Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Metaphor Monday: Spring is a Metaphor for Transitions

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Yesterday, in my CT Watchdog post, I pondered how spring is a time of transition and we can often experience stress in our transitions in life and throughout our day. Today I’d like to explore the metaphorical opportunities of spring.

We wait a long time for spring in Northern, Vermont. There is still snow on the mountains and skiing and snowboarding to be had. The lowlands are flooding with the snow melt and signs of spring are just starting to emerge.

Spring moves from lifelessness to life and we move from lifelessness to life in each cycle of breathing.

Spring is an especially volatile time in Vermont. It can snow, rain, and then sun within a few moments of each other. The wind can howl and does. It is cold at night and the warmth is shy. In Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness I likened this volatility to our moods that likewise can be changing in reaction to events both external and internal.

If we know change is going to occur we are in a better place to accept it. If we expect things to stay constant we are vulnerable to frustration, disappointment, and resistance.

Spring is also a metaphor for forgiveness. Whatever happened in the last season, life begins anew with no carryover resentment from the past. Spring reminds us, as Pema Chodron says, to start where we are.

Spring also teaches us to lean into the future with a sense of optimism. We can imagine the warmth and the freedom that will come from moving through the world scantily clad. (And it would also serve us to remember how we long for warmth at winter’s end and not to complain when it is 90 degrees and humid).

Spring shows us the cycle of living and dying on a bigger scale do. Everything comes into being and goes out of being — changing its form. Ruki is now ashes. Spring invites us not to become attached to things, even the most precious things in our life.

How can we be not be attached to something that is precious? The invitation is to love things wholeheartedly with the awareness that they will not be with us forever. And, indeed, we, ourselves, will not be here forever. The invitation is to not be afraid to grieve when that grief becomes necessary. Grief is, at times, the admission price to the present moment.

The renewal of spring is the healing from grief, from the inexorable impermanence of things.

Spring also demonstrates the tenacity of life and encourages us to persist in whatever we are doing.

So welcome spring and your multifaceted metaphors for mindful living!



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Student

    I appreciate these thoughts from a fellow Northern Vermonter. I have been experiencing some transition stress when I see the sun shining outside and I am still working and I, too, remind myself in the 90 degree sweats that in one half turn of the year, I will be in boots and hat and long underwear. And I also relate to grief being, sometimes, the admission price to the present moment. The fleeting nature of each breeze and bloom of each crocus reminds me to look forward to the next small season marker: the locust tree that blooms in early June, the summer dress and sandals by the door.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Seeker

    With the greatest respect, half the globe is now LEAVING summer .. a little culture-centric?

    • Dr. Arnie Kozak

      You are absolutely right, of course! It’s not just culture-centric, it’s ego-centric. I’m writing about what I am experiencing. It reminds me of the way globes are represented. From the perspective of outer space north and south are arbitrary, so the Northern Hemisphere would not be above the Southern Hemisphere. It’s also the case that most of my readers are in the Northern Hemisphere. So my apologies if you are down under (even that phrase is arbitrary!). If you are transition into winter, you can read my previous posts from the fall. Thanks for pointing this out!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment My Name

    As usual, some will always manage to find a point of conflict. In some parts of the globe, spring won’t be here for another 9 months. I don’t think this is what the message above is all about.

    And if you want to make it applicable … isn’t autumn a time of transition, too? And don’t other things wake up and yet other things go to sleep at this time?

    For those who like to gripe … find your peace, folks, instead of wasting your time convincing others to lose theirs.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment JH

    Thank you so much for these words, as they are incredibly timely in my life. I am currently going through a painful transition that I didn’t see coming–my husband and I have separated–and the need to be mindful and not be attached is a struggle. Luckily, he and I are working at remaining caring and loving friends, and this is a blessing. However, the pain of loss and the death of what we were and could have been is difficult to experience.

    I love your line, “Grief is, at times, the admission price to the present moment.” I think this is quite poignant, as I understand that my grief, like the Winter, will depart in time, and bring about the opportunity for Spring to arrive in my heart. Thank you again.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kelly Walker Bond

    Thank you for your words on Spring. Your below comments particularly spoke to me,

    “Spring invites us not to become attached to things, even the most precious things in our life.

    How can we not be attached to something that is precious? The invitation is to love things wholeheartedly with the awareness that they will not be with us forever. And, indeed, we, ourselves, will not be here forever. The invitation is to not be afraid to grieve when that grief becomes necessary. Grief is, at times, the admission price to the present moment.”

    In September of 2010, my family of five (my husband of 19 years, our 3 children, and I) were hit head-on by a 21 year old speeding driver who lost control of his vehicle (began hydroplaning in the rain)on the 2 lane highway on which we were travelling home from a visit with my husband’s parents. My husband died instantly upon impact. One of our children, our middle child- our son Cooper, died about 4 hours later during surgery. Peter, my husband, had just turned 45 in July. And our son Cooper was only 10 years old, a 5th grader. Our son Ben and our daughter Abby (and I) survived the accident. As you can imagine, we are still completely grief-stricken over our loss of Peter and Cooper. The accident happened in a split second. We had them, fully, one moment, and the next moment… they were GONE as we had known them before. It talks in the Bible of not getting attached to earthly things/people/etc. God’s Word also bids us to keep our eyes on the unseen, on the eternal things. And reminds us over and over, again, that our time on this earth is short- so brief- in relation to eternity. Ben, Abby, and I have a long walk still ahead of us in this valley of grief. But we do know that Cooper and Peter are just fine where they are. And we do understand, at least in our moments of logical thinking, that we cannot (could not) expect to keep Peter and Cooper here on earth with us forever. But we will see them, again, when forever comes to the rest of us. Thank you, again, for your comforting/enlightening words about how we can choose to “look” at Spring in a BIG PICTURE kind-of way. Your thoughts/words were helpful to me today.

    • Dr. Arnie Kozak

      Hello Kelly. I am sorry for your loss and glad to know you found some comfort in my post. That heartens me. Thank you for sharing your story. With blessings and gratitude, Arnie.

  • Pingback: DESTRESS: When “Losing It” May Be Finding It | Connecticut Watchdog

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