Mindful through the seasons: 5 rituals for summer

Isn’t summer the most amazing time of the year? The seeds that were planted in springtime are now ripe and flourishing, and every ray of glorious sunshine makes you feel alive and overflowing with positive energy. Mother Nature is at the height of her power and expresses her abundance in all colors of the rainbow.

It’s never easier to be fully aware of the energies all around you than in summer. The perfect reason to try out my favorite rituals for a mindful summer time!

1. Float

SUP SavasanaWater is the element that people are most drawn to in summer time. The sweltering heat of peak summer days makes us acknowledge how essential water is for our health and wellbeing. Water is also one of the most powerful elements for healing. This not only includes drinking enough fluid to stay well hydrated, but also spending time by, on, and in the water to harness its unique calming and balancing energies.

Stand-up paddling (SUP) has become a worldwide trend in the last couple of years. I’ve been paddling the lakes and rivers in and around Salzburg on my beloved SUP board (which I affectionately call Tiki) for the fifth season now, and I couldn’t think of a more fun and (literally) balancing activity to unwind after a stressful day. While I was about the only paddler on the water for the first years I now share the water with plenty of other people on SUP boards. And I totally understand it: Paddleboarding is a wonderful way to connect with the water element, it calms and clears your mind and gives you the possibility to get away from the hustle and bustle of lakeside swimming pools and crowded beaches. And what’s even better is that my SUP board can easily be used as a floating yoga mat! It’s so much fun to take my practice on to the waves and try out all my favorite flows on the board. Try it for yourself! You will be amazed how easy some asanas, especially inversions, will feel when you practice them on a fluid surface and the worst thing that can happen is that you make a splash exit if you fall. 🙂 And I promise you, you will never enjoy a better Savasana than one floating on the water!
But my absolutely favorite SUP mindfulness practice is paddling in silence. Gliding through the water with almost no sound of the paddle cutting the water is just heavenly. And if you want to sink even deeper into this meditative state, close your eyes for a couple of paddle strokes and enjoy the feeling of moving with the waves and experiencing blissful fluidity inside and out.

2. Tend a fire

Campfire magicWarm summer nights are best spent by a campfire, roasting marshmallows and bread-on-a-stick, telling stories and laughing the night away.
The fire element is at the core of our existence. The process of igniting and tending a fire is believed to have been the turning point that sparked human evolution. What is nowadays accomplished with a simple touch of an electric switch used to be a sacred act for thousands of years. The practice of fire-gazing is one of the oldest known rituals of humankind. It puts the mind into a blissful meditative state of heightened awareness and calm attentiveness and increases the capacity of visualization. Scientific research even suggests that fire-gazing is part of what made humans who they are today because it stimulated brain development and led to the evolvement of cognitive functions.

By tending your own fire you can journey back to ancient times and immerse yourself in the magic of a fire ceremony. Enjoy the all aspects of the process: collecting the wood, stacking it to a pile, igniting it and watching the heat consume the wood and produce spiraling fumes as the flames dance and flicker. It’s the perfect way to honor the life-giving energy of the fire element.

3. Go skinny-dipping

Skinny dippingSwimming in crystal-clear waters is therapeutic by itself. But it’s even more stimulating when you take a plunge as the sun sets after a hot summer day and paints the surface in the same vibrant shades of red, orange and pink as the sky. When the hectic bustle at the beaches and lakesides ebbs away and the shores empty again, it’s the perfect time to treat yourself to some water therapy!

With nobody else around you might even feel adventurous enough for some skinny-dipping! Bathing naked is the ultimate way to get out of your comfort zone, and it’s an experience that every person should have at least once in their life, I think! Immersing your bare skin in water is extremely liberating and invigorating. Direct skin-to-water contact gives you sort of a primal feeling of freedom and boundlessness. And it takes you back to those happy-go-lucky childhood days where being naked was the most natural thing in the world. So go channel your inner mermaid and take the plunge!

4. Harvest

Crops fields in summerWe are used to being able to buy everything we need in stores. With the options being more than abundant, most of us are no longer dependent on a bountiful crop to feed and nourish us. Yet the importance of a successful harvest is still ingrained in cultures worldwide, and lots of harvest celebrations are happening around the peak of summertime, symbolizing the gratitude people have for the fruits Mother Nature has given them. It is a time of abundance, growth and plenitude.

Harvest time is also a wonderful checkpoint to assess your own growth and progress throughout the year so far and evaluate whether the seeds of intention you planted have grown and flourished. As they saying goes: you reap what you sowed. Take time to become aware of how far you’ve come with your goals and appreciate the organic processes that have brought you to where you are now.

It is also the time to reflect on the things you are thankful for. What kind of blessings and gifts came into your life that deserve gratitude and appreciation? What is it that you harvest on a spiritual and emotional level? You can express your gratitude by creating a hand-crafted harvest symbol such as a crop wreath, a corn dolly or a cornucopia full of field produce. Another wonderful gratitude ritual is to prepare a meal from fresh produce right out of nature. Pick ripe apples and pears, peaches and figs from a tree, collect corncobs from a field or look for sweet berries in the forest. Or follow the old tradition of baking a loaf of bread from fresh crops, as it used to be done on the old Pagan harvest festival of Lammas / Lughnasadh. Whatever you choose, appreciate and give gratitude for Mother Nature’s gifts has brought to life, and for the abundance she provides us with.

5. Make a wish on a star

There’s hardly anything more magical than spending a summer night under the majestic starry sky. Camping outside has been proven to have several benefits for body, mind and soul, such as reducing stress, improving your immunity and bringing inner peace.

In mid-August, a stellar spectacle makes this experience even more rewarding and special. The Perseid meteor cloud passes the Earth, showering its atmosphere with countless sparkling shooting stars. They are visible all across the sky, especially in the Northern Hemisphere in the constellation of Perseus, which is also where they got their name from. The peak nights are from August 11th to 13th, and if they coincide with a favorable moon phase (ideally New Moon or early crescent moon), the number of visible shooting stars can rise to 60-80 per hour.
Stargazers should find a place with as little light pollution as possible for best visibility. Set up your tent or hammock in a spot with undisturbed sky view. If you can’t go camping, you can also simply cuddle up comfortably on your porch or balcony under your favorite blanket. Put the cell phone aside and just lose yourself in watching the sky. And don’t forget to have your mental wish list ready – legend has it that any wish made on shooting star will come true…

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