It's the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere today and Spring is officially here. Astronomically, an equinox is the moment when the Earth's equator passes through the centre of the sun, momentarily creating an equilibrium between night and day because of the way the Earth tilts in relation to the Sun. The word equinox comes from the Latin word "aequinoctium" meaning 'equal night'.
Right now, the stabilising energy that this balance brings feels really important. The world, this Spring, has been plunged into a huge amount of vulnerability and uncertainty. The chaos and changes brought by the Covid-19 epidemic are so rapid that it is difficult to process the enormity of what we are going through and adjust to a situation which, frankly, most of us will never have experienced before. Shortages of foodstuff, medicines and other supplies not only highlight the fragility of the “just-in-time” way of life that we have created but also how scary it is to face scarcity and lack. Social distancing measures also mean that our usual sources of support like family, friends and other social groups may not be available to us. It’s tough and let us not underestimate or even diminish the impact of this on our emotional and mental well-being. The world outside of us is heavy with stress and it is important that we redress the balance by bringing joy, comfort and lightness into our lives to help us go through this difficult time.
Mirroring the balance between day and night at the Spring Equinox, we need to pause a little each day and consciously create an inner space where we can experience a return to normal at regular intervals, to balance the dark with the light. Connecting with our breath is a really useful way to detach ourselves from both the outer chaos and our inner fears. Our breath is available to us as a soothing, rythmic movement for as long as we are alive. In focusing on our breath, we ground ourselves in the present moment and the worries about the past or the future loosen their grip on us. The relief is immediate even if it takes practice to sustain it for longer.
Another grounding practice to help us bring restorative balance into our lives is to be out in nature where life goes on as normal. The birds are building their nests and pairing up for the breeding season, oblivious of the troubles of the world. In the same way, the daffodils are blooming and the hedgerow is growing green shoots. Surrounding ourselves with normality is vitally important during abnormal times and nature offers us plenty of opportunities to witness “normal”, especially in Springtime when the air is full of hope, promise and new life. Yesterday, I was watching a female robin pick up dead leaves and taking them away to the nest she is building. I spent a delightful few moments watching her come and go, selecting the best leaves and flying away with them in her beak to a location out of my sight.
I have heard that Wildlife TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham is launching an initiative on social media called the Self Isolating Bird Club to provide a safe space to share photos and sightings and engage with each other through birdwatching and reconnecting with nature. A fantastic channel for learning and connecting with others when we are physically distancing ourselves for health reasons. I will certainly engage with this and look forward to others’ contributions. From what I have seen so far, some photos and videos have captions that will certainly bring humour and laughter into my life. A good way to balance out the stress of the Coronavirus crisis this Spring.
I am lucky that gardening and growing veg and fruit is providing me with an escape from the fears and worries. This year, I am creating a dahlia bed and the tubers have just got delivered. I will be planting them into pots in the next day or so to give them a chance to grow in the greenhouse before planting them out later on. We are also incubating some fertile eggs at the moment and I am very much looking forward to chicks hatching in less than three weeks' time.
During this epidemic with huge and far-reaching consequences for us all, a return to simplicity and the small things will help us keep sane and leave us with the sense that we can do something to feel better, to curb the anxiety and to make life lighter for ourselves. The burden is heavy, there is no doubt about it; yet, nature is there, open to us when our other networks may be closed, ready to carry our load for a while. It is officially Spring today so let’s celebrate the return of the season of hope, growth, renewal and new beginnings.
Keep safe and well. Stay connected. Life goes on.