The Spring, or Vernal Equinox, occurs in the Northern Hemisphere on March 20 this year (2017). Marking the end of winter, the equinox is indicated by the equal length of day and night all over the world. Trees and plants begin new cycles of growth. Butterflies emerge. Birds remember their songs. People leave scarves and winter coats at home in exchange for cardigans and brighter colours.
The beginning of spring can ignite a desire for renewal and new beginnings. Consider greeting spring with some rituals to welcome change, growth, revitalisation, and renewal for yourself. Rituals—those symbolic behaviours you perform before, during, and after a meaningful event—can help mark the beginning of a fresh start or new direction.
Although there is an extraordinary array of specific traditions, rituals exist in all cultures and traditions throughout the world. Rituals can intentionally and effectively impact feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. They are often used to mark the passage of time or commemorate an ending or a beginning.
Consider trying the following rituals to welcome Spring on or near the equinox:
Practice 108 Sun Salutations
It’s a tradition to move through 108 sun salutations to mark the changing of the seasons. Although the origins of 108 are somewhat mysterious, the number has significance in several spiritual traditions. The number and the ritual of sun salutation have an auspicious meaning for many yogis. The movement through the sun salutations, whichever variation you prefer, takes on a meditative quality as you flow through the same movements again and again.
This many sun salutations can be quite a lot, even if you practice asana regularly. Perhaps there’s a number that resonates better with you for this time of year:
- Your age?
- The date?
- A number that’s been lucky for you?
Or skip the physicality, and enjoy a similarly meditative ritual. Malas, the necklaces used for meditation and decoration, often have 108 beads. An alternative to moving through the asanas is to repeat a positive mantra as you roll your fingers over each bead. This can also be a nice ritual to acknowledge any big life event or whenever you need a personal reset.
- Decide if you’ll practice solo or with a supportive group.
- Set aside an hour and a half to two hours to practice.
- Use something tangible to keep track of salutations: pebbles, shells, or beads.
- Modify the asanas to prevent injury as your body fatigues.
- Rest at a previously decided upon number.
- Put on some catchy tunes.
- Prepare to be sore the next day.
Plant Some Seeds
What you plant grows: if you plant apple seeds, don’t expect to get oranges. The same goes for intentions and mindset: if you’re always planting negative seeds such as, “I probably won’t get the job” or “I’m not good enough,” how can you expect positivity and abundance to sprout up in your life? Plant what you hope to see blossom. You can use plants as a physical reminder of your journey.
Look up what will grow best in your climate and temperatures, and do some gardening. Consider the space you have (a kitchen windowsill will do!), and plan your planting accordingly:
- Beautiful flowers
- Cooking herbs
- Edible vegetables
- Drought tolerant succulents
- A tree you’ll nurture over the years
- Find out what’s in season in your region.
- Purchase locally grown, organic seeds when possible.
- Allow your planting to be a creative endeavor: decorate pots with paint, place your seeds in a design, and make a friendly bet on when the first sprouts will show.
- Invite a child to join you in the spring planting, and learn about the wonders of the earth together.
Create Your Own Cleanse
Spring cleaning doesn’t need to be limited to your home (though perhaps it could use a deep de-cluttering). As you head towards Spring, consider what areas of your life could use an old-fashioned tidying up, and then dig deeper:
- Clean your car (inside and out)
- Create a food challenge for something you’ve been curious about: try a week being vegan or try really eating an apple a day
- Try purging all processed foods for a full cupboard overhaul
- Toss all the carcinogenic toiletries in your bathroom
- Let your intuition guide you: what are you truly needing to release?
- Don’t let old habits stand in the way of new ones: this cleanse doesn’t have to be a permanent change, just a one-time refresh.
- Get creative. Rearranging your room to boost your mood, go through old birthday cards, deep clean the cat box, or donate old books to the library.
Head for the Hills
As the sun begins to peak out and the daylight returns, find some time to get outside. Research shows that you suffer when you withdraw from nature, but that time spent in nature can reduce depression and help heal in all kinds of ways. A dose of “Vitamin N” (for nature) as often as possible can boost your mood, build community bonds, and bring your sense alive.
- Find a hiking trail near you.
- Research some local wildflower bloom locations.
- Take the long way home.
- Watch closely for the changing of the seasons.
Even if you live in a cold, snowy place, and it seems like spring may never come, there may be some small shifts: snow melt and small sprigs coming up. If you live in a warmer climate, notice the subtle shifts in the breeze and the smell of the nighttime air. Take a mindful walk and observe what you notice.
- Create a ritual of going outside at the same time each day or to the same spot each week to better notice the Spring awakening occur.
- Let creativity guide you: time outside will look different for everyone.
Set Some Intentions
Choose what metaphorical seeds you are planting this season, and how you will water them (see previous section: plant some seeds). What values are you hoping to align yourself with? What desires are you following? Intention setting isn’t just for New Years. Consider pulling affirmation from tarot cards, creating a vision board, or journaling about your latest goals to inform your intentions.
- Light a candle or set up an altar to create a sacred space.
- Choose one to three positive intentions to really hone your focus.
- Tell someone you trust about your intentions to help keep you accountable.