"Summertime, and the livin' is easy...Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high..."
~ Ella Fitgerald
How do you celebrate the summer solstice? What are your favorite ways to make the most of the longest days of the year? Has the meaning of summer changed for you at all over the years?
Whether you live up here in the Northern Hemisphere where I do or in the Southern Hemisphere where I’m heading next month, the solstices are always a subtle turning point on the year. It seems like they have a way of sneaking up on us, whether it’s winter or summer it’s always like “Wow! The days are getting shorter again!”
The solstices are like the pendulum of the planet swinging each way to define our travels through the cosmos. We stretch out into the long days and cozy up indoors during the short ones. The texture of our days and the sequence of our habits change as we flow from the warm glow of lazy summer evenings to the abrupt darkness that falls before dinnertime in the winter.
Of course, I’m speaking from the point of view of someone who lives far enough up or down in the latitudes to make a difference. To my Hawaiian friends or anyone else in the Equatorial Zone, the days stay steady with an equal amount of light and dark, with the seasons more defined by the arrival of the rains than the length of the days.
The ancients places great importance on these cosmic turning points of the year. From Stonehenge to the Great Pyramids and at sacred sites all around the globe, monuments were oriented so that the shaft of sunlight cast only on the Solstice would illuminate a special spot on the structure, thereby signaling the great moment for all.
My house happens to have such a feature, although purely as an accident of the construction. There is a north-facing window near my turntables that only receives direct sunlight during the summer months of the year. As the days get longer, each evening at sunset a ray of light moves across the room. Then, for about three glorious days at Solstice, the ray of light reaches my front door and if I have it standing open, the sun can shine all the way through my house.
In the long days of summer when I was a youngster growing up on a ranch in Colorado, I made sure to make the most of “the longest day of the year” by inviting a few friends up for a sleepover. It meant the very least amount of time we could devote to sleeping, and the absolute maximum time we could manage for hiking the creek, climbing the cliffs, chasing lizards, and catching frogs.
Nowadays it seems like summers are more scheduled and structured for younger folks, maybe I’m wrong but it feels like there are more day-camps and weekly programs to keep kids busy than there used to be. I remember the feeling of summer arriving as a long stretch of “nothing to do” where sleeping in and reading books in my treehouse were the norm. In my opinion, boredom is underrated. It’s only out of the blank space of boredom that inventiveness arises — there’s a special kind of creativity that emerges once someone has had enough rest and has time on their hands.
Take a look down your own memory lane and see if there’s any long-lost aspects of the lazy days of summer that are worth resurrecting in your current life. You might find yourself with a sudden craving for a long nap in a shady hammock, with a good novel by your side and the smell of freshly-mown grass in the summer air!
Make the most of these salad days of summer as you can, before you know it we’ll be packing back-to-school lunches and making plans for the holidays! Enjoy your dance through the seasons and stay present as the pendulum progresses though the year!
Much love till next week!
Dance First Member Spotlight :: Claire Alexander!!
This week’s Dance First Members Spotlight shines on Claire Alexander and her “Inbodied” Ecstatic Productions! Claire has been an outstanding contributor to the Bay Area conscious dance and movement world for many years. Based in the South Bay with a dedicated following to her regular classes there, she also make regular appearances leading the Sunday morning Open Floor Community Dances in Sausalito and the Saturday morning sessions in San Rafael.
Claire trained in the Open Floor Movement Practice with the founders and was trained by Gabrielle Roth in both the Waves and Heartbeat maps of the 5Rhythms practice. She also holds a certification in Somatic Experiencing, Touch Work For Trauma Therapists and Somatic Resilience and Regulation. In 2014 Claire joined Open Floor International as a working member and is on the faculty of the Open Floor School California.
She has an open, intuitive and playful teaching style that encourages students to deeply engage with the transformative nature of movement as mindfulness practice. She’s renowned for her ability to create a container that invites her students to tap into the instinctual wisdom of an integrated body, heart, and mind.
Folks in the South Bay have two opportunities each week to experience an Open Floor container under the loving guidance of Claire — Mondays and Thursday nights . She also hosts a “Women’s Refuge: Mindfulness in Motion” monthly workshop at the Peninsula Ballet Theatre.
About Open Floor, Claire says: “ For centuries people have used meditation to move beyond the mind’s stress producing thoughts into mindful awareness. There are many meditation techniques and on the Open Floor we have a simple form — we sit, we walk, and we dance in cycles. Open Floor is a healing movement meditation practice and lively dance inquiry. The emphasis in Open Floor is to awaken our sensate experience, emotional intelligence, relational skills, and our mindful, imaginative, and spiritual awareness.”
Learn more about Claire Alexander and Open Floor at herwww.inbodied.com website. And when you’re in the South Bay or Marin, be sure to drop into one of her Open Floor containers!