As we approach the Summer Solstice, our opportunities to commune with nature keep growing, in variety and duration. My cats have been rousing me with their urgent cries to go outside, into the long dawn, and do whatever cats do in these secret, quiet hours. Near the 49th parallel, where I live, the birds are chirping at 3:30 these days and the hardcore gardeners keep weeding until after 10 pm. It feels quite natural to be outside all these hours.
When I go out, the vast lushness is almost overwhelming. Every leaf broadens to shovel-size, the flowers, in their infinite variety, gather with their girlfriends, all in the same outfit, just to enjoy each other’s beauty. In my yard, crimson strawberries peek out from behind their leafy parasols, daily surprising me with their generosity of color and sweet flavor. If I look closely, each berry has hundreds of seeds for me. Do I need anything more than this small offering?
Along with more access to nature, we now have more access to our beloveds. I will be traveling with two of my favorites, my daughters, the next two weeks, and we’ll visit some of our chosen family. During these sunnier months, many of us like to venture outside, especially after our long confinement.
It’s natural to give up our indoor practices, like yoga and mediation, but I encourage you to keep in touch with yourself through these habits, just adjusting to the new conditions. Darwin said that our greatest strength as humans is our adaptability, and we can keep growing, like the cedar trees, to keep the light in our lives, regardless of the obstacles.
Short and sweet practices can really sustain us. My teacher, Djuna Devereaux, says that a 5-minute daily āsana practice will yield more body awareness than a long practice once a week.
The same is true of meditation and I think this can be applied to loving relationships as well – just check in with a cuddle or a text regularly, and keep that warm flow of oxytocin nourishing your system. Imagine your psyche as landscape, and irrigate it regularly so it doesn’t feel neglected or dry.
Poetry is the short and sweet medium for me. It’s like a little nibble of deluxe dark chocolate – you don’t need much, and it keeps unpacking itself to reveal nuanced nods to reveries, memories and inquiries. Again, I’m going to share from the Radiance Sutras, Sutra 56:
Oceans embrace a continent.
Space welcomes the sun.
Embrace yourself this generously.
Form your arms into a circle
And cherish the arising of serenity.
Attend the birth of something new.
Thoughts dissolve into peace,
As you become the One who embraces All.
“The One who embraces All” -that’s what I’m going for, in all of my endeavors. Can we take an inspiration like this and thread it through all we do, say and even think? To lean into yoga therapy’s wisdom, we could make a gesture, like the one suggested in the sutra, like forming your arms into a circle. This could be your reminder of what you really want from life. It is small in size and maybe duration, but it packs the whole punch of all you want.
You might also choose your 5 favorite yoga poses and make a short practice you could sneak in, here and there. You might pick all seated poses, so you can do them while you’re on a road trip. Maybe you like reclined postures, those you could do while you’re still in bed. What if you incorporated your gesture, like the arms in a circle? It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or challenging, just keep that thread in your daily life.
Mediation could be shortened to noticing one breath. In the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction practices, we learn to incorporate pauses into everyday activities. I chose the moment I touched the bathroom doorknob to exit, as a time to pause, take a breath, then move into the next thing. What daily activity might work for you?
Give yourself the chance to have a more fulfilling summer, by continuing to stay connected to yourself. This ultimately will connect you to other beings, as well as the extended world.
I will be away for the next two weeks, so find a way to sustain yourself in my absence! Ha ha. You can always go to my website and read past blogs if you get really thirsty!
Be well, and Happy Solstice!
I am delighted to be able to offer scholarships again for yoga therapy. Please don’t be shy if you are in need of support or if you know anyone who you could refer to me for stress relief. Likewise, if you’re moved to support this program as a donor, please contact me.
Remember that my website has all my past newsletters, recorded meditations and videos to support your mental health. Please visit CatEnrightYogaTherapy.com.