Summer in India is in the air. As the sun comes out and dances once more on nature, bringing us warmth, let us use this natural time of renewal to help put a twinkle of light back into our eyes, despite the oppressive heat.
Summer is considered a time of renewal both in nature and at home. It is a perfect time to clean out your home, purify the body and mind, and start new projects. It is also a great time to let go of the negative emotions of winter and allow refreshing and new ways of thinking and being able to arise. "Everything changes, nothing remains without change" said the Buddha. When we embrace the change of the seasons they can help us in transforming our life.
We're going to approach this idea from three different perspectives. Our mind, body and spirit. They are all, in fact, part of the whole, but we can address them separately for the sake of convenience. When we consider the body we must also encompass the environment, as it is a direct extension of the physical.
Let's start with our environment. Take some time to look around where you live now. Does it need an influx of new energy? May be. We're going to start with a "clean-up:" a very thorough cleaning of your home. Get rid of any unwanted clutter. Clean behind all those hidden spaces that don't usually get your attention. Go through your wardrobe; give any clothes you no longer like or wear for charity. File or throw out any paper or papers you have lying around. When we clear our surroundings it creates the room for new things to come into our life.
Essence of summer
How can you bring the essence of renewal into your space? A good way to do this would be to give your home some colour, brighten it up, may be with a new coat of paint, or some new curtains. Or, you could simply rearrange the furniture; may be, you could buy a plant or two, pick some flowers. I want you to somehow bring this feeling of newness and colour into your life. This doesn't mean we have to actually move house; we can just freshen up and rearrange the one we have. When we create a home that enables us to enjoy our surroundings it brings good and healthy energy to us.
Now, as our surroundings are feeling warm, let's take a look at our physical body. If we're going to refresh and revitalise our body we need to look at our diet. There are many cleanses out there and you could try one of them. A wonderful one is an ayurvedic cleanse supported by herbs. Speak to an expert as to what is good for you. This is known as panchakarma. In ayurveda, there are three distinct body types and what may be a healthy cleanse for a kapha type may not be necessarily good for a pitta or a vata. This is why it is important to find out which cleanse would best suit your body type.
Here are some simple guidelines that are universal you could try. Try them for a week and see how you feel. You are the only one who ultimately knows what is good for you. I have tried various cleanses. I once tried a raw food diet. Well, let's just suffice to say it did not suit my body type. I felt awful. The friend I did it with felt fantastic. We are all so different, therefore, it is important to be gentle with ourselves and not force ourselves to be too stringent with a cleanse. Just simple changes can be enough for some of us. Sometimes, when we begin a cleanse we may feel a little rough as the toxins clear out, but in a few days you should feel much more vital and energetic.
Start your day with a squeeze of lemon in a cup of warm water. Increase the amount of water you drink, cut out sugars and limit the amount of wheat and dairy you consume. Avoid all fried foods for the week. Drink no caffeine, alcohol or sodas. If you normally eat a lot of white rice, try limiting it for a week or at least switch over to brown rice. Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that you normally would consume.
Next, we need to address the subject of exercise. While doing a cleanse you don't want to take up any strenuous activities, but some movement is good as it helps clear the toxins out of your body. Gentle yoga and walking are fine. When your body is adjusting to a new diet don't over-tax it with too much exercise.
After you have done a week of the cleanse and you resume your normal diet there should be more energy available to you. You can now increase the amount of exercise that you do. Choose something that you enjoy if you find going to the gym boring. You could take up a new sport such as tennis, yoga, golf, climbing, or swimming. I personally find a good brisk walk very helpful and enlivening - awakening my energy.
We are coming out of winter so do not do anything too active. Let's acclimatise the body and mind. If you can walk, where there is nature around, you will absorb extra energy from nature. You can write a diary, or journal your thoughts on a day-to-day basis, and burn your entries. It cleanses your mind and body.
Finally, we come to the Spirit - a different expression of the Spirit of Summer. Thank goodness, for wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same! Therefore, all of us will have a different experience of what we need to cleanse our soul. However, the practice that we can all use is Universal: meditation.
If you embrace meditation fully it acts as the most powerful inner healer and restorer of individual power in your life.
Summer is a wonderful time to go on a retreat to renew your meditative practice. The Spirit of Summer can be also be described as Grace; it bring more Grace into your life by being thankful for what you have now. When we send blessings and offer gratitude for what we have in our lives, right now, Grace begins to shine on us and we will be able to live a full and abundant life.
Take the time when you go for a walk to admire the Spirit that is present in the beauty and wonder all around us. Remember: just as a bud opens slowly and a flower insidiously, try to be gentle with yourself as this is a season of growth and change.
Nurture yourself through it, and you will find yourself renewed and refreshed, and ready for the season.
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