Spring is upon us – soon it will be time to say hello to sunny days and goodbye to our heavy winter coats. As we begin to shed our layers, some of us may turn to a “detox” as we look forward to swimsuit season. For others, a thorough spring-cleaning of the home is in order. As new life begins to bloom, we gain an opportunity to refresh our perspective and embrace a new kind of cleanse: a mental detox.
Winter was a time of hibernation, and for many of us that meant excessive time behind a screen: smartphone, laptop or television. The use of technology may have us feeling connected to the outside world, but can sometimes cause us to feel disconnected to what is closest to us. As the weather warms up a bit, it’s time to exit the “cave”, to go outside and enjoy real life. Set an intention to decrease screen time by spending more time in nature. See if a friend would like to catch up with you over a nature walk instead of over countless text messages. Set aside some time each day to put the screen down and experience the fresh air and beautiful sunshine.
When a thought enters the mind, usually it is either negative or positive. Sometimes we may feel like we have no control over the thoughts that come up. However, we do have control over which thoughts we want to hold onto or let go. When a judgment or negative belief arises, we can simply acknowledge it and make the choice to release it. We can begin to envision our mind as a garden – planting and watering the favorable thoughts, as we “weed out” whatever the winter season planted in our minds.
Breathing into Bliss
One of the best ways to detox your mind is through meditation and breathing practice. Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about completely cleansing the mind of all thoughts. It is simply about slowing down and noticing what comes up. Breathing meditation is an excellent way to focus the mind and reduce stress.
Try this simple, yet powerful, practice:
Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. Begin to notice the sensation of breathing, simply bringing awareness to each inhale and each exhale. After a few rounds of conscious breathing, begin to elongate the exhalations.
Inhaling deeply, and then letting all of the air out slowly through the nose, or the mouth if that feels best. Allow each exhale to feel cleansing. You might choose to add a mantra, which is a word or phrase to focus on in order to deepen the experience. For example, repeating, “let go” with each long, slow exhale. This simple phrase can represent releasing any mental or physical stagnation the winter season may have created. Slowing down the exhalations also has a calming effect on the body and mind.
Move Your Body
Winter hibernation increased sitting time for many of us. As spring approaches, motivation to move our bodies increases. In order to achieve a detox from exercise, working up a sweat is not necessary. Did you know even gentle movement stimulates the lymphatic system (the body’s waste removal system)? This means even a gentle walk or light stretching can help us create a cleansing effect within the body. Not to mention, exercise is one of the best ways to boost mood and banish the winter blues for good.
Refresh and Renew
Spring represents refreshing and renewal. Take this time to let go of old habits and patterns in order to create more space for positivity. Try these simple practices and watch your flower garden of mindfulness thrive throughout the rest of the seasons.