Summer Solstice on Tuesday
On the Summer Solstice, Tuesday June 21st at 1:16 pm EDT, the Sun enters the zodiac sign of Cancer and summer officially begins. The yearly cycle of the Sun is similar to the monthly cycle of the Moon. Both remind us that we are rhythmic creatures. Our physical bodies have their own rhythms. Our hearts beat like a steady drum, and our breath gently brings the rising and falling of our chests, which gives the sensation of being rocked by the waves of the ocean. We live in communal rhythms of 9 to 5 jobs, Monday through Friday workweeks, and yearly rituals such as birthdays, anniversaries, and religious celebrations.
We are also part of the natural rhythms created by the Sun. The daily cycle of sunrise and sunset creates circadian rhythms that set our awake and sleep cycles. The Sun also creates the seasonal cycle that begins March 21 at the Spring Equinox, when the growing light stirs new growth (and our moods). Next comes June 21st, the Summer Solstice, when the abundance of heat provides the fullness of growth and when we spend the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. During the Fall Equinox of September 21st the Sun begins its decline and the days become shorter and colder and the earth produces the abundant harvest that we celebrate at Thanksgiving. And the last phase of the cycle begins on December 21st at Winter Solstice, when the cold and darkness take hold and seeds rest in the ground, and we rest in bed. And every year the Sun begins its cycle anew when the light of Spring again stirs the seeds to growth.
Participation in communal rhythms, like birthdays and New Year’s Eve, bring us into the emotional, spiritual, and physical bond of community. Likewise, the participation in the earth’s natural rhythms link us to the cosmos and heavens in a deep and profound manner that goes beyond intellectual understanding.
As a society we are losing touch with nature. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that children spend an average of 7 hours in front of entertainment media in a typical day. This is compared to the only 7 minutes the average child spends outside per day. And the night sky, which used to be such a powerful and awe inspiring part of our lives, has now become faded and nearly forgotten due to city lights and pollution. By remembering to move in rhythm with natural cycles of the Sun and Moon we re-tune ourselves to the harmony of the cosmos.
We need these natural and cosmic rhythms. We need these connections in order for our Body to slow down from the rush of an overactive life. We need these rhythms for our Mind to clear out the buzz of technology and bring back the sound of silence. But most of all, we need them for our Soul and Spirit. We have within ourselves a natural connection to a divine Spirit, and that connection is hard wired into us through our Soul. But the Soul and Spirit are subtle and quiet and are easily overshadowed by the increased noise of our Mind and Body. One way to remember our Soul and Spirit and provide them the stimulus they need to become central part of our existence, is to remember our connection to the cosmos and our link to the heavens, which we can do through these solar and lunar cycles.
To Do: Take some time around the Solstice to feel the rhythm of the cosmos. If you can, go outside at either sunrise or sunset when the Sun is moving though its daily cycle. Get comfortable, quiet your busily thinking mind, and slow down your breath. Then connect first to your own body and its rhythms. Feel the gentle beating of your heart, the rise and fall of your chest. Then listen to nature’s rhythms. One of my favorite ways to do this is through the songs of the birds as they sing the Sun awake in the morning, and sing the Sun back to sleep in the evening. Their chorus is one of the great joys available in this world (and its free!). All it takes is just a few moments of slowing down and getting in tune with the sounds and songs of nature. Repeat as needed. I think listening to the birds is one of the best meditations available.