In Flux

Embracing transitions and change

7 "Rituals" for Spring Renewal

How to re-group, re-prioritize, and re-invent yourself spiritually

After a very long winter, spring has officially arrived. The spring or vernal equinox is the day of the year when light and dark are balanced. True or not, it’s said that on this day you can balance an egg on its end. And by the way, the egg is the universal symbol of rebirth.

Although we still have a little way to go to really enjoy the warmth and light that spring brings, we can begin to think about what we can do to renew ourselves and to better balance our lives. What better time than spring to re-group and re-prioritize, and even re-invent ourselves, and the lives we find ourselves living. Here are some spring “rituals” to help you get started.

1.) De-clutter your living space.

• Get rid of anything you no longer need. Here’s the rule of thumb: If you haven’t worn it (or used it) for two years, out it goes. Donate clothing and household items that are in reasonably good condition to an organization or charity and books to your local library or hospital.

• Clear out kitchen cabinets of items that have been lying around since you can’t remember when or whose expiration date has long passed. Dispose of medications and first aid products beyond their expiration date.

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2.) Clear out mental and emotional clutter.

When we think of renewal we often think of rebirth; something old dies and something new is born. Why not use this season of renewal as a reminder to get rid of things that are weighing you down and sapping your energy?

• Allow yourself to let go of the past to make room for new things to come into your life.

• Commit to making decisions you’ve been putting off.

• Challenge limiting beliefs about yourself and about how things should be.

• Think positively. Recent research has shown that we can actually change the circuitry of our brains. When something negative comes up pair it with something positive and stay with that feeling.

3.) Start a Practice

A new discipline will ensure that you invite mindfulness into your life. A daily practice affords you a “time-out” from your every day routine. This is a gift to your self; a promise to honor who you are.

• A spiritual practice such as yoga, meditation, or chi gong are easy to find almost anywhere and relatively affordable.

• Another practice that you can do on your own is researching and reading sacred texts from many cultures and traditions. Read them with an eye on universal themes--- those things that connect all of us.

• Walking is a wonderful way to help your body while clearing your mind. Walk instead of drive. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. And remember to change your route! We all are so programmed to do the same routine every day. Change the scenery, change your perspective!

4.) Begin something brand new.

Focus on spring as a time of new beginnings and resolve to do something you’ve always wanted to do but never felt you had the time.

• Assess your health. Maybe it’s time to begin taking care of your self? It’s far better to change the way you live, beginning now, instead of waiting for things to get out of your control. Create an inventory of your health including diet, exercise, genetics, and stress level. Begin slowly, one change at a time, eventually incorporating others.

• Explore your creativity. Learn a new language, take piano lessons, awaken the diva within, take a computer class, or go back to school. It’s never too late to fulfill a dream.

• Volunteer your time. Teach reading to those who want to learn, become a mentor, or help clean up your community; there are so many ways to give of yourself.

5.) Spend time outdoors.

• Plant a garden. If you have no outdoor space, plant an herb garden in your kitchen or plant pots of flowers to bring the outside into your home.

• Plant a tree with your child and watch it grow together.

• Build a birdhouse with your child and watch the inhabitants come and go from year to year. This provides connection to the earth and continuity in the life.

6.) Take a trip.

This is something to look forward to annually, especially if you live in a place that experiences the extremes of winter. These could include:

• A personal retreat away or a weekend that you give to yourself every year to reflect on your life, the past year, and what new things you may want to incorporate into your life moving forward.

• A family reunion, to meet extended family at different destinations each year, allows people to stay connected and affords a sense of belonging and continuity for younger family members.

• A family vacation can do the same thing for the immediate members of your family. Camping, hiking, or fishing, visiting an historic site, or a part of the country that’s very different from your own can help family members bond and reconnect from their busy, daily lives.

7.) Simplify your life.

• Slow down. As life moves so quickly, surrounding us with the constant stimulation of the information stream, we need to find a way to quiet our minds and make quality time for ourselves.

• “Downshift”, or streamline your life however you can in order to “upshift” the overall quality of your life. Reorganize your highest priorities and re-evaluate your commitments. What do you value most in your life? How much quality time do you spend with the people and the things you care about the most? What is the best way to use your time to create the life you want to have?

Hopefully, these seven rituals for renewal will set you on course for a life that is not only fulfilling and meaningful---but fully your own.

Abigail Brenner, M.D., is a psychiatrist in private practice. She is the author of Transitions: How Women Embrace Change and Celebrate Life and other books.

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