Today marks the summer solstice and also the international day of yoga- quite an apt pairing of celebrations, in many ways.
The solstice marking the point where the northern hemisphere of the earth is most inclined towards the sun and when it actually comes to a standstill before beginning to reverse its direction. The northern hemisphere will see the longest day of the year while the southern hemisphere will see the shortest. The sun is at its highest point in its cycle and also begins its reverse journey – the start of summer but also the subtle and slow receding of the light.
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self”, Bhagavad Gita.
Similar to the yoga path – this journey of the sun can be seen as a reflection of the journey we embark on ourselves. Yoga carries you on a journey inside yourself, to look at who you are and to understand what you really are- and from within that we reach a point where through our deepest insight we can start to unwind, reverse and let go of all that we have come to accumulate throughout our lives or the beliefs we carry that may be stopping us from returning to who we really are. Just like the sun’s journey, year in year out, we are on a continuous
journey of working into and out of the layers of ourselves that are preventing us from returning to our true nature.
That moment when the sun comes to a standstill, it does not move and then starts to reverse direction. Similar to the moment between the inhalation and the exhalation withing meditation, that space between the two where all is at a standstill – where our mind and body are in complete stillness. This space is where we can find calm, serenity, where we can find the path to return to our true nature, return to that place where peacefulness and emptiness reside.
You can always come into this space, between everything there is this space where we can be free. Even within our asana practice we can move into and out of this place between the movement, between each breath – where we are not doing but we are just being.
The sun constantly moves through this cycle, moving up to its highest point, pausing and returning to repeatit all over again. We are also constantly moving through the layers of ourselves – constantly coming to new truths, new understandings, new insights – returning and relearning and taking the journey again and again.
“The path isn’t a straight one. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths”, Barry H. Gillespie.
So on this day we celebrate the summer solstice and the international day of yoga – two reminders of the journey of the sun, the light and the self. The journey that never ends but that always continues. While we experience the longest day of the year, the most hours of light which we experience is the opposite to those in the southern hemisphere – the yin, the yang, where there is brightness, there is darkness, what comes together, comes apart, where the summer begins, the summer also starts to slowly recede, where the breath begins, the breath ends.
However, in between all of this, behind it all there is stillness, peace, no darkness, no light – just that space where our true nature resides.