According to Ayurveda, our most vulnerable times of year are during seasonal junctions, or the fortnight between two seasons. Learn simple tips for moving mindfully and healthfully through one of the most important of those: the spring seasonal junction (Mar. 9 – 23). Allow, affirm, reinforce, embrace and support the vulnerability of rebirthing yourself into this new year.
Spring is coming, and along with it a sense of having quietly held on to the vulnerable seed of vitality long enough. You may want to shoot forward, burst up through winter’s weight or unfurl yourself into springtime’s streaming light. But, not so fast, little sprout.
According to Ayurveda, a time-tested science of long life originating in India more than 5,000 years ago, this precious seed you’re holding is still a bit vulnerable. Self-growth and rebirth naturally come with a phase of deep vulnerability that must be embraced and supported so that your own transformation can take place.
This precious seed you’re holding is still a bit vulnerable.
Simply stopping to take note of the changing of the seasons is a simple and nourishing way we can reconnect with the larger cycles and rhythms of life.
Spring is one of six seasons recognized in Ayurveda. And “cosmic rhythms are largely experienced through the six seasons,” explains my teacher, Maya Tiwari, founder of Wise Earth School of Ayurveda. “Cosmic rhythms greatly affect our personal bio-rhythms.” In the Northern Hemisphere, spring runs from March 15 through May 15 and is usually characterized by the first hints of sunshine peeking down from above, a thawing out of things held long-frozen for the winter, a sense of brand newness and possibility.
There may be more rain, sogginess or snowmelt where you are as spring reawakens the earth. The warmth begins to return. The air is moist — perfect for a young shoot. You may want to shed all the layers you feel you’ve been buried under for months physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically.
You’ll notice during Spring that things get noisier — birds gone for the winter to warmer climates begin to return and chirp you awake in the morning as sunshine pierces the sky’s grayness and beckons the energy of earth’s beings awake. Insects begin to return with their buzzes and whirs. Squirrels haggle and chatter as they run about tree limbs, rooftops and telephone wires.
It is said that if one takes good care during these seasonal junctions, then they’ll have good health over the coming season.
And, with the return of sunshine, warmth and snowmelt something vital emerges, quietly held in the dark quiet of winter’s shortened days. Spring season calls us forth. Back outside. Back into the world.
The spring seasonal junction
The seasonal junction, or rtusandhi in the ancient Vedic language of Sanskrit, is the 2-week period between the change of two seasons. So, the spring seasonal junction falls on March 9-23, overlapping late winter’s end, which ran from January 15-March 15 and the beginning of spring running March 15-May 15.
These seasonal junctions are a key time where we can find ourselves vulnerable as the season shifts and changes around us.
In Ayurveda, these seasonal junctions are a key time where we can find ourselves vulnerable as the season shifts and changes around us. “These are periods when the body’s cycles and doshas (imbalances) are most fragile,” describes Tiwari. She shares that these junctions, which mark the transition between two seasons, are the most appropriate times to remove the excess imbalance in the body’s tissues. Why? Come the end of the season that has aggravated that particular imbalance, the imbalance will be in its most liquid form and can be easily removed from body tissues.
It is said that if one takes good care during these seasonal junctions, then they’ll have good health over the coming season.
Spring is about supporting rebirth
And like the seasons outside, spring’s energy of rebirth is also the first cycle in Hakomi’s Sensitivity Cycle, which I talk more about in 3 signs your mind needs rest. The spring season’s energy of awareness/clarity begins the cycle.
The Sensitivity Cycle is a 4-stage cycle of human experience the founder of the Hakomi method, Ron Kurtz, conceptualized in order to provide “a theoretical map of optimal life functioning emphasizing the need for sensitivity to one’s internal experience in relation to four essential stages.”
