Invincible Summer

In the midst of winter,
I found there was,
within me, an invincible summer. 

Albert Camus

Today is the beginning of the summer solstice where the sun is the brightest providing its incredible warmth and sunlight stimulating our planet and our body’s resources. Marking a significant moment in the cycle of life. 

The summer solstice is when the sun is at its highest peak in the sky, and for those in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s also the longest day of the year. Like most, I never paid it much attention. Just a fancy way to mark the beginning of summer. But through the ages and to indigenous peoples, this is a spiritual time signifying change and new beginnings. To many, the 2022 summer solstice is about finding balance in our life and perhaps a time to be the best version of you. (I think every moment is about these matters😊)

In Latin the meaning of solstice is “sun standing still” referencing the fact that the sun is out for the longest amount of time of the year. Ancient Greek, and Roman cultures acknowledge the solstice for religious reasons, to celebrate the crop cycles and the coming harvest.

We need to standstill with the sun to feel its presence and to contemplate our cycle and what we are going to harvest.

Just to pause and contemplate the natural cycles and flows that are going on within and around us that give use life without doing anything. 

We take it for granted. The Earth is spinning on its axis at 1040 miles an hour while traveling 65,000 miles an hour orbiting around the sun.

The life giving 22,000 breaths that enter our lungs and exit our nostrils every day. Our heart beating 100,000 times every 24 hours pushing blood and oxygen through 60,000 miles of vessels. (I know I am nerding out, but it is amazing😊). 

All of that happening relatively unbeknownst to us. That extraordinary rhythm, of life inside and out. The inexorable, continuous cycle of sunshine, the tides, and the seasons. These natural processes are aligned with our bodies and all other living things.

We constantly fight the natural rhythms. We ignore or even reject these cycles and flows within us.  Our uniqueness, our amazing superpowers can get lost. We become out of sync with ourselves. The patterns of behaviors we’ve chosen because of the expectations of others, trying to be somebody we are not.

This soulstice is a time to reconnect to the harmony of our rhythms. 

Our internal natural cycle is called our circadian rhythms. Your circadian (coming from the Latin words circa diem—“in approximately a day”) rhythm is your personal biological clock that regulates your energy when you are most awake and most tired.  Are you a “night person” or a “morning person”? That’s your circadian rhythms. Your body’s cycle of time calibrated by your DNA and the appearance and disappearance of natural light—the sun. 

The functions of your circadian rhythm are based in the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, connected to our eyes through the optic nerves that sense shifts in light. The light triggers many body functions within the cycle of a day including: body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and the release of melatonin which helps us sleep.
Factors like the light, temperature and when you eat affect your circadian rhythms as well. These are known as zeitgebers, external cues that impact your bio clock.

“So the sun is a zeitgeber,” says Dr. Roth. Zeitgeber—-a rhythmically occurring natural phenomenon which acts as a cue in the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythms. “Our school schedule, our work schedule, when we exercise, those are all zeitgebers. We can do things to change our circadian rhythm by what we expose ourselves to.”

We can change, re-align our Zeitgebers and thereby our circadian rhythms. The blue light of your devices changes your sleep patterns and your energy. So just like caffeine and food, you can’t have large doses before you sleep. And that cycle is synced to the sun, to the seasons, to the rhythms of the universe. We fight that flow. We fight the natural process that is happening within us. We ignore the sun, the seasons to make our own cycle. We don’t feel our heart beating or value our breath. 

A pile of science research teaches us that following our rhythms and the path of the sun in our lifestyles brings greater health and wellbeing.  25 years ago, I had to recalibrate my routine from evenings to mornings to be a better parent. I learned to go to sleep when I was tired and wake up when I awoke. I dispensed with the alarm clock more than a decade ago. My doctor told to be careful not to eat the fruits that are a part of the local regular seasons for my body may not know how to digest them. I had never heard that before. So still working at understanding my cycles and to sync up with the world as it exists and arrives to greet me. 

Our disconnect from natural light, from nature, has unwittingly altered our rhythms. We can be in a continuous jetlag disconnected from our home time zone. 

Yet the sun rises to its highest point today to do what it’s always done, what we expected it to do. Without fanfare or gratitude. I continue to realize the separation of myself from the world that is happening right now, from the way my body is reacting, my own energy and the energy around me. 

One of the things that has gotten me connected to the flow, the flow of what’s important to me, is my senses. The senses of feeling, smelling, tasting, and seeing that have really deepened my connection to the present. What are the summer senses? I have always loved the summer. When things are brighter, warmer, lighter, and hopeful. There’s a spirit of joy and a time for the pursuit of pleasure and solace. 

In a world that seems to be unpredictable and deteriorating, the sun’s rays, the beats of our hearts, and the breaths we take remind us of the constants. The foundation of life just reaches its peak on schedule and stands still for us to notice. To notice where we stand. To embrace its warmth. To see the light. 

Summer Solstice has been celebrated since the beginning of time when people saw the burning star in the sky. Today is another day to celebrate life. To literally see the light and go with the flow.  And another beginning to achieve more balance, more harmony, do less harm, do more good, more love, and to be who we are. 
Happy Summer!

Circadian Rhythm. There is a cycle your body wants to optimize its functions. What is yours?

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