I’m a summer girl, born and bred. Give me a sunny day, a beach chair, a good book and a tall glass of ice tea and I’m in heaven. Nothing suits me more than languishing the days away like this. Even the tantalizing offer of a powerboat ride to view the shoreline, or an invitation to picnic on a sailboat can’t rouse me from my post. Nothing feels better to me than being planted in one place in the summertime.
That’s my summer rhythm - slow and sweet, long and lazy. Granted, I’m aware that this may not appeal to some folks. Many view summer as their time to party and play, or travel and traipse around the country. I appreciate the variety of ways that we connect with the unique opportunities summer provides. It seems to me that the key to savoring the season is finding your summer rhythm.
We all have an internal rhythm—a way that we think, move, or act that feels just right to us. Some folks are slow goers. Their gait is more smooth or fluid. Others jaunt along at a clip that offers cardiovascular benefits. Some folks like peace and quiet - the solitary life. Others thrive on activity - the hustle and bustle of life energizes them and they love being surrounded by people. Some folks don’t like noise. Others say, ‘Bring it on!’,the more stimulation the better.
Have you ever thought about your internal rhythm? Considered how fast you walk or talk? How much noise you like? How many people you prefer around you? If you have, the $1 million question is: Are you honoring your inner rhythm?
How do you know if you’re honoring it, you might ask? It’s simple really. If you feel anxious, rushed, short tempered, impatient or, in extreme cases, like you want to crawl out of our skin, or catch the next plane to Maui, you’re probably going against the grain—denying the natural rhythm your whole self desires—body, mind, heart and soul. If on any given day you feel centered, relaxed, focused, creative, grateful, or energetic, chances are you’re listening well to the inner voice that champions your inner rhythm.
I had a very powerful lesson in honoring my inner rhythm ten summers ago while on my honeymoon in Hawaii. I’d spent a delicious amount of time beach lounging and savoring the sights and thought I should introduce a bit of adventure to round out my week. (Note the “should.”) This inner urging took me by surprise as I am definitely not the adventurous type. If the truth be told, I’m pretty much a chicken about everything. No climbing heights, no deep dives, no dangerous sports would ever appear on my “Someday I’d like to...” list. However, for some mysterious reason, I felt an urge to explore, take a risk.
Against my better judgment, I threw caution to the wind and my husband and I went for a hike to a lava-laden, boulder strewn, ocean overlook with tide pools you could swim in. The view was beyond breathtaking, complete with large, wild sea turtles swimming in those blue-green ponds. The danger was that unexpected waves could appear any moment and wash everything and everyone out to sea. In my excitement to soak the scene in, I began scampering across the tops of the boulders like a mountain goat. Before I knew it, I was moving too fast and down I went, striking my head on an enormous lava rock. Within seconds, my life did flash before my eyes, just like they say it does, and I fought the fog of unconsciousness that came to claim me.
It was a miracle that I was able to hike back the mile or so it took to return to the car. It was also a miracle that, with as hard as my head hit, I had only a mild concussion. The greatest miracle though may have been the awarenesses I was given only seconds after my head hit: I was moving too fast - I didn’t listen to my intuition - I hadn’t followed my inner rhythm. Lesson noted and learned!
My hope in sharing my perspective here is that before your days of summer are spent you will intentionally take some time to get in touch with the rhythm that your true self desires. Fast and furious, or lazy and languid, and everything in between, of course. Once it’s clear to you what your whole self would enjoy, honor it, and spend your summer accordingly. If powerboating is your thing, go for it! But only if you want to—not because your partner or friends say it’s what you need. If sun bathing is what gratifies you, indulge yourself. (Just don’t forget the sunscreen!) But always, always listen to your intuition, the small voice inside that speaks up like mine did before my grand misadventure. Check in with it and listen to what it says.
When we honor our inner rhythm we move toward creating a greater sense of balance in our lives. Not to mention stress reduction and the benefit of enhanced health. When we choose to live fully in the moment, attending to what our inner rhythm calls us to do, we begin to live “in sync” with ourselves. We begin to feel better, more at ease, and our wellness quotient rises along with the temperature of those wonderful days of summer.
I'll be taking most of the summer "off" and "in," tending to myself and my creative self, so my blogging here will be minimal. I will still be meeting with people for Spiritual Direction/Mentoring, and there is one more summer program in Grand Rapids in July, "Nature as Teacher and Healer." I hope you will find and honor your summer rhythm too. Let's savor the summer shall we? It's the best way I know to stay Spiritually Healthy!
Blessings and all good things,
"... but if we never let ourselves do nothing at times, our inner resources will drain away,
and we shall move through our days with a pervading sense of unease.
