Have you noticed a new “spring” in your step? Now that the Vernal Equinox is behind us spring has indeed sprung; daffodils are starting to sprout and birds have begun to sing. In addition to the force of Mother Nature, brain physiology may play a role in our renewed vigor.
In the winter our lack of exposure to sunlight causes the pineal gland in the brain to produce more melatonin, a chemical that is sleep-inducing. This may slow us down during the winter months, not unlike the phenomenon of animals in hibernation. As we move into spring, however, the days get longer and the sun’s rays become more direct. In response, the pineal gland produces less melatonin, leaving us feeling energized and renewed.
Spring ushers in nature’s rebirth. For thousands of years rites of spring, in a multitude of cultures, have acknowledged nature’s regeneration and bounty. Many of these celebrations involve discarding what’s old and ushering in what’s new. An example of this is found in the Persian new year which falls right on the Vernal Equinox. It’s called Nowruz and is preceded by a period of intense spring cleaning called “Khouneh Tekouni”, or “shaking down the house”.