Spring’s Reminder: Mindfulness on the Path to Joy

Water Stars, the mindful photography image pictured here, was taken mid-morning at the Palace of Fine Arts here in San Francisco. I was on a fashion shoot and the twinkling water stars caught my attention. Dark and light, the tension of the opposites, reminders of holding both the joys, and sorrows together.

This invitation was prophetic. It occurred before my 70th birthday, which ison the edge of spring, traditionally a time of renewal. But this year, spring has been eclipsed by world conflicts, climate unrest, global pandemic, the threat of nuclear war, food insecurity, refugees, gender inequality, and so much more.

I decided to turn to mindfulness as a way to balance the tensions within and outside me.

For previous decade birthdays, I’ve come up with unique rituals, most of them physical adventures. At 50, I kayaked in the ocean for the first time. At 60, I rode a surfboard and took on the Pacific with a trusted surfer friend. But at 70, well, I sensed a more interior exploration was warranted.

Going off the Grid

For my 70th birthday, I took five days to myself (and cat being) and went off the grid.  I cleared the space, cleaned it, and set up an altar with symbols of the past decades of my life. On the altar, I also placed treasured reminders of the life I have lived, from photos to mementos.

My now-sacred space held tools for calling in the Divine—Tarot cards, Runes, crystals—and held the fragrance of fresh flowers. I also added my hang drum, to play as I felt moved to. (This drum, shaped in a round and convex design, creates magical sounds for healing and raising one’s vibration.)

The Inward Journey

I began each day with meditation and writing, and so many tears pent up for too long. Release perhaps, grieving, just holding myself and giving myself permission to unwind in a safe place. It was rich, rewarding territory.

I didn’t have the urge to check email or phone or even take a photograph. I started each day prompted to explore territory within myself, and I ended each day paying homage to the vista outside my window of penetrating cloud formations and fading light, often brilliantly colored.

Moving beyond borders

My grief, my tears, seemed to flow in all directions.

I encircled the people in Ukraine and Russia and surrounding areas, who live each day in the unknown terror of war that breaks apart families and countries.  I held the darkness, extended empathy, and went deep into my heart to find trails of light and a path to possibility, despite this. 

And I listened—to myself, to the stories I had heard and the trials endured—knowing that despite the distance, and the difference in our circumstances, we share a common humanity; we are all one. 

Spring’s Invitation for Renewal

Now that my decade birthday ritual has passed, I hold the conflicts within and outside me in the same container more easily. And in that space, welcome reminders of this spring season all around me—budding flowers and spring air that sits on my skin and awakens it.

Spring is here. Renewal is upon us, even if it doesn’t seem like it. The challenge, for me, is to ease into my soul’s crevices to find answers and my role, and methods, for making a difference.  

How do you mark this time? Where, in your own inner and outer landscapes, do you find solace? How do you find common ground?

#mindfulness, Mindful Photography, Gratitude