The 4 stages create a cycle that Kurtz terms The Sensitivity Cycle, “which suggests that for a satisfying life an individual needs to:
- (Find Awareness / Clarity) be aware of, or sensitive to, one’s own essential situations and needs,
- (Take Effective Action) take appropriate action based on this clarity,
- (Receive Satisfaction) experience satisfaction as a result of successful action, and
- (Allow Healthy Rest / Relaxation or Completion) be able to rest and regenerate in order to become aware and clear about what is needed next (start over at Step 1).”
But, “when sensitivity is impeded via a barrier, the loop is either stalled or becomes a shallow or unsatisfying journey,” describes Kurtz in his 1990 book on Hakomi Method. “The sensitivity cycle is a process and barriers are its interruptions.” Kurtz describes a barrier as a habitual way we block increases to sensitivity in each stage of the cycle.
So, how can you be aware of and sensitive to your essential needs moving into the spring season, and the awareness/clarity stage of The Sensitivity Cycle?
In all the ways you can: meet the raw, fearful, vulnerability you feel and support it. Make the natural world outside mirror your world inside by acknowledging the truth of what you’re feeling, practicing acceptance of how you feel, affirming and reinforcing yourself to build resilience, and embracing your own vulnerability so you can support your personal transformation.
1. First, acknowledge you’re in a process of transformation
Transformations can be subtle or loud. But, your unique process of rebirthing lives on a spectrum somewhere between these two. Regardless how small or big your own transformation may seem, it allows you the opportunity to practice facing your own fears and vulnerabilities.
“It is only during this period that growth and personal transformation can occur. When you face whatever arises, you are no longer vulnerable.”
– Maya Tiwari, Wise Earth Ayurveda Nutrition Food, Breathe & Sound manual part 2, unit 11: Tastes of the Seasons
Simply acknowledging that you’re in a vulnerable, yet transformational season brings awareness to the part of you or your life that is being rebirthed. And, once awareness touches energy, it begins to transform.
2. Practice acceptance
The part of you (or your life) that longs for transformation will probably feel unsteady or even scared at the idea of change. Experiencing a new and unfamiliar process can feel very vulnerable.
As many times as you need to each day, touch in with yourself and get to know your own unique process. Try this quick exercise while sitting at your desk, between meetings or errands:
Place your right hand over your heart or anywhere on your body where you sense fear, uneasiness or vulnerability. It may be a swirling of what feels like anxiety in your chest, or a dropping in your stomach, a tense or tender part of your body. Whatever it is for you, place your right hand where you notice the sensation and say to yourself:
This too is inclusive. This message immediately opens up space for any sensation, feeling or experience to be there without it needing to be different or be figured out. As you notice the sensations, feelings or experiences move or change, just follow them with your hand and your acceptance: this too. This too. This too.
Notice what happens to each sensation, emotion or experience as you practice this simple ritual of acceptance.
3. Affirm and reinforce to build resilience
That tiny shoot of what wants to be birthed inside of you and in your life is going to be raw and fragile while you get to know it and its unique transformational process. So, you’re gonna need reinforcements!
All along the way, offering yourself support in the form of affirmations can help reinforce this sprouting seedling emerging in a big, new world. You can find affirmations externally or feel into them internally, but however you find yours, use them:
- Write your affirmations on post-it notes and place them around your house or at work where you’ll spend time looking at them (near the bathroom mirror, where you make food, coffee or tea in the morning, on your home office computer screen, inside your smartphone’s notepad or journal).
- Find pinterest affirmations and create a board for your transformation with unique affirmations you can look at to cheer yourself on during this unsteady process.
- Meditate with affirmations. One of the reasons I was drawn to Sahaja meditation, or “simple” meditation, was its easy-to-remember and meaningful affirmations. And, the way it calls you to make contact with your own body at various points. Try my simple guided 10-min meditation on Soundcloud.
During meditation, new affirmations may come to you. Use those in the same ways discussed above to support yourself when you’re feeling anxious, weak, stressed, scared or overwhelmed in your own vulnerability.
4. Embrace your raw vulnerability
One of the reasons the change of rebirth can feel so difficult is because we spend too much of our precious energy in resistance to it. And, that tricky resistance comes in many costumes that are often hard to discern.
