Spring into connection
We have just passed the Spring equinox on Wednesday 20 March. Equinox means that night and day are of equal length and this happens twice a year, in both Spring and Autumn, when the seasons turn according to the amount of daylight from the position of the Sun in relation to Earth. Spring equinox is also considered to be the first day of Spring when the days begin to lengthen, there is more warmth and light and the natural world bursts with new life.
Long ago, humans organised their lives according to Earth’s annual journey around the Sun, and the resulting seasons triggered by lengths of daylight, changing in a seemingly eternal natural rhythm. Humans followed and celebrated the different points in the year that coincided with changes in weather and available sunlight; these changes told ancient peoples about what food could be grown, hunted and gathered as well as what was the underlying energetic dynamic between conscious life in the light and the unconscious dream world of the dark nights. Winter was a time for storytelling, dreaming, incubating ideas and hibernating from the harsher elements while summer was a time of being busy in the outer world with the land working with others, a time of abundance and being outdoors in the light. All seasons required awareness of the next season so that people could be prepared for and enjoy the next cycle as much as the current one. Nowadays, we generally pay little attention to these cycles in our culture but I believe we are no less impacted by the continually changing relationship between Sun and Earth and by the underlying energy of our living planet’s seasons; we could therefore benefit from reconnecting with these patterns and an easy way to do that is by noticing them.
Our bodies are literally made of the elements of the Earth; furthermore, we could not thrive without enough food, water, shelter and loving care, all of which come directly or indirectly from Earth, even if we were incubated in a test tube! We also could not survive without breathing oxygenated air in the safety of Earth’s biosphere; no matter how much our culture tells us we are separate, we cannot be.
Spring is a great time for reflecting on and remembering our connection with nature and the Earth; as the days get brighter and the weather warms up, we feel naturally drawn to enjoy breathing fresh air in the sunshine. Its also a good place to think about how we have experienced the winter months. Have we had enough rest and quiet time? Do we feel ready for Spring’s effervescent energy full of new life and venturing back into the world of light? If not, what can we do to take care of our needs?
I think many people who experience depression could especially benefit from cultivating the natural connection we have with Earth and from reconnecting with the natural rhythms of the seasons. With this in mind, here is a suggested exercise you can try to see how it feels to consciously seek connection with Earth: find some outdoor space that has growing things and feels safe to spend a few moments: it could be a park, a field, a wood, a beach, a garden or simply somewhere where there is a tree. If it is safe and comfortable to do so, remove shoes and socks so that your feet are physically touching the Earth. You could touch a tree or plant with your hands instead if that is possible, and neither is necessary to do the exercise. You can be sitting or standing, however you are most comfortable. Now, take a moment, bringing your attention to your body, noticing the contact you feel, through your feet or hands, with the earth, the air around you, noticing your breath coming and going from your lungs, your heart beating. Then, take your time noticing the life around you, looking slowly at each living thing, plants, trees, grass, flowers, insects, birds etc; feeling the quality of the air and noticing any sounds and smells. What is the quality of relationship in the moment between your body and these sensations and the other living beings you've become aware of; are you noticing anything you haven't noticed before? how does your body feel as you recognise other life forms around you? What feelings arise? What else do you notice? There is no right or wrong here; this is simply one way of finding out about your own connection with Earth and whether or not you might enjoy consciously connecting more regularly. If you enjoyed the exercise, you can repeat it as often as you like and notice over time what impact this has on your quality of life. I know that I have benefited greatly from spending much more time outdoors, consciously connecting with our abundant and beautiful natural world and its rhythms and seasons. I hope you will too.