Happy Spring Equinox, the first day of spring! Did you do anything to celebrate today? Do you have any traditions of customs for this day? I am in the habit of celebrating each turn of the season (spring and fall equinox, and winter and summer solstice) with 108 sun salutations. The pic is me after completing my practice this morning, resting in savasana 😉 I love sun salutations, the simplicity of them, and how I can step outside of my mind and drop into a moving meditation as I repeat the movements of my body over and over, coordinating with the rhythm of my breath. 108 is physically challenging though (which I also enjoy), so I split them into 4 sets of 27, with a few minutes of rest in between the sets. During these rest breaks, I like to take stock of how the past season has been for me, how I have felt, and whether there are any changes I need to make for the new season. I focus on whether I have been thinking and acting in alignment with my true self, or whether I might have lapsed into old habits that are not in my best interest. Then I reflect on anything I might be able to do in the coming season to cultivate healthier habits, to maintain balance in my life and my mind, to maintain awareness of my state of mind as much as I can. Am I being peaceful, kind, loving, compassionate (to self and others), non-judgemental, and equanimous? Am I taking good care of myself in body and mind? Do I feel content and joyful at the end of each day? If not, with loving-kindness and without judging myself, I consider where I might be able to do better, and make plans to do so.
Henry David Thoreau said ” As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives”. Habits are so important in shaping our lives and the way we feel each day. And the great thing is it is totally within our power to choose what type of habits we want to cultivate. We may have some less healthy habits that we have created in the past as a response to something traumatic like a cancer diagnosis, to try to defend or protect ourselves, or in an attempt at self-soothing. But once we bring awareness to these habits and recognize whether or not they are ones we wish to continue, the choice is ours. We can create new habits that are healthier and more in line with how we want to live our lives.
So take a few minutes this weekend to evaluate your habits. Do you have any less healthy ones you’d like to grow out of or replace with something better? Do you have some really positive ones you’d like to enrich even more? And they don’t have to be big habits. It can just be taking 5 minutes a day to practice stillness or to practice conscious breathing. Maybe 30 minutes once or twice a week for journaling. Maybe you work a little less and make time for coffee with friends. Maybe you commit to walking in nature 3 times a week, or practicing yoga on some schedule that works for you. Maybe you make a commitment to healthier eating by trying to eat all the colors of the rainbow each day, or by drinking more water and less soda. Maybe you practice loving kindness meditations, directing love and gratitude to your body for getting you through everything up to today (instead of feeling anger or frustration or judgement at your body, which can be so easy to do in cancer recovery). Or make time to read some books you’ve been meaning to read. You decide what habits you want to develop, what you really feel you need, and then put in the effort to stick with them and see how you feel. As your habits build, you’ll not only feel the benefit of the positive action or thought pattern, but you’ll feel empowered and realize that you can do anything you set your mind to. Today is the day, on this first day of Spring, to choose how you intend this next season to be.