The arrival of summer offers an opportunity to reflect on the energy, light and play the season brings, says Angela Buttimer, MS, NCC, RYT, LPC, a licensed psychotherapist at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont. Buttimer teaches a Cancer Wellness class on the topic called “Celebrating Summer Solstice.”
What does the summer solstice represent?
“The summer solstice represents the sacred masculine, or yang, energy,” says Buttimer. “Masculine energy represents the part of us that’s active, ambitious and productive. The sacred feminine, or yin, energy represents stillness, intuition and being.”
She notes that all genders have masculine and feminine energy and we need both yin and yang energy to thrive. Creativity, for example, is a blend of yin and yang energy. To be creative and produce something of quality—such as a garden, a meal or a project at work—requires you to be both reflective and active, she says.
Here are some ways to recognize and celebrate the summer season.
1. Celebrate a season of light, joy and play
Summer offers a chance to reflect on your internal light and what lights you up inside.
“Sometimes, people have lost their way, especially on the cancer journey,” says Buttimer. “To find their inner light again is so important. In the class, we talk about how to connect with joy and play. Sometimes those can be lost arts because we’re so busy ‘adulting.’ We need to find play and joy in addition to being active and productive.”
2. Practice yoga sun salutations
“In the yoga tradition, we do rituals with each season,” says Buttimer. “With summer, it’s a time to celebrate solar power. The power of the sun is believed to energize and uplift. It has more of a sacred masculine energy, while fall and winter hold more sacred feminine energy.”
She says practicing yoga sun salutations is a way to honor the summer solstice.
“Sun salutations are an energizing movement to achieve a sense of flow in the body,” says Buttimer.
3. Journal on reflective writing prompts
Journaling on the themes of light, joy and strength can also help you harness the energy of summer. Here are some reflective writing prompts to consider:
What brings you joy?
What lights you up?
How do you light up the world?
What are your gifts and strengths?
What activities give you energy and strength?
4. Spend time outdoors
Summer is a fantastic time to soak up fresh air and sunshine. Enjoy the great outdoors with activities like:
Forest bathing (going for slow, mindful walks in nature)
Having meals and gatherings outside
5. Cool your system
“In the summer months, we have a lot of solar energy around us,” says Buttimer. “People are motivated to be active, which is great, but on the flip side, you also want to cool your system down.”
She suggests practicing the following yoga breathing techniques:
Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth while making a whistling form with your mouth. Repeat for several breaths or as long as you need.
Practice alternate nostril breathing. Use your finger to close one nostril, breathe in and then close the other nostril and breath out. Alternate sides as you breathe in and out.
It can also be helpful to eat cooling foods like:
“Summer isn’t always pleasant for people who run hot or are going through hot flashes, chemotherapy or radiation,” says Buttimer. “Finding ways to cool down during the summer months is important to find balance.”
Learn more ways to reduce stress and improve your well-being.