6 Ways to Invite the Shift of Summer Solstice Into Your Life

Simple Ways to Use the Earth’s Energy to Find Clarity

The summer solstice is here and marks our halfway point through the year. Here in the Western Hemisphere, we will welcome the longest day of the year. The point when the sun will rise to its highest peak in the sky. It may not feel like it here in Seattle, but Summer Solstice is the closest to the sun we will be all year.

Summer is finally here and a lot more is happening than just a seasonal shift. It also represents a time for change and new beginnings. Below are 6 ways you can honor this shift within you.

Celebration of Light!

During the summer solstice, we honor the illumination of light the sun offers the earth. If you think about it, that is what summer is about; Getting out and enjoying the beautiful weather brought to you by the sun. It is also a reminder of the light within us and all the potential we have to ignite that inner flame. Now is the perfect time to awaken new forms of enlightenment from within. 

  • Ask yourself: What am I ready to overcome? And how do I guide this darkness into the light?

Reflections

A change in season is all about nature. And nature is a reminder about our own journey through time. It also marks an occasion for inner reflection. Summer is a time to celebrate all of nature’s beauty. The fresh air, the long days, getting outside, family picnics, bird watching, whatever you enjoy, the nice summer weather offers us an opportunity to get outside and explore this great earth. Time in nature opens us up to seeing the world with new eyes. Celebrate your own cycles of growth and change.

  • Ask yourself: What season of life am I in? Can you see yourself as part of a grander cycle?

Review

Spring is about renewal. Summer is a time to take a break to notice all the work you’ve done. We are halfway through the year so it’s a good time to reflect on what seeds you planted over the spring and plan forward for what’s to come. As the season changes it’s a great time to review how the year is playing out. The energetic changes that come with a fiery intention remind us to fuel our own fire. 

  • Ask yourself: Am I on track for where I want to be this year? What can I start doing today that will help me reach my long-term goals?

Find Your Spiritual High

Every day since mid-December has been bringing more and more light into your day. Now, at the height of light, we turn towards the days steadily getting shorter once again. Summer Solstice is a spiritual high that is met before beginning the long march back to the darker days of winter. Now is the time to celebrate the sun. Take a break from planting to watch things grow and use this slow time to bathe in the abundance all booming life everywhere. Lazy summer days are great for getting in touch with your inner nature and taking inventory.

  • Ask yourself: Am I living my truth? And what changes can I begin to start living more true to my nature?

Goodby Negativity

It’s hard to feel down when the sun is shining but let’s face it, the past few years have been bonkers! We are all struggling with something. If you have fallen into a negativity loop that you are ready to break, summer solstice is the time. There are many activities and modern rituals that revolve around fire and the summer solstice represents fire in the sky. Use this time to reboot your thoughts by burning out your negative thoughts. 

Seriously. 

Write them out and burn them.

  • Ask yourself: What negative loops have I been practicing daily that I am ready to let go of?

Set an Intention

As you research the Summer Solstice you will find many festivals that symbolize the sun’s energy in all its radiance and power. Fire is used as a symbol for change, transformation, purification, willpower, courage, and strength. You can set an intention now that sparks action into your life and that is ignited by passion. Taking time to sit and breathe in the mid-day sun is a nurturing way to look within and meditate on where your energy is going. 

  • Ask yourself: What can I do to resharpen my focus? Where should I be putting my attention? 

Discover your inner strength this summer

If you move through each of these intentions and use the energy shift of the summer solstice as a catalyst for motivation, you may find the earth’s energy more open to receive your intentions. The sun is a powerful symbol and by using this season change as a guide you can do some self-inquiry that opens up new pathways for you this summer that can guide you to find more meaning in your life. 

In A World of More is Better, Choose Less and Find the Clarity You Seek 

Finding Clarity By Clearing Out the Junk!

Our breath is such a vital part of our health and yet we rarely stop to notice or observe how it’s affecting our lives. Oxygen is essential and how you breathe is directly linked to how you feel. If you are looking to bring more clarity into your life then it’s time to clear out the junk both in your environment and in your head.

Today we are surrounded by devices designed to hack into the way we think. Data collecting is so effective that computers know what you want before you do. Information is more accessible than ever before and we have endless knowledge today at a click of a button. A world where information is power has passed. Today the internet has us drowning in too much information and with so much knowledge at our fingertips, it can be hard to know what is true and where we should direct our focus. We have become a society of wondering generalities, making us the most depressed people in history. 

