For all cultures since the dawn of civilization spring has meant renewal. After a long winter it is comforting to see the buds on the bare trees and the daffodils heralding the new season even as the snow is still melting. For cities in the Southwest, we don’t often recognize the natural harbingers of the season of rebirth but many of our cultural and spiritual traditions still hold this place for us.
The Spring Equinox, more commonly referred to as the first day of spring, was March 20. Both the Christian and Jewish spring holidays are calculated based on the spring equinox. Did you know that Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox?
Jewish Passover and Christian Easter
It started with Passover, an eight-day festival celebrated in the spring. Passover honors the freedom that was granted by God to the Israelites who were slaves in Egypt. After the Pharaoh denied freedom to the Jewish people, ten plagues were set upon the Egyptians including the death of their first-born sons, a plague that passed over the homes of the Israelites. The traditions celebrated in modern day Judaism commemorate this liberation granted by God.
Easter, on the other hand, is a uniquely Christian observance. Its only connection to Passover is the establishment of the non-fixed date that would coincide with the Jewish month in which Passover was already celebrated. This date was determined by the Council of Nicaea in the year 325. Easter is the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Regardless of how different these celebrations are there is little coincidence that they both fall in the season of spring. Both are about freedom and renewal just like spring itself.
Hope and healing
At Holistic Pain we want to encourage our patients, regardless of their spiritual journeys, to honor the hope and healing energy that is ripe in the spring. Both of these holidays encourage a time of reflection. For Christians, they have spent the season of Lent reflecting on the meaning of God’s sacrifice and enter Holy week with a renewed energy. The celebration of Passover gives devout Jews the opportunity to reflect on their history and understand the hope that early Jewish mystics and martyrs had in the future of their faith.
For people dealing with chronic pain even the return of spring can’t always provide the hope they need to continue their struggle with their conditions. This is why we feel that a holistic approach is best to heal the mind, body, and spirit. To ignore the spiritual aspects of our healing is to deny ourselves an essential part of our well-being. Even for those not within the structure of Christian or Jewish faiths, there are plenty of natural symbols that represent renewal and rebirth this time of year that everyone can have access to the hope and healing of spring.
Spring as a time for growth
Late last year we wrote about seasonal affective disorder, a depression caused by the lack of sunlight during the winter months. While the winter solstice did mark the return of longer days, it isn’t usually until the spring equinox when people affected by SAD find some natural relief from their symptoms.
This is because the days are finally in balance. On the equinox, the length of the day and the night are the same and daytime hours will continue to increase until the summer solstice. In this way not only is spring a symbol for growth but a literal time for this change to occur.
Pain patients can use this increased time of daylight to begin to readdress some of their most challenging issues. Seek out new treatments to replace outdated models that aren’t working. Find time for moderate exercise. While honoring the change in the season and celebrating these spring holidays you can also talk to your doctor about improvements you can make to your routine and treatment to help you increase your comfort and standard of care.
How to find inspiration
The Pain Doctor website has started an initiative with their Pain-Spiration website. The site uses the popular Pinterest model to share news and information about hope for chronic pain patients. It also allows users to share their own inspirational story about finding relief from their chronic pain. Some of the Pain-Spiration pins on the page include articles about living with an invisible condition, a pain patient’s bill of rights, and multiple infographics about chronic pain.
Besides this Pain Doctor site, you can also create a hope and inspiration board on Pinterest. Not only can you pin helpful articles or graphics about controlling or relieving pain, you can include inspirational quotes or photos that can inspire and provide hope.
Another great source for hope and inspiration is right in your community. Whether you find like-minded people in your church or temple, or in other community activities, numerous studies have shown that people with a strong support group are healthier and happier. If you’re not able to find others in person, online support groups also offer the same benefits of not feeling alone in your struggle against chronic pain.
“Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.” –Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
If nothing else, you can use this spring season as a time for personal renewal. Recharge your batteries and take stock of your life. Determine what you can improve and take steps to improve it. There is help available for you.
Are you ready for spring?
Image by Natalia Wilson via Flickr