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Summer Solstice: A Call to Lighten Up

Summer Solstice: A Call to Lighten Up

Ah…it’s finally here: the summer solstice. The longest day of the year and shortest night, the day when the entire northern hemisphere finally lightens up.

With the summer solstice comes light, warmth and joy, but also a little chaos. It seems that when the kids are out of school, your regimented schedule goes out the window. You see parents everywhere congregate mainly to commiserate about not having enough for their kids to do. The season that is supposed to bring you the most pleasure ends up exacerbating your stress levels.

We get it…you’re really busy

As yoga practitioners, we come to our mats to find serenity amidst life’s many storms. We’re invited to slow down, notice our thoughts and merge with our experience of what’s happening right now. But in the modern day of Apple watches and FitBits, we’re focused on everything but the present moment. So we’re more concerned with detoxing last night’s martini or burning calories to make space for this weekend’s lavish dinner that we forget to appreciate the beauty of the now. The beauty that is the human body with all of its curves and scars and flab and wrinkles.

Silhoutte holding hands up to brightly lit sunrise.Raised in a society that over-glorifies hard work and effort, many westerners take their yoga practice quite seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they often don’t enjoy it. People freak out when there’s a last minute sub for their favorite class. They’re up in arms when someone takes their favorite spot three inches to the left of the center mirror. The nerve of some people!

Now don’t get it wrong. The long-standing spiritual tradition that is yoga should be regarded with the utmost reverence. You should take seriously your quest of enlightenment and self-inquiry through the eight limb path. You should not leave your mat feeling inept because you couldn’t handstand, inadequate because you didn’t burn enough calories or infuriated because the room was one degree cooler than you prefer.

So why is this? The very practice that is supposed to calm us down makes us even more stressed. Summer is our chance to let loose and have fun, yet all we can talk about is how busy we are. Why can’t we sit back and enjoy life as it comes? Because we all need to lighten the %&*# up.

We’re all going to die someday, so each moment mattersStonehenge at sunrise on summer solstice.

Time is a limited and valuable resource. We’re all going to die someday, so each moment matters. How we choose to spend our time, therefore, is the most important decision we’ll make—over and over again.

You might notice the chatter in your lower mind is more negative than it is positive. This is known as the negativity bias, and as PhD psychologist Rick Hanson describes, “the brain is like velcro for negative experiences but teflon for positive ones.” In other words, you could have a thousand loving experiences with a dog, but if the dog bites you once, that’s what you’ll remember.

You can choose whether to spend your life overwhelmed by joy or frustration. When all you talk about is your busy schedule, your reality will be shaped by stress and worry. Yoga teaches you to become aware of your fluctuating thoughts so you can consciously choose what to focus on and let everything else roll on by. As you learn to reshape your thoughts, you reconstruct your reality.

The stars are telling you to lighten up

Breathe, relax and count your blessings the next time you feel stressed. Don’t cling to the dark, negative, meaningless minutia. “At the solstice, the planet Mercury will be in a harmonious conversation with the planet Neptune,” predicts Helene Cierzo from Heart House Astrology. “We will be in a more optimistic and hopeful mindset now. Remember to be the light for others, celebrate the people in your life that nurture you and help cultivate a sense of belonging.”

Woman with wide open arms in field on summer solstice.“The solstice is the celebration of the light,” adds Cierzo. “It is a good time to [enjoy] life with those that are dear to you.” The 2018 summer solstice is June 21, which is also International Yoga Day. To celebrate, Powerflow Yoga is hosting the 7th annual Yo-tiki celebration. We’ll close down Church Street in Montclair for a free outdoor yoga class. Come hang out with old friends and new, and bask in the good vibes.

Since the solstice is a spiritual party dedicated to the brighter days, we invite you to lighten up. Lighten up because being stressed out is such a snooze. Lighten up because we’re all going to die anyway.

Posted by

Michael Simpson

Michael Simpson

Michael’s teaching philosophy is rooted in science. As an anatomy and physiology major in college, Michael developed a keen understanding of the structure of the human body, and how exactly it is designed to move gracefully. He believes that the functional alignment of the body facilitates a truly meditative experience. Michael has been actively involved in the PFY community since 2013. He teaches several group classes at the Morristown, Chatham, Livingston, Clifton and Glen Rock studios and assists in the 200 hour teacher training programs.

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