spring is for self-care, and nature as healer

Happy Spring Equinox! 

Spring is a time of renewal and growth, and we are balanced in equal amounts of sunlight and darkness. Signs of spring were evident weeks ago here in Brooklyn, with blooming cherry trees, viburnum bushes, crocuses, and even daffodils. And while the plants were responding to unusually warm days in February, at least we can now say, spring is officially here.

 Cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, taken February 27.

Cherry blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, taken February 27.

With this energy of new beginnings, it's an ideal time to commit ourselves to something new or recommit ourselves to something we hold dear. For me, self-care is rising as a priority at this moment. In taking care of our body, mind, and spirit, we are able to approach everything with more clarity and ease. I notice that when I stop taking care of my self I become tense, more reactive, less open, and hyper focused on the "small stuff." The forms of self-care I've adopted bring spaciousness, subtlety, appreciation for the beauty in all things, and a big picture perspective. 

What can you commit to this spring that will bring you joy?

 Crocuses, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, March 2.

Crocuses, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, March 2.

Here are some of the ways I prioritize my health and well being:

Eating well – recommitting to a real food diet free from sugar, grains, legumes, and processed foods for the next 30 days (here's more info on that if you're interested!)

Moving my body – stretching, dancing, Sacred Warrior training

Tending my body – skin brushing, self massage, making and using homemade body care products (see recipe below)

Exploring the inner world – meditation, journeywork, journaling, reiki

Expressing creativity – drawing, journaling, jewelry making, creating art projects with my son

Connecting with nature – plant meditations, earth touching, listening to the birds, and Gathering Ground classes!

 

 Viburnum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, March 2.

Viburnum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, March 2.

Reveal a new layer of yourself

Snakes shed their skin, leaving behind the old to reveal a new layer of themselves. This is partly why they have been a symbol of spring for thousands of years. We can make like a snake and help our body remove its old skin to reveal our glowing selves beneath. Here's a super simple recipe for a body scrub to help you do just that:

  • 1/4 cup sea salt (course/unrefined)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I like to use Castor oil, but you could use coconut, olive, almond, avocado, etc)
  • 10 drops of essential oil (optional)*

Mix ingredients in a small bowl. Step into tub and gently scrub, starting at the feet and ending with the scalp (if you don't mind temporarily greasy hair). Take a warm shower or if you have time a hot bath. Step out feeling renewed!

*Suggestions: peppermint to invigorate; tea tree to cleanse; cedarwood to ground; chamomile to calm; orange to uplift.

 

 My boy, age 2, Prospect Park.

My boy, age 2, Prospect Park.

Turning to nature is my number one restorative practice

Of all the self-care practices listed above, perhaps the most accessible and effective one is nature connection. There is something inexplicably healing about being immersed in a natural environment, even an urban one. We are surrounded by nature, or more correctly we are inseparable from nature because we are it. The moment nature becomes an experience is when we engage it. Some of the very basic ways we can do this:

Gaze up at the sky – notice the clouds, the blueness, the stars; simply notice what is above you

Touch the earth – get down on your hands and knees and touch the unpaved earth; if that's too difficult, take off your shoes and step on the earth; what do you feel? 

Interact with a plant – find a plant that you are drawn to, it could even be a house plant. Introduce yourself; now just sit with the plant, exchanging breath; be open to what arises

There are so many more ways to interact with the natural world. And though we don't need science to confirm that it makes us feel good, there have been plenty of studies on how nature connection makes us happier, more in awe, more generous, and healthier as individuals and as a community. (Here's an article from my favorite magazine, Yes! all about it). We always have the opportunity to connect with nature, but spring presents one of the most dramatic times to witness the beauty of the earth. 

I'll be leading some free Gathering Ground classes in Prospect Park this Friday, March 24 and next Sunday, April 2. Perhaps you'll join me for some nature connection?

dandelion
soul of the universe