“Just as there are seasons in the world around us, so there are in our interior life,” Teresa of Avila wisely observed. “We cannot expect it to be otherwise.”
Spring is a season of renewal and rebirth. It’s a time when buds become leaves and flowers, when healing rain washes city streets and falls like grace on parched country fields, when the hard ground beneath us softens to allow shoots of new life to emerge.
As outside, so inside. Spring is a time for cleaning out and making way for fresh possibilities and new commitments. It’s a time to revive our senses and expand our horizons. It’s a time to begin again.
With all that in mind, we have designed some spiritual exercises for your celebrations of the start of spring this week. Hopefully, they will help hasten an interior rejuvenation to match all the marvels going on around us.
1. Start Your Days with Rejuvenating Imagery
In the morning before breakfast, do this imagery exercise for rejuvenation, overall health, healing, and energy. Called “Tree of Life,” it was given to us by Fran Greenfield.
Close your eyes and breathe out slowly three times.
See yourself walking along a path where ahead of you is a strong, tall tree.
Go to this tree and embrace it, knowing this is the tree of life.
Now stand beside the tree, leaning up against it.
As you stand here, feel yourself becoming as one with the tree.
Feel your toes curling down into the earth, drawing in its nutrients and strength.
Feel your torso becoming as the trunk,
and your arms reaching up through the branches.
As you and the tree merge together completely, see and feel its sap rising and circulating throughout, imbuing you with strength, peace, and the power to heal. Know and feel how the tree’s chlorophyll is giving you energy.
Feel how it is to be the roots, the trunk, the branches, and the leaves of the tree.
As the golden sun warms you and the fresh breeze stirs you,
imagine yourself in full bloom.
Feel and know how it is to be ageless — strong and full of life.
See how you are connected above and below,
to heaven and earth, to all that is, was, and that ever will be . . .
Breathe out one time, and slowly return now,
feeling rejuvenated, awake, aware, and entirely yourself.
Thank the tree for this experience. Then slowly open your eyes.
Wash the windows of your house or apartment. Then spend some time in meditation clearing away the dirt that clouds your vision. Let go of any hurts, grudges, and resentments you may be holding. If there is anyone you need to forgive, including yourself, do so. Then create a ritual to signify that you are cleaning and polishing the windows of your heart.
3. Find a Friend
Find a stone companion that you can carry in your pocket. Look for a small pebble in a park, in a creek or river bed, at the seashore, in your backyard, or at a store that specializes in minerals. Pick one that speaks to you. According to James Wanless, author of Little Stone, this “friend for life” can be a conveyer of wisdom, a protector, an example of self-creation, a metaphor for peace, and a model of simplicity.
4. Clean Your Assistants
Gather together all the tools that have served you well during the past year and give them a good spring cleaning, getting rid of rust and grime, oiling parts, blowing out any dust that has collected inside them. Wipe off television and computer screens and telephone handsets. As you work, tell the tools how grateful you are to them for their assistance.
5. Practice Unity
Try the following Zen practice. As you are drinking a cup of green tea, say, “In my hands I hold a bowl of tea. I see all of nature represented in its green color. Closing my eyes I find green mountains and pure water within my own heart. Silently drinking, I feel these become part of me.”
6. Do a Walking Meditation
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk, has written: “Touching the earth is a deep practice that can restore our peace and joy. One of the best ways to touch the earth is by practicing walking meditation.” On this spring day, go outside and walk slowly, in a relaxed way, keeping a light smile on your lips. Be truly present with each step you take, being mindful of your walking. For more instructions and commentary on this practice, see Thich Nhat Hanh’s little book The Long Road Turns to Joy: A Guide to Walking Meditation.
To see more six more practices for calling in spring go to SpiritualityandPractice.com.