With the arrival of March, you may be thinking about spring…about emergence and new beginnings…perhaps about bright yellow daffodils breaking through the ground to delight the eye and dispel winter’s gloom. I wonder if you, like me, feel a sense of wonderment at the knowingness of nature. How these brilliant flowers, after surviving a season of cold, deep in the ground, bloom and flourish and bring such joy with their presence and color.
And did you, like so many of us, make resolutions for the New Year that may have gone by the wayside – been forgotten or simply left unfulfilled? When you think of these intentions, do you feel a sense of failure and disappointment? Rather than dwell in feelings of guilt or shame, I invite you to think of spring, of March, as a month of new opportunities and of new beginnings. What if March became the month of emergence and flourishing ~ an opportunity to “begin again”? What if this new season became a chance to redefine your intentions, to revise your vision, and to trust in the emergence of what has been there all along: a person of goodness, inspiration and wisdom?
To allow March to be a month of new beginnings, it may be necessary to “clean house”: to let go of what is not serving us or enriching our lives on a daily basis. The following four guidelines will help in letting go of the old and letting in the new. As you read these suggestions see what emerges for you.
Examine your thoughts and emotions
What do you notice? Rather than attempt to change thoughts or emotions, what if they were accepted as they are: here for the moment? Can you notice your thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them? When negative thoughts arise based on past experiences or future worries, it is possible to realize these are simply issues the mind is working through. Pause, be present and pay close attention. Give up judging thoughts or emotions. Instead think about these thoughts and emotions consciously, almost as if you were a bystander, simply observing. Separate yourself from your mind’s thinking. You will begin to realize that you are not your thoughts or your emotions. You are a person, whole and valuable as you are. Over time your negative feelings and emotions will lessen and genuine awareness, love and acceptance will grow in their place. By not judging your thoughts and merely watching them, there will be a big shift within you and your sense of self worth will bloom.
What could have been, might have been, or should have been
Before you can truly live today a part of you has to die first. You must completely let go of what could have or might have been, how you should have behaved, and what you wish you would have done differently. You must accept the fact that you can’t change your past experiences, the opinions others once had of you, or the immediate outcomes from their choices or yours. As you embrace “what is” while letting go of the past, you will begin to understand and feel the true power of forgiveness as it relates to others and to yourself. From this new awareness you will be free to take the next best step forward.
Notice your attitude about succeeding and failing
What are you telling yourself that might be keeping you stuck in the past? Every day, all day, you are subconsciously matching patterns from the past with the present. If you believe you are stuck because you can’t move beyond a past failed experience, then your brain is relating to this experience as if it’s still happening – as if it were true today.
Ask yourself: “What past failed experience and feelings about that experience do my current feelings remind me of?” Dig deep and be honest with yourself. Once you have determined the origin of your current feelings, list all the ways your current circumstances differ from the original failed experience. Review the differences until you have them clearly in your mind. This can help you realize and remember that circumstances have changed and that a new attitude is possible.
Take a look at how far you’ve come
Even though you intellectually know you’re stronger than you were in the past, your subconscious mind often forgets that your capabilities have grown. We all have amazing power as well as self-limiting beliefs that hold us back. Sometimes it’s a childhood experience or an early failure in our lives that is difficult to let go of. Sometimes it’s something we were told when we were younger. While it’s important to learn from the past, we must also be ready to update what we have learned based on how our circumstances have changed.
If you suspect you are currently living your life through the conditioning of self-limiting beliefs, take some time and remind yourself of what is different now in terms of circumstances and your own capabilities. What has changed within you? What do you know now that you didn’t know then? What wants to emerge as wisdom and learning?
Examine what you have learned from past failures and adversities that can actually help you now. Failure has a function: how has it helped you grow? Have your past experiences helped you to be more committed, stronger, perceptive, aware, compassionate, or other qualities? Focus on what you have gained from past experiences.
Failures can be seen as positive life lessons. Learn from all experiences! Recognize what belongs and what doesn’t, what works and what doesn’t, and let people and circumstances go when it’s time for them to go. Not everything belongs in your life, so do a bit of housecleaning: close the door on the past, gently, change the tune, clear out your inner space, and get rid of the dust. Let go of any perceptions of who you once were or what you did wrong so you can become who you are today. And by all means stop and enjoy the daffodils!
The following is a list of my top ten lessons of this past season. Each lesson required giving up something I was clinging to in order to become clear with myself and to welcome a new way of looking at life. I am happy to share these lessons with you and I hope they are useful to you in some way.
- Difficult moments: Teach me to go deeper and be resourceful
- An aging body: Teaches me humility and impermanence
- Difficult people: Teach me more about myself than about the other person
- A “bad day”: There is no such thing
- Never-ending “to-do lists”: Teach me priority and organization
- Self-judgment: Teaches me acceptance, compassion and forgiveness
- Disappointment and Loss: Teaches me to be at peace with “what is”
- Failure: Teaches me how to begin again
- Unwanted change: Teaches me to be open and to trust emergence
- Everyday stress: Teaches me to practice mindfulness as a way of life
Time for fun
This activity is called: Bringing Spring Indoors, courtesy of Kelly Lenihan
Think about it: winter is quiet, spring is a riot. But how does the natural world move from silence to symphony without jolting us right out of our seats? Much to our pleasure, it moves slowly and drops plenty of clues. By welcoming the harbingers of spring, you will ease any lingering winter doldrums. Take a walk in your yard to gather bare branches; bring them indoors, give them copious amounts of water and a warm place to rest and watch them burst into bloom.