We are fast approaching summer’s end. Early summer invited us outside, where the sun’s vital energy is easily accessible, Nature’s gifts are abundant, and physical activity flows more easily into our lives. The warmth of early summer relaxes and softens the muscles and inspires more movement, helping to pacify the heavy, moist, “phlegmy” Kapha of spring.
The end of summer, however, can be a time of literal and figurative burn-out, especially for those of us who may be prone to over-activity and trying to pack it all in (us pitta-dominant folks know who we are!). And this year, with the influence of the pandemic, we are all pushed much closer to our breaking point.
From this vantage point, we may recognize this moment in the year requires balancing output and activity with ample rest and turning inward if we want to get through it in one piece.
Before the modern invention of air conditioning, everyone HAD to move slower in summer as a matter of survival. In the peak midday heat, you stopped activity, got under some shade, and relaxed. Siesta is a wise response to Nature’s summer-time demands – and it’s an absolute necessity this year.
The body has not evolved as fast as our technology and neither has the mind. In summer heat, we benefit greatly by balancing our output with regular, well-timed periods of rest – and not working on emails or reading while our body is still, but actually putting the mind in a state of repose as well. This is how the old-fashioned bodily system must replenish itself. By late August, if we haven’t paced ourselves and given enough space for not-doing, we tap out and set ourselves up for illness. This is true now more than ever.
Many of us, unfortunately, have forgotten where the “off” switch is. We’ve been on overdrive for so long, we no longer hear the signals from the body and mind that let us know it’s time for some R&R. Many clients come to see me concerned about low energy levels, and when we get into their daily routines, we discover there is no fallow time – no time when neither the mind nor the body are asked to perform.
We NEED regular doses of receptive stillness in order to heal, restore, detoxify, and even to digest fully. In truth, we need this spaciousness and balance all year round – but especially in summer. And this summer, for ALL the reasons, we need it even more, and it may feel even more elusive. It may be hard to truly let down your guard and be still.
The good news? It’s never too late to rest. For these last few weeks of summer, if you haven’t already, schedule in some real rest. Create some stay-cation time. Set aside a few hours – or a whole DAY! – and try some of these ideas…
- Lie down on the earth after sunset and look up at the sky.
- Sit by a stream, or ocean, or even a pool with splashing kids and listen to the water.
- Hold a “mocktail hour” and gather with loved ones to sip a yummy limeade and sit still.
- Do some beach reading, even if you’re at home – a silly, fun book or, better yet, a magazine.
- Lounge in a hammock, call an old friend and have a live phone conversation, or write an actual letter.
- Snuggle up next to a sleeping pet and let your breath slow down.
- Get out a piece of paper and write your OWN list of restful ideas and post it somewhere to remind you of the importance of rest.
Give your body and mind the rest they need on a regular basis – and when you are feeling low, give more rest. When we move in cycles as Nature does, making space for quiet and stillness, in time we experience a corresponding up-tick in energy, productivity and pure enjoyment. We were not built to be one-speed machines. Be a good “boss” and give yourself a summer break.