School’s out (or nearly there), and summer is upon us. One phase ends and a new one begins. As the days grow longer and the sun lingers on the horizon, we can use this transition to set intentions and consider how to stay connected to mindfulness practice over the summer.
If you work on an academic calendar, chances are you may be feeling pretty wiped out. If the reserves are empty, the first order of business is to rest, relax, and recharge. After completing a large project or finishing an intense period of work I generally don’t want to do much of anything!
Leaving Space for Rest
It’s hard to practice mindfulness properly if we’re exhausted. While mindfulness practice can be nourishing in and of itself, if that’s not the case for you then you may be best served by letting go of any regular schedule of formal practice for a bit while you unwind and rejuvenate.
First things first: consider what brings you healthy ease and joy. Then, find ways to soak that in. Maybe it’s long walks or a good novel, time with friends, dancing, or getting out in nature where you can see the stars. Give yourself a few days, a week or more to let your mind and body come back into a state of natural balance.
As things start to even out, I would invite you to turn your attention inwards. Take some time to be with yourself in a simple and quite way. Without trying too hard to do much of anything, let your mind and body come to stillness. Allow thoughts, feelings, and emotions come to rest on their own. Time in nature, or looking out at an expansive view can help support this.
Reflect a bit on how quickly life passes. Look back five years, ten years, longer… where did it all go? After all the ups and downs, the changes and challenges, here we are.
Looking ahead, consider the years to come. Whatever time we are granted will pass all too quickly. Right now, in this moment, we have an opportunity to cultivate our best qualities: capacities for compassion, kindness, generosity, patience, wise awareness, to name a few.
So as you look out at the weeks and months to come, I invite you to consider how you’d like to use your time. What’s most important to you? And where or how does mindfulness fit in with that? The more clear, balanced, and alert your mind is, the more energy and vitality you have for the things that matter.
What will support you to stay connected to mindfulness this summer? For many of us, taking some time first thing in the morning to sit quietly and train the mind is an excellent way to remember. Whether its 5 or 45 minutes, those few moments of quiet can set the tone for our entire day, making it more likely for us to remember to be present.
The Creativity of Mindfulness
There are countless other ways to stay connected to and inspired by mindfulness. You might draw inspiration from a good book (I’ve been enjoying Altered Traits). Poke around online for a good TED talk (here’s a favorite by Rick Hanson). Attend a daylong, weekend, or weeklong silent retreat. Pick up the phone and call a friend who shares your interest, or look for a Mindful Schools meet-up or other gathering. Draw, paint, or journal about your inner life.
The beauty of mindfulness practice is that it can happen anywhere, any time. So as you step out in to summer, we invite you to balance your commitment to formal training with some fun and creativity. Let your practice come alive this summer. It will likely be more meaningful for you, and you’ll have some new ideas to share with your kids in the fall.