5-Minute Spring Awakening Practice—In Honor of Earth Day

A simple way to mindfully appreciate the life around us (and inside of us).

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Spring celebrations always seem to be pastel themed, something I never quite understood as a child. Did pastels somehow relate to Easter or Passover? Growing up in New England, spring never particularly struck me as colorful, it brought to mind the gray of April showers or the brown of the springtime mud season as the snow finally receded. Autumn was our color season in New England, the one where natural beauty grabbed you in ways you simply couldn’t ignore.

And then, last year something changed, and it all clicked. Pushing my son’s stroller around the neighborhood last April, I suddenly saw it all. Maybe it was the oxytocin flowing as I strolled my son around the city, or the relief of meeting a work deadline, but suddenly all the pastels popped. Spring, I realized, has far more colors than autumn—the new buds on the branches of trees glow a pinkish hue when viewed from afar; purple crocus buds peek through the mud; the gray winter sky fades away to reveal a crisp pale blue. The pollen, despite its propensity to drive my allergies crazy, leaves a soft green phosphorescent sheen on the cars and sidewalks.

Try opening your eyes to the range of soft colors and pastels bursting through around you as you walk, drive, or even take a few moments to just stand at your window drinking in the view.

Recently, one of the kids I see in therapy and I came up with a mindfulness game he calls “The Color Detective,” where we let go of the thought stream and make contact with the present moment by finding all of the colors of the rainbow in our surroundings. It’s perfect for springtime, to celebrate the earth’s reawakening after a long and dark winter. I find myself doing it myself on my walks with my son. Anyone can do it. Perhaps, in celebration of the season you can give it a try this weekend. Try opening your eyes to the range of soft colors and pastels bursting through around you as you walk, drive, or even take a few moments to just stand at your window drinking in the view.

A 5-Minute Spring Awakening Practice:

  • Go outside (or stand at an open window) and close your eyes.
  • Take three deep breaths, focusing your attention on the outbreath.
  • Observe the scents of the spring air, and then open your eyes.
  • Scan the spring landscape for color, and count each color and variation as you encounter it in your view. How many yellows? How many different greens? Any purples? Where do you see life, in all its glory, returning to the earth?
  • Silently note to yourself the beauty here today that wasn’t here last week, and commit to noticing one new beautiful thing each day for the next week—on your commute, while running errands, or just from your window.

Another patient of mine used a variation on this practice as an opportunity to document the return of life as winter shifted into spring with her camera. She came to our sessions with wonderful photographs of the emergence of green grasses, flower stalks poking up through the mud, or the first buds bravely blossoming on a tree branch.

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