Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring into Self Respect

Now one can complain about a tough winter. By all accounts it was in fact the warmest and driest winter on record for the entire country. I enjoyed staying here in St. Andrews and was happy to take advantage of the mild weather while enjoying the Olympics on television. Coping with a nasty flu forced me to rest, something we need to do at this time of year. Spring is officially here now and it is clearly time to come out of hibernation.

As I suggested in a column discussing New Years resolutions, now is the time to begin implementing some of the hopes and goals we set for ourselves three months ago. As the earth shows rebirth and renewal in so many ways, it is perhaps the greatest opportunity for us to take a look inside of ourselves. After all, if we cannot set aside time to perform some internal spring cleaning, how will we be able to get down to the brass tacks of carrying out external chores?

I like to refer to this as self etiquette. Many of us have a difficult time allotting time to be kind and thoughtful to us. We are too busy; we have more important priorities; we have fires that need to be put out. In reality, we will be far more effective at handling most of life's challenges if we have our own bodies and minds functioning in as stress free and tuned in state as we can.

I am a great believer in making lists. I go so far as to have a flip chart in my office. It is loaded with spur of the moment ideas, bills to pay, projects to complete - both long and short term. And there is even one page devoted to inspirational words which help settle me when I am stressed and help me center my mind when I need to make important decisions. Lists help me to de-globalize my life. By that I mean, lists take any overwhelming and negative energies from overtaking my day. Writing something down moves the thought or task from my mind to the paper to let anything potentially stress filled stop me in my tracks. I break tasks down into steps; I compartmentalize jobs, chores and personal obligations into manageable sizes. What I soon come to realize too is that what seemed like a daunting chaotic morass of decisions and problems are dealt with in a far more graceful, skillful and less time-consuming way than I had imagined.

Getting into the habit of making lists is not unlike making other sorts of commitments to oneself. Perhaps we want to increase the awareness of our own state of health. Seeking input from doctors, who are not mind readers, can help facilitate this and can help put us in the drivers seat of decisions concerning our health care. Maybe we would like to commit to spending more time with our families. Perhaps we might want to think about what we eat and how and where that food is produced and prepared. These are all wonderful ways we can ignite self etiquette.

The more ways that we can be respectful of our minds and bodies; the more times we can show compassion to ourselves; the more kindness and recognition we focus on us, the more skillfully and easily we can exhibit these behaviors towards our families, friends and colleagues.

Spring is the time of year when we inhale deeply a restorative breath; we 'spring clean' our houses, cottages, and places of businesses. Many of us return to our gardens and begin preparing the soil for the bounty of summer and autumn. We feel this renewal in our bones and in our souls. With this breath comes an ability to perform random acts of kindness, to praise our loved ones, and to appreciate the world around us. This is the time of year when we can restore our sense of gratitude and to redouble our efforts to help our friends and neighbors who need our assistance. Pay a visit to someone who cannot leave their house. Call a friend just to let them know you're thinking about them.

I believe in celebrating Spring. It makes me feel better about myself and it makes me more aware of the many blessings I have as well as giving me a renewed strength to handle those situations which are challenging. The magical part of this season is that most of what I learned in adopting this renewal I learned from my family and friends with a healthy dose of intuition. Happy Spring!