This weekend was the Summer Solstice. For those unfamiliar, the Summer Solstice is the point at which the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, the point of midsummer with the longest day and the shortest night of the year. It is often associated with celebrations of abundance and vitality in the west, and purity and feminine energy in the east. I celebrated by leading a group meditation class via Zoom (which doubled as a fundraiser for the Equal Justice Initiative) that focused on how each of our spirits is on our own journey. As the solstice bathes us in sunlight, each of our unique essences absorbs the power of the sun’s energy and transmutes it into our own unique gifts.
As I celebrated the vibrant and nurturing energy of the solstice and reflected on the gifts my spirit has to share with the world, one of the things that came up for me was my continued desire for connection—to nature, to each other, to ourselves—and the healing power of rest that makes such connection possible. During this unique and uncertain time, I am struck by the ways in which our human connections are changing: the need for physical distancing has forced us to reach out for each other in creative ways while the tide of uprising against institutional oppression has forged new alliances that may have seemed impossible at any other time in history. These are unprecedented times, indeed.
Looking to the weeks and months ahead, there is still so much uncertainty; I am still very concerned with transmission of covid-19 within the local community and wary of what feels like a rush to reopen local businesses. Though I miss seeing students and friends in person and am definitely feeling Zoom Fatigue, I am not yet ready to resume group classes or casual get-togethers (and a recent poll of my students indicated they are not quite ready either). Yet I am clear in my desire to connect more regularly with you—my community of fellow mindfulness practitioners—in meaningful ways, including another virtual guided meditation class (this time, in honor of Obon) on July 18 at 10am (click here to register).
Also at the forefront of my intentions is continuing my personal journey of unlearning and self-reflection in regards to social justice. In addition to reading White Fragility by Robin Diangelo and working my way through Me & White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, I’m also listening to the Seeing White series from the Scene On Radio Podcast—all of which I highly recommend. And I’m very much looking forward to a Skill in Action yoga workshop with Michelle Johnson in July! But I also know that this kind of unlearning of the white-centric ideas I absorbed growing up in a white-dominant society takes up a lot of my personal energy.
So as I am planning a variety of ways to continue both my personal and professional work, I am keenly aware of the need to balance my work with rest and healing. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention to the work of Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry, you’ll remember that “rest is a form of resistance because it disrupts and pushes back against capitalism and white supremacy.” So my most important solstice intention is the renewed intention to let myself restore and renew along the way. I hope you’ll join me, in both reconnection and rest.
As inspiration, I leave you with the words of Rachel Cargle from a recent Facebook post:
May I journal with you here?
I’m feeling really soft and squishy and raw lately. It’s a mix of a million things The moon phase, my menstrual cycle, the way my black body anticipates the stressors of being in the world amongst risks like police force and pandemics, the way my heart seems like it’s an empathetic magnet for every thing that might break it, the inevitable hard things in life, this work.
I’ve had to check myself more frequently on the self talk I whisper into my own ear.
“You’re not worthy of love”
“You’ve no shape or form without the comforts of what you’ve always known”
“You’ve no clue what you’re doing”
“You don’t deserve one bit of this”
My body has demanded more sleep, less socializing, more veggies, less social media scrolling. I’m obliging.
It’s been things like laying my head in my mother’s lap while she hums to me and pats my back or making huge salads with herbs that remind me of what being grounded means or allowing a new lover to hold my face as she kisses me softly or binge watching tv (something I haven’t given myself permission to do in years) that’s been keeping me afloat.
And even then….the waves still crash so damn often. But I’ve always been a strong swimmer.
I suppose I’m sharing this as a public acknowledgement that I must rest. That you, too, must rest. That letting our minds and bodies and hearts (especially our red, pulsing hearts) rest in the truth that we are human and that these soft and squishy and raw parts of us are worthy to be held smiled at and fed warm filling foods and told “You’re lovely”. And sometimes — in some chapters of our lives — we must do these things for ourselves.
Love,From Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, via Facebook, June 22, 2020
A soft, squishy, raw, 31 year old Rachel in the midst of a cool summer evening in her hometown.