We shall not, in short, be happy."
I marvel when the Universe puts just the right book in your hands at just the right time. I've savored this book and truly hate to return it to the library today. I will likely have to purchase my own copy because I know I will read it again and again.
It is a book of non-guilty pleasures and it's completely countercultural, though profoundly spiritual. Seven Sins for a Life Worth Living by Roger Housden has validated what I always knew to be true—but just couldn't seem to get my life choices wrapped around. It's ok to fall in love with the world and all that's in it AND lighten up on yourself. It's perfectly wonderful to commit these "sins" and, in fact, keep on doing so because they will ultimately deliver you to your truest self. Yes, really.
Here are the 7 Sins:
1. The Pleasure of All Five Senses
2. The Pleasure of Being Foolish
3. The Pleasure of Not Knowing
4. The Pleasure of Not Being Perfect
5. The Pleasure of Doing Nothing Useful
6. The Pleasure of Being Ordinary
7. The Pleasure of Coming Home
Which sin speaks to you? Which one does your heart and soul urge you to commit right now?
I'll admit that the very first one that grabbed me was #5. "The Pleasure of Doing Nothing Useful." What we might call Idling. Time wasting. "Moodling," as author Jennifer Louden calls it. I'm a Worker Bee from way back. Raised with a never-say-die work ethic. (Both sets of grandparents come from farming, need I say more?) I took my first job when I was 15-years-old and have been working hard at something ever since.
This Pleasure is a growing edge for me. For many years, I've been all about making my life matter, using my talents, making a difference in the world, doing what I am "called" to do. As sacred as this sounds, it's wearying to think that you MUST always be pointing yourself in a certain direction all the time. Being useful. Being creative. Being productive. Sigh ...
The teacher voice in me is relentless sometimes. The conditioning to turn information into something useful for the benefit of others runs deep. I go to the beach. I struggle with just sitting there. Surely I should take pictures to turn into blog posts or to put on Facebook! Surely, I should have brought my journal to write down brilliant insights that I can turn into the next book!
Pleasure #5 invites me to let all that chatter go. To give myself permission to receive, to love leisure, to enjoy mindless walks and traipsing around my town for no other purpose than to do it, to lounge on my deck and watch the sunlight move through the trees or listen to the waves at the shore. Does that sound like someone being lazy to you? It does to me except ...
... except that Roger Housden gets this. And invites us to stop all that chattering nonsense and look at this Pleasure with new eyes and an open heart. Let the old storyline go. Grab onto the joy that's latent within the Pleasure and give yourself over to it because it will transform you. Invite you deeper. Re-introduce you to your true self. That's what it's doing for me, anyway.
Roger's right. When I do nothing, I open up to the Universe in unexpected ways. Gifts are given. Aromas pour in to an empty vessel (me) and they ferment there like good wine. A clear agenda and mapless walking energize and rejuvenate me. At this stage of my life I am unlearning much of what I've been taught and realigning with ancient wisdom, like this thought of Lin Yutang (from Housden's book): "If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live."
And this is how Pleasure #5 works: (Housden again) "If we are not useful, after all, what else can we be but useless? Even taking such a simple break in routine as spending a morning with your feet up, gazing out of the window, can begin to dispel that misunderstanding. A fully lived and passionate life is not only, or not even mostly, about being useful or useless, it is about being. Being what? That we shall discover only when we lay down our arms and rest awhile from being everything we think we are." (my emphasis)
There you go. Well said.
Do you by chance hear freedom calling through any of the Pleasures? I'm eager and ready to commit more sins and partake of non-guilty pleasures. Care to join me?
How often do we resist the flow of our days? We're so certain our life should be going in a different direction than it is. Or positive that what we are going through should not be happening to us—to someone else maybe, but not us.
It seems that our modus operandi on most days is to notice what's going on and either rail against it or jump into "change it" mode. Resistance is our default setting. It's difficult to be at ease with what is.
Imagine what it would be like, instead, to flow with what's transpiring in our lives. Flow with what comes. Flow with what goes. Just like a river we can allow our very essence—peace—to call the shots and take us where we need to go.
A few years ago, as I sat beside the sweetest body of water, this short reflection came through. The river spoke ...
Observe the movements of a river.
Enter a few moments of quiet within yourself and imagine being like a river.
How does it feel to flow rather than bump along? How does it feel to trust and be carried?
Today, may you surrender any resistance that is yours and allow Source to be the one to move you along on your life's journey.
(Photo of the Rogue River in Michigan, from www.cannontwp.org)
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