Several years ago, I lived in Walnut Creek, a town inland of Oakland in Northern California, set back away from the coast in a valley. While the cities on the shores of the San Francisco Bay generally enjoyed mild temperatures from the fog and cooling effects of the ocean, we baked out in the hot, dry valley at the base of Mount Diablo. At that time I resided on the second floor of an almost 100 year old home with no air conditioning; days inside were almost worse than outside, and nights weren’t much better.
Nevertheless, I had a small landing at the top of the stairs leading to my front door that faced to the west, and one of my favorite things was to sit in an old beach chair facing the hills and watch the sun set, cool juice in hand. As the sky darkened the stars slowly winked into existence from the eastern sky to the west, and the crickets, one by one, began their symphony to pronounce the next day’s temperatures. Lots of sweet memories from those years.
Summer is like that. Don’t we all have fond memories of our childhood or some other magical moment from summertime? The sweet taste of watermelon gushing from your mouth as you bite into a big slice at a family picnic. Camping in the mountains and sitting around a firepit while toasting marshmallows. Lying down in sleeping bags in the middle of the night out on a tennis court with a few buddies to watch the annual meteor showers send stars streaking through the otherwise still, dark night. Playing in the front yard with a stick from the olive tree and following an ant trail all the way to the source where they emerged from their nest. I was content to do so little, and found it so enriching and enjoyable.
While the hot sun can turn up our inner heat, we really need to take the time to enjoy the sweetness in every moment. The more we run around during the year’s hottest season impatiently trying to get stuff done, compete, “get ahead”, or struggle with things that just aren’t going smoothly, the more the inner heat builds up in anger, tension, and irritability. These are characteristics of Pitta, the Ayurvedic body-mind type (dosha) that tends to get overheated, when it’s out of balance. During summer’s height, that’s easy to do. So coming back to the sweet simplicity of the moment helps to slow and cool us down.
While summer is hot, it also has a way of bringing us into the moment and finding the magic there. Especially on those exquisite evenings when the temperature outside is still warm enough to wear a tank top but the evening breeze has picked up to soothe us. We can look up at the stars, or down at the mild beads of sweat shining in the moonlight on our partner’s neck. We can rise early with the sun while the coolness of the night remains to meet the clear light of a new day, watching the squirrels scurry about to prepare for autumn. When we feel connected to the natural world around us, there is a sweet contentment that is cooling, calming, and soothing to the soul.
Sweetness and contentment are two qualities that are known to calm Pitta dosha. From the taste of a juicy nectarine to the watery deliciousness of a melon, sweet manifests in the many fruits of the season, but it’s also an internal quality we can experience in our yoga practice and our lives. When we feel a deep release in a muscle, or we allow ourselves to just “be” in a pose or with our breath, it can be a sweet moment. Those sweet moments can lead to contentment, a inner experience of being at peace with exactly how this moment is. Every experience can be a meditation on what is unique, precious, and leads to this inner peace.
Take time during this last half of summer to enjoy these sweet moments. Look for them throughout your day and evening, and seek an inner sense of contentment. These precious summer months won’t last – the cold winds, shorter days, and dry leaves of Fall are just around the corner.
Copyright © 2005 by Constance L. Habash