I incorporate stillness amidst the busy, positive energy of the season
Summer is a season of spontaneity. It’s always seemed to shun the necessities of schedule and routine. Maybe that’s a holdover from school days ending and giving way to wide open spaces filled by daylight, when I’d spend hours riding loops around the neighbourhood on my bicycle’s banana seat and then still have time left to devour the latest Nancy Drew while staining my lips with orange popsicles.
Even now, well into adulthood, it’s hard to pin things down in summer. When I was starting out in the wellness space, a friend and experienced personal trainer shared with me (thank you! 🤗 ) that the industry lives on what’s earned between September and June. Many people disappear to campsites and cottages for weeks at a time or just to a blanket in the park with a book. Everyone moves light and easy and likes to keep things open for whatever interesting invite arrives or outdoor activity calls to them.
Summer is said to be associated with the element of fire and a time of joy and vitality. Fire lights us up, is the life of the party, giving us a warm glow. After a slow building Spring, fire burns in our hearts as we see the fruition of our vision and goal seeds. And yet, for all its positivity, summer’s fire can quickly burn out of control.
In these lazy days, I also find myself easily swayed. The heat makes me impatient and yet the optimistic sunshine encourages me to try one new hobby after another. Like a bumblebee, I flit from flower to flower, one idea to the next without ever really going deep or getting much of anything done.
In past years, I would see a lack of balance show up with too many “yes” answers to backyard get-togethers, beach days, and new projects, and not enough “no, thank you” in favour of refocusing through journaling or meditation or sleep. With the forced slowing of certain aspects of our lives due to Covid-19 safety protocols, it seems even harder to say “no” after a prolonged period without; the fear of missing out (FOMO) is high in my awareness.
I stay healthiest though when I include stillness in my day – even if it means being selective with social activities. I’ve learned that being still does not have to equal smothering the fire. Instead, I can continue to enjoy the bounty of summer while incorporating activities of balance.
The warm weather means I can move my meditation outside at sunrise. There’s the option to change it up and make it more seasonal. Rather than concentrate solely on my breath, I might bring my awareness to the sounds around me, listening to the birds, noticing what else is happening in my surroundings both near and far. As I attempt to focus on work, I will gratefully take intermittent breaks to visit the garden. I love to stand or walk barefoot in the grass. This is an incredibly grounding exercise known as earthing, which some believe has the ability to heal us through reconnection with the Earth’s electrons. Whether or not you believe that, there is something simply comforting and supportive to feel the ground. You don’t have to bury your fire with soil, but standing your ground like this can be the momentary stillness that keeps you from raging. Similarly, even if you aren’t an avid gardener, simply digging your hands into some soil can slow your roll.
In my yoga practice, I’m finding that paying close attention to the positioning and activation of the muscles in my feet and legs in standing poses gives me this needed balance and stillness. I’m placing a hand on my belly more often when I’m sitting for pranayama (breathing exercises) or in savasana to ensure I’m taking full diaphragmatic breaths since summer’s heat can lead me to shallow sips of air.
Finally, I am recommitting to a gratitude practice. I’m all for avoiding complexity (or too much work during summer break!) and so this is as simple as pausing for a moment before I turn the bedside light out. I mentally note, sometimes whisper to myself, three things that I’m grateful for each day. It reminds me that I’m not missing much at all. My fire, like the summer sun, is burning bright.