Start to take notice of how you resist.
Negative self-talk: Does a voice in the back of your head sound judgemental about your process? Your affirmations? Does it not believe in you? Does it not believe you are worth it?
Avoidance and self-sabotage: Do you find yourself avoiding the steps above? Using work obligations, substances or other people and relationships to avoid getting to know your own process? Are you noticing yourself avoiding having to feel the discomfort or vulnerability that’s there?
Archetypical patterns and character strategies: Do you notice yourself making the process or your own vulnerability “bad” so you can blame it for what you don’t understand about it? Or blame it for not being at the place in the process you think you should be at? Are you having trouble taking responsibility for your own behaviors and blaming, then giving up on yourself? Do you expect someone else to tell you what to do or do this process for you?
Are you too busy helping and saving everyone else in your life that you don’t have any energy left for yourself? Can you not seem to make the time for your own process?
Are you too tough or smart or in-the-know to take time with yourself, support yourself, self-affirm and get to know what you need in this process? Do you believe you don’t need anything? Are you spending time managing other people instead of sitting with yourself in this process?
When you notice any, or many, of the above scenarios play out during this time, pause. Then, write them down. Ask yourself:
- What are you believing when the resistance happens? Is there a voice saying something to you, and what does it say?
- Is there an impulse you have, and what does it want to do?
- Is there a behavior or thing that you do that feels familiar, and you find yourself doing it again? What is it? And what is the story you’re telling yourself when you’re doing it?
5. Allow your own transformation to unfold with support
By this point in the process, you may be getting to know what type of transformation you’re experiencing. You may be noticing and allowing your own process to be what it is. And, you may be more familiar with all the ways you lean into or resist the process of change.
All of it is okay. Even the resistance. How we resist helps us understand where we’re protecting ourselves from getting hurt or simply too afraid to update the old pattern.
Our resistance is there for a reason. It was once our protector from something that was too big or too scary for us to handle at the time.
While we’re getting to know all the ways we’re changing and how we’re also resistant to that change, cleansing can help us support our process of rebirth by giving us structure and allowing us to release what’s weighing on us, getting in the way or getting us down physically, mentally and emotionally.
Try a gentle, three-day Ayurvedic cleanse routine over a weekend of the spring seasonal junction to help you shed the physical, emotional or mental weight and toxins you might be dragging around from Winter. These are the basic ingredients to an Ayurvedic cleanse:
- Create a supportive structure: Keeping a consistent schedule to create structure and ease.
- Rest and digest: Eating a mono-diet of nourishing, easy-to-digest whole foods to allow your digestion to rest.
- Cleanse internally: Taking cleansing Ayurvedic seasonal herbs and spices to move Winter’s stagnation, water, weight and toxins out of your body.
- Cleanse externally: Cleansing rituals to pull toxins from the body externally through the sense organs: the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin. Then, using oils to protect the sense organs.
Create a supportive structure with a consistent schedule
Setting, and trying your best to stick to, a consistent schedule during this time creates a rhythm and structure that will allow you to relax.
The key touchpoints in your schedule should be:
- Go to bed at the same time each night (preferably by 10 p.m.).
- Wake up at the same time each morning (getting seven to eight hours of rest, preferably by 6 or 7 a.m.).
- Find a quiet time to meditate, breathe quietly or journal at the same time each morning.
- Eat breakfast at the same time each morning.
- Eat lunch at the same time each day (preferably between 11-1 p.m. when your digestive fire is strongest).
- Eat a light dinner at the same time each evening (preferably before 7 p.m.).
In an Ayurvedic approach to replenishment, food is medicine. So, make your own medicine for the season.
