Spring Equinox: The Middle of Our Annual Inhalation

Editor’s note: Over the course of 2023, at the eight stations in the Wheel of the Year, Bart Everson will share with the Gaian community a guided, breath-based meditation. It is our hope that these meditations will help you to observe and to celebrate Gaia’s journey around the Sun, and to explore possible meanings embedded in various parts of the cycle. The particular meditation featured here is appropriate for the spring (or vernal) equinox, which falls in late March in the northern hemisphere and late September in the southern hemisphere. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, and it’s March, you may wish to listen instead to the fall equinox meditation.

Listen to Bart’s Meditation here or on Insight Timer or read the transcript below.
This mandala was created by Bart Everson with digital tools as a contemplative practice and a celebration of the spring equinox. Flowers and eggs are associated with spring as symbols of new life, and the background pattern represents the transition from the dark half of the year into the light.

Transcript of the Spring Equinox Meditation

This meditation is dedicated to Mother Earth, the mother of us all, and to the equinox — the vernal equinox in particular. 

Of course, the equinox is a global moment. At this particular time, the sun rises due east and sets due west, and day and night are roughly equal. The vernal equinox comes on or around March 20th in the northern hemisphere, on or around September 21st in the southern hemisphere. It’s that point at which we tip into the light, from that point of balance. From this point forward, day will be longer than night, and it’s often observed as the beginning of spring and sometimes celebrated as Ostara and many other observations I’m sure. Persians observe this as the New Year, Nowruz. 

The sound you’re hearing in the background are spring peepers in a pool in Maine. These are a type of frog; their chirping is said to mark the beginning of spring. They start up as soon as the ice melts in the wetlands. Thank you to Bud Jillett for the recording

How can something so little be so loud? (Photo from Kevin Enge via flickr)

So for this meditation it’s best to sit comfortably with an erect spine. We might begin with a little “spring cleaning,” so to speak, just taking a deep breath in through the nose and exhaling quickly through the mouth a few times. 

And then let your breath settle into its natural rhythm, and gently bring your attention to your breath, just to observe the breath, just to see what it’s like, how it is. Notice the circular, cyclical nature of your breath.

Drawing breath in, and letting breath out. The cycle of our breath is similar to the cycle of the Earth, moving around the Sun. Days are getting longer, and days are getting shorter, and days are getting longer again. Breathing in, breathing out, and breathing in again. 

Our inhalation is similar to the lengthening of days, the waxing of the light. And the vernal equinox? Well, that’s the moment right in the middle of the inhalation, a passing, fleeting moment when your lungs are half-full of air. 

Springtime is kind of like the inhalation of the Earth. All the natural forces have been slumbering through the winter, kind of curled up tight and ready to spring forth. That’s why we call it spring. And at this moment, it may feel like an inhalation before the great burst of activity, of new life. 

So, that inhalation, in our breath, can be an analog to springtime. What can we learn from it? What wisdom can we find in our inhalation? With each breath, we’re accepting air into our body, into our lungs, to become part of us. With each inhalation, we’re drawing something from outside of us into our very being. 

We can cultivate this kind of acceptance intentionally, in our meditation. As we observe our breath, maybe there are other thoughts, distractions, feelings, sensations that arise. We can accept all of these inputs, all of this stimulus, all of these thoughts, feelings, emotions. We can greet them with an openhearted spirit of acceptance, without judgment. 

We can accept whatever arises within our experience and simply return our attention gently to the breath, again and again. 

Feel free to peep as you breathe if you’d like… (Photo from Ryan Hagerty/USFWS via flickr)

And the moment of the equinox? We might see it as a special invitation, not merely to practice this acceptance, but also to reflect on what it means to accept, and even to exercise discernment — about how we live our lives, and what we welcome into our lives, what we accept, what we take into our bodies, into our minds, into our being, into our daily lives. Not just in meditation, but when the meditation is done. How will we carry this spirit forward? What will we accept? What will we bring in? If we think of the air that we’re breathing, we want the air that we breathe to be pure and clean. And in the same way, in much of our life, we might examine our choices, to see if we’re bringing into our lives that which will make us healthy, happy, which will help us to thrive. 

Sometimes this is, paradoxically, through a process of subtraction. We might be inspired to give up unhealthy habits, habits of mind, habits of body. We can affirm our desire to make healthy choices, to make happy, responsible, ethical choices in our lives. 

We can affirm even with each breath. You might simply think of a word or a phrase affirming your resolve, affirming your desire. With each breath: wellness, happiness, or a phrase, “I desire to make healthy choices.” And if you like, you might even visualize these intentions as something which you can hold, cupped in your hands: an egg, a symbol of life, a symbol of new life, a symbol of spring, fragile, and yet strong at the same time. You’re holding your intentions, gently, carefully, bringing them to life. Carrying them forward into your life, your best intentions, for this day, for this season.

And, finally, it’s always appropriate to remember our gratitude for receiving this moment, our gratitude to our ancestors, both material and spiritual, to all our friends and fellow travelers.  Thank you, and I wish you a happy Ostara and a blessed vernal equinox.

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