art : nature : words
Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist
Indoor and Outdoor Art Therapist
The gifts of Spring are upon us. At this time of year I often hear the expression: I don’t remember there being this many flowers last year! It is a certainly a challenge to decide whether this is true or not. However, every year our grassy hedgerow banks are soft-furnished with bouquets of Primroses and cumulus clouds of blossom festoon the cherry trees. Flurries of blossom petals descend to earth – delicate snowflakes providing an opportunity to express our gratitude that Winter is now a fading memory. Late April rewards us with carpets of Bluebells. These delicate woodland flowers have long been associated with constancy, gratitude and everlasting love. This is beautifully expressed by Anne Bronte:
A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.
Regular acts of gratitude can not only be life-affirming but actually improve our emotional well-being if practised regularly.
However, capricious April can in one moment seduce us with sunshine, then suddenly overwhelm us with a chilly shower. Living with unpredictability is a challenge for humans. But for some people, persistent uncertainty is an unwanted aspect of their emotional world - saturated by fears that suddenly seem to rise from nowhere. Through Mindfulness practice we can learn how to weather more uncomfortable feelings – watching them pass by like April’s darker clouds. It is impossible to out-run an April shower – better to be prepared to withstand the rain and await the brightening sun.
Our hearts are drawn upwards by the spirals of birdsong that fill the April air - the rhythm of life picks up pace. In April we now stand firmly on Spring’s verdant bank, ready to enact our new year’s resolutions. However, it may be beneficial to pause for a moment before the heat of May launches us into action. The anticipation of gifts can inhibit the joy of inhabiting the present moment. April is a time to re-connect with what our heart truly wants: that which is most important to us.
Engaging with nature reminds us that patience rewards us with fully experiencing the here-and-now. Many aspects of today’s world leave us in a permanent state of dissatisfaction. Pausing for a moment to express our thanks for all that Nature provides can be especially potent in April as we are presented with so many manifestations of the gift of new life. Chicks in the nest, lambs in the fields and the brilliant new leaves on trees. Young or old, we can celebrate being alive and for having our senses to experience nature in all its variety.
Expressions of gratitude and generosity are manifest in April by the giving and receiving of golden eggs. However, relationships at any time can be an opportunity to exchange heart-felt gifts of kindness, understanding and support. Our capacity to connect with others non-judgmentally is a heart beat away from our ability to show compassion for all living things.
Stillness is vital to provide balance to the quickening rhythms we experience at this time of year – for every breath we take there is always a corresponding interval of quietude. Even within our meditation practice we can pass through a turbulent layer before we find the deeper stillness nestled in the cradle of our soul.
For this practice we invite you to go out into nature and find an egg-shaped stone. Make yourself comfortable in a quiet place of your choosing. As you sit, cradle the ‘egg’ within your cupped hands nestled in your lap. Close your eyes, bring your awareness to the earth coming back to life: the humming insects; the sunshine upon your face; the breezes carry the pungent scent of wild garlic. We invite you to contemplate the gifts that nature bestows upon you. Next, gently add to your reflection how you can reciprocate – what is your gift to nature? It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture – just something that is an expression of your gratitude.