In my last post, I asked that we each take some time to allow ourselves to “be still” and “sit with” the space between winter and spring. I also offered a few focusing questions for us to ask ourselves in preparation for this transition. I pray these questions led us to deep reflection, insight, and readiness.
We now have the opportunity to free ourselves from the proverbial “bonds of winter,” as we step into the new life that is now springing forth all around us. We can open the windows, take an outdoor walk, rake leaves and pick up sticks, work in the flower beds, and breathe in the abundant life inherent within the air of spring.
In honor of this transition, I invite us all to try the following exercise:
As soon as the weather permits, let us go to an outdoor space that holds meaning for us, and where the beauty of God’s creation abounds. Let us stand in that space, feet shoulder’s width apart as we breathe deeply, filling our lungs from bottom to top as we intend and visualize the taking in of new life and vitality. We can hold that breath for a time, and then gently exhale as we intend and visualize the sending forth of peace and blessing. As we pause after the exhale, we can also be aware of the touch of the sun and all that we receive from its warming rays. If the sun is not shining, we can focus upon the sensation of the open space, and the magnitude of God’s magnificent creation.
We may find that a rhythm develops for these breaths, and in therapy we often teach a technique known as “square breathing,” which is 4 slow counts in, 4 slow counts hold, 4 slow counts out, and a slow 4-count pause before the next inhalation. We can also add a more structured thought to the inhalation and exhalation. My personal favorite is “Glory to God in the Highest” on the inhale and “Peace to God’s people on earth” on the exhale. We are all FREE to decide what works best for us individually.
HINT: This breathing exercise is also scientifically proven to help set us free from anxiety and panic in that it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the “fight of flight” response.
As we embrace the freedom this exercise affords us, may we also open our hearts and free our minds of limiting paradigms, systems, and associations that constrict us and separate us from one another. May we move past any over-reliance or hyper-attachment to any -ologies or -isms that may stand in the way of the perfect freedom our Creator built into our Universe, the freedom to be and do all that is beautiful, affirming, and life-giving. The freedom to do all that is right and just. The freedom to do every next good thing.
As we continue to grow in this positive freedom, we may find ourselves experiencing authentic peace and joy in our lives, even to the point that when winter comes around next time we may experience its effects less and less. We come to embrace the “ebb and flow” of the seasons with a new understanding that allows us to see the purpose and meaning of each transition, and every new chapter of our lives.
For now, however, let us be fully in spring, and receive all the gifts that come with it. May we embrace the “personal freedom” that is our birthright, and most importantly, may we seek always to . . .