- No school,
- Warm weather,
- Swimming, and
- As much time to do all the creative things I really like to do.
As an adult, this time of year means other things, but for some reason I have always held on to it being my favorite.
This year it was not my favorite summer. It was intolerably hot, it barely rained, and then there was The Move. And as we begin to really fall in love with our new mesa-top home, other things have shifted, too.
New Mexico now finds itself in Monsoon, so the rains have come (hallelujah!) and that means the temperatures have dropped. Our anxieties about our water catchment system have been put to rest, our yard is finally beginning to go from yellow to green, and days can now be spent doing things as opposed to a full-time effort to move as little as possible.
In addition to the rain and the cool, summer suddenly became enjoyable again, because I took time off from work to— dramatic pause— play.
Sometimes the hardest work is to get yourself to play, but when you do, everything becomes easy again.
I allowed myself to get a taste of that essence of summer— the part I loved so dearly as a child— and I managed to blast myself with it during these last two weeks of the season.
All throughout my childhood I spent most of my summer days either at the pool or the river. All. Day. Long. My best friend and I would get dropped off at my grandmother’s apartment complex at 9am, and we would alternate between swimming and sunning the whole day through. Or I’d go to my other best friend’s house on the river, and we’d jump off the dock into the water and do the same water-sun cycle that felt so incredibly good.
As summer began its decline, I, as my present day self, had a burning resolve to swim— an absolute dedication to the river.
My inner 12-year-old was delighted by this. She and I had the best time, swimming and sunning, swimming and sunning, swimming, and sunning. Only instead of baby oil for a tan (ack!) I was slathering up with coconut oil for its natural sunscreen effect.
The other difference being an adult made in my summer swimming routine, was that instead of having my best friend there by my side, I had another sort of “friend” with me nearly the entire time.
This friend was the voice inside my head. I call her my friend lovingly, because I know she means well and is trying to protect me; however, she isn’t very wise, and can be down right nasty at times. This voice was nagging at me every chance she got, telling me I should be working, reminding me I wasn’t a kid anymore, and lecturing me on how time is precious and I should be using it to be productive…
But The River was there. The River soothed me, and told me not to listen to that voice in my head. The River gave me permission to stay all day. The River told me to come back tomorrow, too.
My inner 12-year-old agreed.
Your inner child is infinitely more wise than your inner critic.
So I languished in the sun, read books to the music of water flowing over rocks, and refreshed my spirit in the eternal cool of The River, that mystical teacher and longtime friend.
What I learned, or perhaps remembered, is that nothing is more productive than relaxation and enjoyment.
“A relaxed mind is a creative mind.” —Anonymous (Yogi Tea tag quote)
I had been letting my mean voice boss me around for too long, and when I finally began to disregard its demands, I found that everything it was telling me to worry about was actually getting done in perfect timing, with total inspiration, and— joyfully.
As soon as I lightened up and stopped working so hard I began to really get inspired.
And that is the final part of what I used to love so much about summer as a kid— I got to do all the creative things I truly liked to do. I wasn’t in school, but that didn’t mean I didn’t learn, explore, and create.
I made books of drawings, I designed my dream house, I wrote short stories, I painted, I collaged, I sang, I danced. I was like a creative spring, spurting up from the earth and flowing throughout the land of Brea in summertime. (Cue the birds singing and the rainbows beaming.)
As I reflect back on the wisdom of my youth, it seems pertinent that the theme of the current time of year would be “maturity and levelheaded discernment.” This is how qigong master, Robert Peng describes it, in his explanation of Liqiu Jieqi, or Start of Autumn. According to the Chinese seasonal calendar, we here in the Northern hemisphere are now at the exact midpoint of the year.
Likening the year to one’s lifetime, we would have been infants at the Start of Spring, which means we are now at Midlife here at the Start of Autumn. Taking in all the knowledge gained from our experiences so far, we can reflect and apply, assimilating everything we’ve learned, making adjustments where necessary, and gaining the wisdom that comes with age.
The truly wise look to the very young for guidance.
Everyone has a perfect place of balance— a plumb line that draws straight through the body, the central axis, the midline.
Your challenge is to find this midline and to use it as a starting point for gaining access to the wisdom of your inner child, the younger versions of you who still exist within your heart.
Begin by standing in Wuji Stance,* following these points of direction to get there:
*If you have balance challenges, just keep a hand on a nearby wall or chair back. Alternatively, this meditation can be done sitting, with upright spine, rocking back and forth from the hips.
1. Feet are hip-distance to shoulder-distance apart, parallel, and relaxed against the floor
2. Knees are soft and slightly bent, as if you are about to sit down onto of a large energy ball directly beneath your bottom (this will straighten and lengthen your spine)
3. Hips are level and relaxed
4. Tailbone is drawn toward the earth
5. Crown of the head is lifted to the sky
6. Tip of the tongue rests against the roof of your mouth, just behind the teeth, which closes the energetic circuit
7. Arms are relaxed at your sides
8. Shoulders are dropped, letting all burdens gently fall off and away
Now begin to shift your weight forward and back, rocking gently and rhythmically. Rock back and forth, shifting the weight from the balls of the feet to the heels. Do this anywhere from 8 to 36 times.
Now gradually begin to decrease the range of movement, slowing the rocking momentum with each shift forward and back. Little by little, bring your rocking to a close, resting in the very middle point between forward and back.
This is your perfect place of balance.
From this point you are now aligned with your central axis. This is the outward version of what is taking place internally: you are now blended with the eternal part of you, the inner teacher, the spirit, your higher self, the inner being.
There are so many words to describe this part of you, so just go with what feels right to you.
Close your eyes, and intend to connect with your inner child.
See yourself as a child, at whatever age comes naturally in the space beyond your closed eyes.
Watch this version of you. Notice what you are wearing, what your face looks like, what you are doing. Are you sitting or standing? Are you in a room or outside?
Now ask your younger self for advice. Ask, “What can I do to live a more joyful life? How can I have more fun? What do I need to do to enjoy myself more?”
Your inner kid will know. This, we can trust. Your task is to hear, to really listen, and to take that advice.
Stay with your inner child self for as long as you want. Ask whatever you feel like, and be open to receiving wisdom form this younger part of you who knows a lot more than you think.
When you are ready, gently release your focus. Slowly begin to move your body, gradually increasing the movement until you feel fully present in the room.
By letting yourself relax and have fun, you powerfully set yourself up to dive into your work not from forced drudgery, but from truly inspired action.
Even though summer is technically behind us, I encourage you to give yourself a break, and go do something you would have loved to spend all day doing when you were twelve.