When you’ve lost people you love or someone you love is hurting, it doesn’t matter that the sun shines brightly and people are laughing and you’re amidst all the joy and warmth. You carry around with you a deep ache or longing wherever you go. But the longer days of summer, the warmth, the vivid color and the fact that we can run out of the house in flip flops makes life feel on point.

In summer I practice. I practice happiness and taking responsibility for my thoughts. I practice deepening my roots of self-awareness and self-compassion. I practice loving other people well and showing up when I don’t feel like it, taking risks, flexibility, doing hard things, loosening my grip. It’s a season of outward energy that I find both invigorating and challenging.

I am more comfortable this time of year, in reflection or contemplation. Interestingly, summer also invites me into rest. Into the juxtaposition of activity and rest. Into leisurely walks and reading by the park and taking naps. It reminds me that I’m allowed to rest and play, to be mindful and present. That I can let down my guard and belly laugh and have fun each step of the way.

My favorite part of summer are the birds that visit the patio and other areas all around me. They cause me to ponder, to laugh and invite me to taste simple moments of nothing. To feel pleasure. To live with intense gratitude – for the easier days of course but also for the hard stuff. For the many times I fell and got back up again. For the people I’ve had the privilege of loving and knowing until the end. The birds beckon me out into the world, to expose my pale self, to ground me in the pleasure of what is.

It was in summer years ago as my grandfather was passing that what I planted in my heart and my mind, though tiny were indeed significant. That the work of planting and harvesting our thoughts and energies were my first inkling that joy and pain can coexist. Winter and the cold often felt hard and with my seasonal affective disorder – often unbearable. After many years of not fully grasping the cycles of our days, of our life it was and is the years of presence and my attention to the seeds I had planted, that those tiny sprouts came forward and put out tendrils that snaked their way into my aching chest and helped me breathe again.

Mindful living reminds me of this and that each simple day is an extraordinary gift for both our efforts and our harvest.

Peace and Love, Jim

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