My intention is to blog once a season about Life Practices in order to share what I am practicing in my life, and to suggest opportunities to join me, as well as ideas to use in your own practice.
Summer Solstice reminds us to “celebrate and relish all of life’s pleasures by drinking them into every cell of our bodies.” (From Sara Avant Stover, The Way of the Happy Woman, p.135.) The daylight hours have been growing since Winter Solstice, each day becoming slightly longer until now, when seen from the North or South Poles, the sun reaches its highest position in the sky and appears to stand still (Latin “sol” or sun and “sistere” or to stand still). In 2013, the Summer Solstice occurs at 12:04 am CT on June 21st.
Especially with such a late Spring this year in Minnesota, the full return of Summer is a time for great celebration! We find ourselves invited out into the abundant, fertile, hot, and colorful magic of nature’s glorious embrace. Our senses on high, we can deeply nourish our cells, severely depleted from a long Winter and late Spring. We breathe in the many scents—of blooming flowers, rich earth, and barbecuing food. We taste the succulent, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cool, refreshing drinks of the season. We see the abundant forms of beauty all around us—in nature and in each other’s radiance. We hear the sounds of flourishing human and animal life. And we touch and are touched by the earth under our bare feet and hands, by the soft, warm air on our skin, and by our friends and lovers….Everything is blossoming into ripeness, coming into its fullest expression.
The challenge of Summertime is to really experience this magical plenitude, and not get caught up always chasing after more of this yummyness, thus missing out on the beauty and bounty that is right here. The last few lines of Mary Oliver’s poem When I Am Among the Trees remind us to land: “Around me the trees stir in their leaves / and call out, ‘Stay awhile.’ / The light flows from their branches. / And they call again, ‘It’s simple,’ they say, / ‘and you too have come into the world to do this, / to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.’”
Can we really take in Summer’s abundance, savoring each taste with all five senses, so that we fill up and revitalize our bodies and souls? Even in the midst of full celebration, can we truly receive and relish in Summer’s magic, passion, and glorious light? Perhaps then we, like the trees in Oliver’s poem can “go easy,” “be filled with light,” and shine.
You may want to write in a journal, or try a short ritual alone or with friends that could include the following:
• Sitting on the earth if possible, light a candle, red or orange in color.
• Take a few deep breaths to land yourself in your body right here. Sense the earth beneath you, feel the air and warmth on your skin, take in the smells, sounds, and sights around you.
• When you feel landed, look around you and find one thing that captivates your attention, in which you find beauty. Breathe this into your body, heart, and mind. Allow the beauty to touch you, to fill you, to affect you in whatever way.
• Continue to breathe it in, savoring its essence, dropping any thoughts that arise, and allowing yourself to be filled with its light and to shine as long as you like.
• When you feel complete, say thank you and blow out the candle.
Remember that as this day comes to an end, the days will very slowly become shorter, until at Autumn Equinox, the day and night will be balanced, and by Winter Solstice, we’ll be back to the longest night. Savor and revel in the juicy passion of this Summer season! And local Minnesotans, please join us in a Summer Solstice Celebration at Unity Unitarian Church in St. Paul on June 21st at 7:00 pm. May you welcome and find grace in this changing of the seasons.
Collage as a Practice. My collaging seems to have slowed down recently as I pour more creative energy into other projects, especially the garden, which is also a sort of collage, I guess! Primordial Being explores the Source—the life-force energy, the wisdom, the mystery, the beingness that informs and moves my life. Its depth, dark unknownness, and instinctual movement is something I often avoid, and yet, it is this very life force that channels through me and out into the the world.
I felt this collage wanting to take form and looked for quite a long time to find the image that might be able to express the vast, primordial beingness that I was sensing within, not knowing how it would take shape. That’s actually one of the things I love about collaging—entering into the unknown of what will come together to embody a deep yearning for expression an exploration…
How do you approach the unknown? Do you have practices that help you touch and explore it?
Celebrating & Savoring Pleasure: A Half-Day, Summer Women’s Retreat. Align yourself with the seasons, a Feminine form of spiritual practice. Summertime invites us to rejoice in our love of life in all its forms. Retreat-time helps us to slow down so that we can really savor and celebrate the pleasures of the season, thus connecting with our natural joy and gratitude. Listening to the wisdom of all three Centers—body, heart, and mind—we will engage in practices such as ritual, reflection, movement, laughter, and inquiry. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary.
Sunday, August 18th from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. For more information, see our calendar.
What do you do to help you slow down and savor your life? How do you build it into your life?
Laughter as a Happiness Practice! Come explore the art of laughter to invite more joy, play, and wellbeing into your life! Because of the deep pranayamic breathing exercises, this form of practice is also called Laughter Yoga, but it does not include any physical asanas and can be practiced by people of all ages who are willing to be a little bit silly. It was started in 1995 by a family physician in India and is now widely practiced in over 65 countries around the world. Medical research supports its physical and emotional health-giving effects.
I am a Certified Laughter Yoga leader, and I lead the Summit Hill Laughter Club, which meets two Wednesdays/month, June-September 2013 at St. Paul Yoga Center: 6/19, 7/3, 7/17, 8/7, 8/21, 9/4, 9/18 from 7:30-8:30 pm. No registration required, donations for use of the space accepted. Please contact me if you have any questions—I would love to laugh with you!
How do you consciously bring more happiness and joy into your life?
Reverending/Ceremony. I absolutely love performing ceremonies that bring more honoring of our intentions and love into the world! This picture and the above laughing picture are from a wedding I performed, and I facilitate the Seasonal Celebrations like Summer Solstice at Unity Unitarian Church.
On July 28th at 10:00 am I’ll be serving as Worship Leader for Unity Unitarian Church, offering a service entitled What’s Up With the Goddess? How does the resurgence of teachings focused on the Goddess have relevance for us today? As Sobonfu Somé clarifies, these are not “new age” teachings, but “ancient age” teachings. We will explore how the qualities and manifestations of the Goddess are necessary for living a balanced and whole life today.
Let me know if I can assist you in honoring any transitions or special moments in your life—Weddings, Baby Blessings, Seasonal and Transitional Rituals, Memorial Services… You can read more about my practice of ministry.
Have you attended any celebrations or ceremonies recently? What about the ceremony touched you and invited you into a deeper place of contact with the sacred?
And you — what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down —
papers, plans, appointments, everything —
leaving only a note: “Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.”
—excerpt from Lynn Ungar’s Camas Lilies
Joyful and Blooming Summer Blessings, Katy Taylor, Wholeness Mentor