Spring is the season of hope where we see the early signs of the labour of the winter months come to life. What a good time to notice the parallels in our own lives. Whether our New Year hopes and plans have failed or stalled, spring reminds us that there's still time to start over again.
Spring is here
I woke up this morning to find the patio outside my kitchen door scattered with big, thick, clumps of fiery green moss, fallen debris from the guttering where the magpies are making their nests, the first hints that spring is on it's way.
With the gorgeous sunshine on Saturday it was not hard to notice plenty of other signs of spring's arrival. Still in the budding stage the cherry blossom trees remind me of the words of the French diarist Anais Nin. "There came a time when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. " This is a message that spring brings in its arrival and one that I am taking to heart right now in my own life.
In most parts of the country cherry blossom trees are in glorious bloom, dripping with luscious clusters of cotton-candy pink flowers, signaling that spring is the season of our lives to let go and take the risk to blossom. There's no doubt that spring is a season to savour.
Birdsong, often the first announcement that spring is here, is good for the soul. All that chirping and tweeting inspires our creativity. Writers and composers from Shelley and Wordsworth to Beethoven and The Beatles have used birdsong to inspire both their music and writing. Researchers are finding out that birdsong is both calming and a natural form of nature's stress relief. Try experimenting for yourself, and pay attention to how your energy feels when listening to birdsong in the background as you slowly wake to greet the morning or go about your day.
Upgrade your mindfulness
Spring sunshine and fresh air makes us want to pull out our walking shoes and get outside and walking at this time of the year is a perfect invitation to be mindful. Mindful walking is a great way to open us up to the senses which winter may have closed off. Slowing down, taking deep breaths as we walk, drinking in the sounds and the sights, sensing and feeling the ground, all can connect us to ourselves in mindful ways.
Not only will mindful walking make you aware of the changing landscape around you it will also tune you into seasonal changes that might be needed within. A study by the mental health charity Mind found that after just one country walk 90 per cent of participants had better self-esteem.
>How to use the metaphor of spring to reflect on your life
The more we look out into nature the more inspired we might be to look within ourselves. Writer John Muir observed, “I went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown. For going out I found was really going in."
But there are other ways to use the arrival of springtime not only for nature musings but musings of your own heart. Writing prompts inspired by springtime for reflective journal writing could include questions like:
What new colours could I add to my life right now?
What could I grow and nurture in my personal, professional, creative or spiritual life right now?
What strengths have I allowed to lie dormant in the winter months that could be tapped into right now?
Spring is the season where our observational powers come alive. By observing what we see in nature we also become sharper and more observant in other areas of our own lives. Personally the quality of my observational skills gained from being more in tune with nature expands into the quality of my observations and connections in my work as a coach and group facilitator.
Nature is on your doorstep
We don't need to wait until we're in the countryside to benefit from the positive and health side effects of nature. In the cities nature is often on our doorstep. Sara Maitland, author of A Book of Silence, who wrote, "Nature even in cities is both silent and gorgeous." When you really look and take in your surroundings you'll be delighted at what your neighbourhood has on offer.
This is the time of the year the gardener waits patiently for. Researchers from the University College London found that 20 minutes of gardening a week can reduce stress and Dr Dawn Yankou at the School of Nursing found that walking outside helps alleviate depression and improves your mood (and you don't have to own a garden, guerilla gardening spots are popping up all over the country).
So, come on, what are you waiting for? Make sure you benefit and delight from all that springtime has to offer both in the natural environment around you and by inner explorations on the page through writing and imagery. Spring is the time of the year the earth comes alive inviting us to do the same.