life practices: summer solstice

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 notice and celebrate the full return of the light. The daylight hours have been growing since Winter Solstice, each day becoming slightly longer until the Spring Equinox in March, when the day and night were equal in length. Solstice comes from the Latin “sol” or sun and “sistere” or to stand still because, as seen from the North or South Poles, the sun reaches its highest position in the sky, coming to a stop, before reversing direction. In 2012, the Summer Solstice occurs at 6:09 pm CT on June 20th.

The abundant and radiant light of Summertime invites us into the outside world that is glorious, greening, bright, and rich with possibilities. It is often a time of play—and passion—and abandon. That which prepared itself in the mysterious darkness of our earthly bodysouls is now coming into creative expression in the full light of day!

Spiritual teacher and author Dawna Markova suggests in her book Wide Open: “If we only experienced passion, we would be bold beyond belief, but we would burn, burn, burn ourselves out in a rapturous relationship with the untamable within us. We also need the dark, the stillness, the quiet of the night for the stars and constellations to appear, the patterns of movement of the whole universe to be visible.”

We are at the peak of the sun’s passion. How can you enjoy your passion for being alive this Summer while remembering the need for the balancing embrace of the quiet and stillness? How do you build both into your days? Is there a way for the passion to lead to the stillness—and the stillness back to the passion? How do you allow both in your life? How does each feed you?

You may want to write in a journal, or try a short ritual alone or with friends that could include the following:
• Light a candle, red or orange in color;
• Name or make a list of all the vibrant, passionate, creative ideas, activities, and heart-journeys that you have or desire in your life.
• Now explore one or two of these and how they are supported by taking time for stillness, quiet, and rest.
• Sit quietly and breathe into your belly and heart, sensing the aliveness, passion, and juiciness there along with a solid, quiet, and restful sense of refuge.
• Continuing to breathe mindfully, allow a movement to arise and move your body in some way, big or small. And then allow that movement to settle back into the quiet stillness.
• When you are ready, 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! May you welcome and find grace in this changing of the seasons.

Summer Solstice Celebration, June 20th at 7:00 pm at Unity Unitarian Church! Join us in the Sanctuary for a contemplative, family-friendly, Celtic-inspired ritual to mark the turning of the year as the light reaches its peak and the seasons continue their cycle. This participatory ritual will include chanting, meditation, joys and sorrows, singing, and something special for the kids.

Due to the church renovation project, there are some important changes to be aware of: 1) There is no air conditioning, so dress lightly and bring a fan! 2) Enter through the door on Portland on the East side of the church or from the church parking lot (off Holly).

If you would like to participate as a ritual leader or in a facilitating capacity (greeter, set-up, etc.) for this June 20th ritual, please contact me!

Collage and Practice. This collage is an exploration of an image that came to me during an acupuncture session. My qi was low, so my acupuncturist invited me to imagine breathing in the sun and allowing its glow and strength to flow into me. As I was breathing, the image shifted: my heart was a sunflower, and I was breathing into that sunflower that was blossoming, radiant, full of light, strong, sturdy, and robust. On the exhale, that energy flowed through me to any place that needed healing, and I saw all the hands that support me with friendship, compassion, love, and gentleness surrounding and holding me.

With that healing image in mind, this collage came into being. Different from the way my mind’s eye saw it, collaging helped me to discover other parts of the process. Read more about what I discovered in the original post, sunflower breathing.

What helps you to discover more about yourself, to dive deeper into your inner experience? What images represent your inner world and life path right now?

Body/Nourishment. During this time of healing, I have been much more in touch with my body’s needs for true nourishment. One of the really enjoyable things I’m rediscovering is just how yummy and nourishing food can be! I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater compared to most, but to build my immune system, I decided to try an even healthier diet, including no sugar other than fresh fruit, no alcohol, very low dairy, and lots more vegetables, espeically leafy greens.

Instead of approaching this as a deprivation—what no dark chocolate? no sip of that awesome ale?—I was able to find an inner bow, a sense of devotion to myself and my wellbeing. I have had a number of beautiful experiences in which I not only love the taste of my food, but really savor it, tasting and sensing its nourishment as I eat it.

Here’s a practice to try, Savoring:
• Choose a small piece of fresh fruit that you love.
• Prepare it for your savoring with mindfulness.
• Sit down and first look at it very carefully, noticing all its particularities of color, shape, texture…
• Smell it and really take all the aroma in.
• Then touch it slowly and sense its texture and temperature. You might want to close your eyes for a deeper experience.
• Now bring it to your mouth, and take a small bite. Roll it around a bit in your mouth and notice how it feels and tastes before chewing.
• When you’re totally ready, chew slowly and savor this amazing, sweet nourishment from the earth.
• What if we always got that much detailed, pleasureful information from our food? Don’t you think our bodies would know what they need to be healthy?

How do you listen to your body’s call for nourishment? How mindful are you when you eat?

Summit Hill Laughter Club! 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. Children who come with their parents are welcome.

I am a Certified Laughter Yoga leader, offering a club every 2-3 weeks over the Summer at St. Paul Yoga Center at 1162 Selby Avenue. Please join us on Wednesdays June 27, July 11, August 8, and August 22 from 7:30-8:30 pm. No registration required and no fixed cost, by donation! Please contact me if you have any questions–I would love to laugh with you!

Reverending/Ceremony. I absolutely love performing ceremonies that bring more honoring of our intentions and love into the world! I recently performed a second Baby Blessing for a couple, and I’m preparing for two weddngs in July. This above laughing picture was from a wedding I performed last year. Let me know if I can assist you in honoring any transitions or special moments in your life. You can read more about my practice of ministry.

I am also leading worship at my church, Unity Unitarian, on Sunday, June 24th at 10:00 am. The topic is “Awakening Life.” The church is under renovation, so you can only enter from the parking lot handicapped entrance or the small door on the East side of the Sanctuary, up a few stairs. I’d love to see you there!

Summer Blessings, Katy

practice loving kindness

Author: Katy Taylor

I am a regular person, like you. I am an earth lover, a seeker, a singer, a gardener, a partner and friend. I have attended a lot of trainings and continue to do my work to grow and deepen and become a more loving person. If you're interested, you can read more about me on the About page.

4 thoughts on “life practices: summer solstice”

  1. I wish I lived near you, Katy, so that I could join all of you on June 20th at your church to celebrate the light at its peak. Have a lovely and loving time.


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