Rebirth - A Matter of Life and Death

Ahhh...spring! Springtime has been gorgeous in its unfolding here in the northern hemisphere. Right here at our lakeside home in central North Carolina, the trees and bushes have had extended blooms, despite a brief dip into below-freezing temps. Birds--in the water and out--are flitting and diving to impress potential mates. They line up on the edges of the feeders like hungry folks at a buffet, storing energy for reproduction and parenting in the days ahead.

Pink Azaleas Abloom

Pink Azaleas Abloom

Many of us humans are delighted at the return of the sun's warmth. Seeds and seedlings await planting into the thawed soil; blossoms on fruit trees and rose bushes are ready to unfurl in the growing heat of the day. Beauty abounds!

Yet, as nature springs back to life in gorgeous ways, it has not been without sacrifice. Last fall, the green leaves waned until, with brilliant then fading colors, they died and were released from the life of the trees. The chatter and activity of woodland animals fell silent as they nestled tightly through the winter's cold. Birds, even butterflies, flew to warmer climes until spring's thaw called them instinctively back.

In nature, life and death are a circle. Without one, there is not the other. That which is born will die. That which dies makes room for that which is yet to be born. There is no doubt, no resistance to shedding the old to make room for the new.

The same is true for the world's ancient and contemporary religious traditions. Many, if not all, religions have a destroyer either in the form of a separate god or as a trait of their one god. Celtic tradition has Badb, Dagda, and the more widely known, Morgan LeFay; the Norse have the god, Hel (hmm...). There's Angra Mainyu, Anat, Erra, and Yam. Kali, Perses, Emma-hoo, and Shiva.

Lord Shiva Dancing by Somu Padmanabhan

Lord Shiva Dancing by Somu Padmanabhan

The Christian tradition doesn't escape the cycle of life and death, either. In fact, much of Christianity is built on the ability of its central figure, Jesus, to overcome his death through rebirth and resurrection.  Destruction was typically brought about by one named Satan, who was also known as Abaddon, Apollyon, or Lucifer in the Hebrew tradition.

The One G-d of the Hebrews gets in on the act of destruction as well! We read of cities that were burned to the ground at the very command of this G-d. People were turned into stone or salt pillars; plagues and punishments were invoked to convince those doomed to suffer that a new choice was being demanded of them.

So, what's all that got to do with life as we know it so many millennia later? Good question! The truth is that even now, we humans are all about this awe-inspiring, awe-filled, awe-full cycle of life and death. And not just the cycle that begins with the birth of a human and a grave ending sometime down the road.

Eating, we gnash plant (and animal) life with our teeth. Our digestive systems shred the foods we swallow into smaller and smaller pieces until our bodies can convert those lives into energy for our lives. The fires in our bellies, the wind in our lungs, the blood in our veins are all involved in releasing the old and vitalizing the new. So much so that in 7 years' time, every single cell in our bodies has gone through a life-death-rebirth cycle.

Psychologically, spiritually, even mentally, we are likely not the same person we were in the past, either. We use creativity, curiosity, imagination, even anger and frustration, to find new solutions to old problems. We shift our approaches and adjust our perspectives as we grow in our abilities to tackle life's challenges.

As destroyers, we annihilate old beliefs that no longer serve us. We conquer fears and foes. We eliminate old habits, like codependency and control. We weed the gardens of our minds so that healthy thoughts and ways of being can grow in brighter light and richer soil. We unravel the dropped stitches of mistaken thoughts and patterns of self-sabotage to create better ways of being.

We humans can consciously participate in our own daily life-and-death cycles, the ones that modern-day psychologist and author, Robert Sardello, calls "incremental deaths." We can choose to release, dare to destroy that within our spirits that chokes out new growth. We can set our intentions and direct our thoughts to those things which feed our souls and starve off what doesn't sustain us.

In learning to consciously take part in the cycles of life, death, and rebirth, begin by exploring what you're ready to release. What patterns, processes, or thoughts need to be shed so that newness can find its place within you? Don't try to bite off lifelong habits in your first attempts. Start with something small that allows you to be gentle with yourself as you get the hang of being a conscious destroyer!

Once you know what you're ready to shift into new life, identify some small steps that will take you closer and closer to an incremental death. What if you want to destroy your digital game playing habit? You might set a timer to begin limiting the length of time you're playing. Or, limit the number of times you access the games each day.

If you tend to snack too much or too often, a small step might be to simply write down what you eat when and your moods at the time (there's an app for that, you know!). If you worry too much, reflect on the fears that might be hiding behind your anxious thinking. You could participate in the circular thoughts that keep you up at night by journaling.

As you approach an incremental death with less fear and trepidation, you make room for rebirth without the pressure of defining the end result. New life, new patterns are free to unfold once you've drawn closer to eliminating an old behavior. As gently as the dawning of spring falls upon the earth, you too can slowly, but surely, make your way toward your own blossoming.

To get to a place of rebirth when it comes to killing off your overuse of digital games, the next step might be to identify more desirable activities to replace them altogether (like reading, writing, or creating). Give yourself 5 to 10 minutes at the same time each day as a great start.

Once you've identified your eating patterns, a step toward rebirth might mean shifting one snack or a single meal toward healthier foods. Replacing worry with other thoughts, find affirmations, music, poetry, or anything else that will plant seeds of beauty and truth in the place of anxiety.

New life for all these examples could grow out of a list of projects and activities that have fallen to the wayside as you picked up other behaviors in their place. You can do some of everything on your list as you explore what new energies are being stirred from the possibilities of rebirth.

What's Next? Artwork by Sarah Petty

What's Next? Artwork by Sarah Petty

If you feel the need for assistance in figuring out where and how to begin a life-and-death-rebirth process, that's what I'm here for. As an intuitive counselor, my discernment is specifically aimed at helping you identify what's next for you, then providing specific action steps you can take to get there. You're never alone in this thing called life, nor in your exploration of intentional life, death, and rebirth.