The season is changing. Finally, after a long winter and chilly spring we are seeing the sunshine again! The earth is beginning to renew itself all around us. The sun is shining, the animals are frisky, the flowers are blooming and delicate shoots of new plants are peeking up from the soil. This is all possible because Mother Nature does a lot of advance preparation. In the fall, the trees lose old leaves, making way for new ones come spring. Now the animals shed their winter coats preparing for warmer weather. Everywhere there is a clearing away of what’s no longer needed to make room for new growth.
As modern humans, we aren’t tied to the cycles of nature very much anymore. But, some of us may have seasonal rituals, such as spring cleaning, or moving heavy clothes to the back of the closet. Externally, we give attention to removing what we no longer need. But what about our internal space? Our minds are full of patterns, habits and coping methods that have developed over many years. At one time, they were necessary, but our lives and circumstances change constantly. What was once helpful may become obsolete, or even harmful.
Consider your internal landscape for a moment. Are there any habits or thought patterns that are no longer serving you? Have you felt blocked from taking positive steps in your life? Like the earth, we may need to purposefully clear away the old, dead leaves to make room for new shoots to emerge. Psychotherapy is the best way to become aware of outdated patterns, and to begin to create new, positive changes. But we can shift our internal energy to create the right environment for new growth.
Studies have shown that we can create powerful new connections in the brain during meditation. The technique below uses a combination of intention and mantra meditation, an ancient practice that calms the body and quiets the mind. The object of focus during this type of meditation is a mantra, which is simply a meaningful word or phrase.
Meditation to Clear Space for New Growth
1. Set aside 10 to 20 minutes for meditation practice. First thing in the morning or last thing at night are traditional, but the most important thing is to create a routine so meditation becomes a daily habit.
2. Find a quiet place where you’re unlikely to be disturbed, and take a comfortable seat. You may sit in a chair or cross-legged on the floor, but try to maintain an alert posture to stay focused. You may choose to set a timer, so you know when you’ve completed your meditation.
3. Start by setting an intention. Use your own words to express what you’d like to achieve. Some examples are: “I clear away what no longer serves me.” “I am open to new growth.” “I release the old and welcome the new.” Ideally, the phrase should be simple and easy to repeat.
4. Close your eyes gently, and focus your attention on your breath. Breathe in and out normally through your nose. Notice the sensation of air flowing in and out of your nostrils, calmly releasing any thoughts, just feeling the breath for several moments.
5. Now silently repeat your mantra along with your breath. You may find it most comfortable to think part of your mantra on the inhale, finishing it on the exhale, or repeat the entire phrase with each part of the breath. Do what feels relaxed and comfortable in your mind.
6. Continue to repeat your mantra while sitting comfortably and breathing quietly until your time is up. When your mind becomes distracted, know that it is natural and expected. Release the thoughts without judgment and gently refocus on your mantra and your breath. As many times as necessary.
7. When your time is up, breathe quietly for a few more moments, noticing how you feel, perhaps giving thanks for this time to take care of yourself.
Change is difficult for most of us. Be kind to yourself and recognize that old habits are deeply ingrained. But, by offering your intention to change, you are acknowledging a willingness to accept new growth. Watch for it in all areas of your life. It may be subtle at first, before suddenly springing forth in the space you’ve prepared for it.