Thursday, June 21, 2012

The dark and the light

For the last several years, I have celebrated the summer solstice by doing 108 sun salutations.  This year, my Wednesday night yoga class fell on the solstice, but for whatever reason, I did not plan in advance to change my class into the annual ritual.  When it dawned on me yesterday, that it was the summer solstice, I figured I could just base my class around sun salutations and find another way to acknowledge and honor another season of life.
As I sat down to prepare for class, I contemplated the significance of the occasion.  It happens every year.  I wait all spring for summer to come, for longer days, a more carefree season, more time with my kids, less of a schedule and what feels to me like more freedom.  There is something about these long days of summer that give me the feeling we have all the time in the world, time for all of it.
In actuality, the summer solstice is the longest day of the year.  As we usher in this season of warmth and light, the darkness is just beginning to set in. The summer solstice marks the days getting shorter.  The word solstice comes from the 2 Latin words, sol and stice.  Sol obviously means sun and the stice means in essence to stand still.  The solstice is the day when the sun stands still, if only momentarily.  We are reminded of the impermanence of all things.  Even the seasons, the long days, the light doesn't stay for long.  Eventually the darkness creeps back in.    As I pondered all this, I began to think about life and the parallels between the light and the dark.  Most of us want to live in the light, the place where we find clarity, where we feel brilliant, enlightened.  Inevitably the light creates a shadow, the darkness.  It follows us wherever we go.  The only time we can't see our shadow is when we are in the dark, the place most of us don't want to reside.
I guess what I am getting at is I see this ritual of honoring the sun, as a way to honor our own light our own brilliance, the sun of our own spirit that we can shine upon the world around us.  I found myself very emotional as I moved through my class last night.  One woman in the front row was full of tears and another came to me at the end of class and thanked me, "that was something special" she said.  I'm not sure what it was that spoke to me last night...the songs in my playlist all with a theme of the sun or light, or just the combination of bright souls in the room, our collective breath and hearts beating.  I left feeling very full, thankful for the times when the light illuminates the shadow and we feel confident, certain of our place in the world and our ability to bring light to the lives of others.  Happy Summer Solstice...I hope you find your light shining bright.

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