Everyone is vying for your attention, and yet we cannot seem to focus on anything for too long. Remember going to see a double-feature in the movie theaters? Who has time and attention for that these days?

If you want to separate yourself from the crowd, then get clear about what you want and where you’re going. Clarity is power. The more clearly you can focus your attention on where you want to go the more success you will draw into your life. 

It’s time to filter out the junk!

We humans like things. We save up and work hard to acquire things. We fill our lives with things. We fill everything!

  • Our homes
  • Our cars
  • Our offices
  • Our phones
  • Our minds
  • Our bodies

We have so much stuff that we have created a multi-Billion dollar industry just to store our things. We seem to think that all these things will fulfill us. Parting ways with something locked away in a storage unit seems like more work than paying for the storage unit to hold it.

In reality, all these things are doing the opposite. They are weighing us down and causing stress and overwhelm. 

It appears Tyler Durden of Fight Club was right when he said, “The things you own end up owning you.”

All of these things we are lugging around with us have a mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual effect on our livelihood. 

  • Digital junk is scattering your brain in the form of thousands of unread emails, and too many apps on our phones.
  • Clutter around our home is piling up and being stuffed into the closet or room that you never seem to have the energy to go through.

All of these things are keeping you in a state of overwhelm and it’s preventing you from moving forward in your life. It’s time to start downsizing. The more you have to manage around you the more clutter forms in your thoughts. 

The more you let these piles and papers, and old tucked-away treasures eat up space in your life the less space you have in your mind to find the clarity you need to be productive and peaceful. 

Breathing out the Junk

Your nervous system is constantly sending messages from the brain to the body about what’s happening in your world. When you are caught up in a stressful moment your breathing changes. It becomes quick and shallow and your heart rate steadily increases. This causes you to tense up and affects your breathing pattern more. Now if you are constantly living in stress this short, shallow, tension becomes the norm and leaves you more susceptible to disease. 

One factor adding to your stressful life is that closet or room or drawer that we all have that we continually stuff things into that “one day’ we’re going to go through. It’s the emails you saved to read, and all the other lists of to-do’s that you are constantly putting off. It’s building up in your home and in your mind all the while affecting your health. 

By simply learning to breathe properly you can start to release 70% of the toxins currently running through your body. This will elevate your mood and invites in more focus and clarity.

Breathwork has become a mindfulness practice that is used worldwide. Intentional breathing helps clear out the mind-clutter and creates space for better decision-making. Numerous studies have found that conscious, slow breathing has a direct effect on the chemical levels in the brain. It has been shown to…

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Decrease pain levels
  • Promote better sleep
  • Increase focus
  • Strengthen the immune system

There are a ton of practices out there that are used for a variety of purposes that range from better sleep to athletic performance, and even to induce a psychedelic experience. 

The act of controlling your breath helps center your mind. The calmer you feel in the mind the more receptive you are to notice the subtle body. As you relax you begin to make space for clarity. 

Linking the Internal and External World

One of the things about the breath I absolutely love is this give-and-take relationship it provides to your outer and inner world. Every inhale is accompanied by an exhale. You cannot give without also receiving. Your breath is constantly showing you messages about what’s happening inside and what’s happening outside. 

The less you have cluttering your mind and environment the more you can use your breath to focus on getting clear about your life. 

The truth is you don’t need more things. You need less. You need to create space for clarity to come to you. This is an inside job. Conscious breathwork will shine you up from the inside, and clearing your things away will shine your environment on the outside. 

You may not think that all the things are adding to your stress, but it is the micro stressors in life that add up to big issues down the road. We all know the importance of taking care of the big issues but it’s the subtle things that add stagnation to our bodies and mind. Subtle things like clutter. 

We all know that a clean environment helps soothe our minds and helps with production levels. So give it a go, and take it in baby steps. If thinking about cleaning up a whole room seems too overwhelming then start by clearing off a counter, or a drawer. Tiny steps that lead to big rewards. Accompany this by consciously breathing and directing your mind and breath into a space of more clarity. 

4-7-8

One of the more popular breathing techniques popularized by Dr. Weil is 4-7-8 breathing. It’s easy to see why. This is a great stress reliever that focuses the mind and promotes high levels of concentration and relaxation. I suggest practicing this method once a day just after tackling your baby step clearing of clutter. This method will calm you and give you a greater sense of clarity. 