Rest and digest
Eating a mono-diet of nourishing, easy-to-digest whole foods will allow your digestion to rest and focus on just a few whole ingredients, herbs and spices. This aids your body in releasing what’s no longer serving it. Try these helpful ingredients, medicines and instructions on how to do a 3-day cleanse over the weekend:
- Enjoy a simple, nourishing mono-diet to give your digestion a rest with Svastha Ayurveda’s 3- day Kitchari cleansing kit
- Try hand-made ayurvedic herbal blends, medicated ghees and teas to aid systemic cleansing using Svastha Ayurveda’s Basic cleansing kit
- Start simple and don’t beat yourself up. Ayurvedic cleanses are meant to be gentle and self-compassionate. Use these cleansing instructions to take the guess-work out of the process: Svastha Ayurveda’s 3-day cleanse instructions
In an Ayurvedic approach to digesting and assimilating the process of transformation, food is medicine. And, your digestive fire is your best friend. So, stoke your inner fire by making your own medicine for the season. Incorporate seasonal, roasted spice mixes, called masalas and mixtures of powdered herbs and or minerals, called churnas, into your daily routine.
- Try these Spring masalas from my teacher at Wise Earth School of Ayurveda. Once made, put it in a spice jar and simply sprinkle the spring masala onto eggs, oats, grains, or saute it in some oil with veggies. Or, use it to season a soup or a red lentil or moong dahl.
- Try these two simple churnas to incorporate for late Winter seasonal junction:
- Throughout the day use: Agni, or digestive fire, churna or the powerfully cleansing Daily detox formula from Svastha Ayurveda – both help break up congestion, increase our Agni, or inner digestive fire, so we can digest all that we’re reflecting on mentally, emotionally and physically in the food we eat. Take these before meals up to 3 times per day.
- About an hour before bed use: Triphala churna – helps cleanse the GI tract and colon so we’re passing the digested and assimilated mental, emotional or physical food easily through our bodies and letting what no longer serves us go through the descending colon. Take 1/2 tsp of Triphala soaked in a small cup of hot water about an hour before bedtime every night.
When an imbalance is liquid in your system, you want to encourage its flow out of the body. What better way than by sweating it out!
- At home, take a 15-minute ginger bath weekly or more to encourage sweating and release toxins, ease body tension and melt stress.
- At the gym or the YMCA, take 30 minutes to an hour in the sauna and/or steam rooms to work up a sweat.
- Create an at-home sauna in your bathroom.
- Turn up the water heater to a safe temp.
- Close the bathroom door and roll up a towel to prevent air from coming in or getting out.
- Adjust the showerhead to an angle that leaves space inside the shower or tub for your body to comfortably sit on a chair, mat or on the floor inside without being touched by the hot water.
- Before getting into the shower, turn the showerhead on full blast and make sure there is a space for your body to be and not get scalded. Then, close the shower curtain or door well and allow at least 5 mins for the room to begin filling with steam.
- While the room fills with steam, grab a natural-bristled skin brush and begin brushing your skin starting at your feet, up to your legs and toward your heart. You can use circular movements and long, sweeping brushes. This stimulates your largest sense organ, your skin while breaking up toxins and stagnant lymph and guiding it to move and flush from your system.
- When the room feels warm and steamy, step inside the shower or tub in the space you made yourself. Secure the door or curtain as well as you can and take a seat for the next 10-20 minutes feeling the heat and steam penetrate your skin, nose, ears, mouth and eyes. This steam helps liquefy toxins so they can emerge from your body as sweat. Tip: Use this time for checking in with your body and your breath. Try breathing in the moist air into your airways and as deep as you can, then releasing the breath.
- When you’re ready, carefully turn off the hot water stream and turn the water to the opposite coldest setting. You can adjust the showerhead to comfortably shower under. Now, stand under the cold water stream and count to 60 seconds to stimulate blood and lymph flow. Tip: don’t do this longer than feels comfortable. For example, if you begin to feel lightheaded or breathless, please take care of your needs and take a break.
Want to practice self-care through rhythmic realignment?
Curious to work with someone who can help you explore how you can feel more grounded, connected and purposeful by simply connecting with life’s natural rhythms? Schedule time for a Consultation or a ReConnection™ session with me.