All over the world, people from every culture and tradition are celebrating rebirth, renewal, and the freedom we have to grow and transform. The older we get, we start noticing the effort it takes to cross the desert with nothing but a bland giant saltine and the hardship required for those poor bunnies to pop out chocolate eggs.
Woven in ancient and modern teachings are rituals and stories that speak of sacrifices that must be made for this new life to spring forth. They ask us to reflect on what responsibility we have to free ourselves and others from the chains that prevent us from flourishing.
Even taking the time to acknowledge the chains that shackle us is a win worthy of admiration. It’s easy to choose to keep ourselves too distracted and too busy to take notice of the patterns that keep us prisoners of our own habits and behaviors.
Who holds the key to our freedom? Does some pharaoh or other thing outside of ourselves have it? Or does our past unresolved sadness keep it? Or do our unfaced fears of the future carry it? Or maybe the stubbornness of our egos has it jingling on their keyring? Only we know what holds us down.
For those locks to be cracked, we have to first hold the vision that there is hope for us. And as long as we’re breathing—there IS! What would it feel like to feel free and joyful in our bodies? To feel good about our relationships? To feel free and fulfilled and lead a life that feels self-satisfying? The more clearly we envision what that looks and feels like, the easier it is for us to discover the path it takes to get there.
And that change needs to feel more important to us than staying the same. That’s why we often have to hit our version of “rock bottom” to recognize that the discomfort of changing to a healthier version of ourselves is better than the comfort of staying the same and suffering the consequences.
Even once we recognize how vital that change is, we need the confidence to know that within us we have the ability to reach our goals, one step at a time. It can be discouraging if we tried to plant new seeds of change before and for whatever reason, those seeds sprouted but withered before developing a deep root structure.
The deeper the root of a habit is, the harder it is to rip out. It’s actually easier to focus on slowly and methodically planting and nurturing new habits until the old ones get crowded out. And the more time we spend with fellow gardeners with the habits we want to grow, the easier it is for those seeds to germinate and take root.
Reminding ourselves of our past successes in making changes or starting something new is one of the most potent fertilizers for our confidence. Surely by adulthood, we have all succeeded at setting a goal, making a plan, executing it and succeeding. Even if it was just planning a grocery trip, or dinner or a road trip or applying for a job or college. Success and failures have happened to all of us and happen daily in big and small ways. And the more we look at what factors contributed to each, the easier it will be to set ourselves up for another win.
We are always developing, growing, changing, and transforming. That’s the nature of nature. Layer by layer, year by year, we bloom, we evolve, we mature. And with mindful intention, we can freely grow into the free, fulfilled, joyful beings we were born to be growing peacefully in our own promised land.