to read about the Spring Wellness Practices. Stay up to date with posts and happenings at Empowered Yoga on the Facebook Page.