One of the best things about 4-7-8 breathing is that you can do it sitting, or laying down. It’s a great way to put yourself to sleep and reset your nervous system. So how is it done?

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet firmly planted on the ground and your back free from support OR sit in a meditation seat on the floor OR lay flat on your back in bed.
  2. Exhale completely 
  3. Through the nose inhale deeply into your belly for a count of four
  4. Hold your breath at the top for a count of seven
  5. Exhale through the mouth completely with a big whooshing sound as you count to eight
  6. Pause for a moment, empty of breath, and repeat for 10 rounds

That’s it. It just takes a few minutes for you to relax your mind and think more clearly. 

In a world of more is better, choose less and find the clarity you seek. 

A Lesson in Nature Photography with Matt Brashears

Learn Tips, Tricks, and insights from a Pro

Ever wonder what it takes to snap amazing photos in nature? Well, here’s your chance to learn from a pro using the tools you already have; your smartphone!

We all know that feeling of pure bliss and enlightenment brought to us by the intoxicating bounty of nature. She’s an elusive muse whose beauty is impossible to fully capture. Mother nature has a way of hiding her true essence from a camera lens. Even the most phenomenal moments captured on film are dull in comparison to the actual wonder of it all. Every once in a while you might get lucky with a picture you snapped on a mountain lookout or when the sun is reflecting off the water in the perfect way, but without an understanding of how to take good pictures, you will always be chasing that perfect picture. 

Matt Brashears is here to help. He loves nature and photography. He has spent years getting to know his camera and his iPhone as a tool to capture nature in its truest form, and this Sunday, June 12th, he’s going to share his tips with you!

Here in Washington State, we are surrounded by the world of nature. We are lucky to be home to 3 national parks, 124 state parks, and an endless amount of city parks and wildlife areas that include 19 marine life parks and 11 historical parks. For those of us who love the great outdoors, it doesn’t get much better. 

Explore with your IPhone

With our phones handy at any given moment you can snap a quick picture anywhere. As our phones advance, great photography isn’t just for the pros anymore. Matt is going to arm you with a few simple tips and techniques so you can easily snap beautiful photographs of wildlife and landscapes.

Cougar Mountain will be our setting for this photography lesson. A place close to Matt’s heart. He found solace in this regional park during COVID. Turning an incredibly hard time into one of the happiest years of his life. He vowed to hike as much as possible while figuring out the new norm that would last 18 months. He ended up hiking 1,500 miles, all on the trails of Cougar Mountain. He knows every inch of it and has seen it in every season. 

Not only did he use this time to keep a healthy mind and body, but he also witnessed and came to know the local wildlife. Including bears (and cubs). He even recalls a meeting with the same snail twice! He has photos of the shell markings in 2 photos of the snail taken a year apart. He came to know the owls and they allowed him close access to their personal space. He jokes about becoming so in tune with this mountain that he actually smelled a deer before seeing her. 

Matt says… 

“To me, nature photography is a celebration of nature, an attempt to capture and preserve a sliver of the joy it brings.”

He reflects how the happiest periods in his life correspond to the times he’s lived in daily contact with nature. Memories of nature flow all the way back to his childhood. 

What to expect

This 4-mile hike with Matt will be easily accessible and fairly easy to moderate. As with all Breathe in Nature events, we will begin with some breathing. Guiding your senses into the surrounding trees. We’ve located the perfect grove of cedars to sit beneath just off the trail’s edge so we won’t be disturbed. For about 15-20 minutes you will do guided breathwork that allows you to close out the world of responsibility and expectation and open up to the beauty of the moment.

Returning to the trail, all you will need is your smartphone (or an actual camera if you choose). Matt will talk about personal perspective and framing. Being clear on these two things will give you the most control over the quality of your photos. He will give a lesson on both. 

You will be challenged to identify your vantage point. 

  • Will you lie down? 
  • shooting straight up? 
  • straight down? 

You will be asked about framing 

  • What do you wish to include in the shot?
  • What are you leaving out?
  • What is your focus?
  • What is the best placement of the main focus?

Matt has a great one-pager of Photo Challenges that he uses when teaching photography at the Renton Community Center. It’s like a scavenger hunt for photos designed to help you think about options and make the right choice for your desired outcome.

Breathe, Photo, and Hike

During our time together you will awaken your senses to the natural world around you, and capture amazing photos while enjoying this hidden gem located in the Newcastle area. 

You can check out this hike and the remaining hikes at Breathe in Nature.