Has this happened to you, yet? This week it suddenly hit me that Labor Day was only a few days away, and then it would be all over. Summer, that is. Everything in me resisted. Despite current events, I had still been able to enjoy the summer: letting the warmth of the sun melt my body's tension and soothe my often jazzed up energy, savoring the beauty and lushness of the gardens and cornfields around me, delighting in the comings and goings of the hummingbirds in the hollyhocks. But right in the middle of my blissful enjoyment, wham!
The thought that this would be over way too soon started blaring through loudspeakers in my head. I could feel my body immediately tense up, my feelings rapidly switching from calm and happy to disappointed and unhappy. Now of course, nothing had changed around me. The landscape was still as beautiful, the sun was still shining, the birds and bees were still busy doing what they do. But that one thought - that summer was already over - was ruining any chance of retrieving the pleasure I was feeling only a moment before.
Sadly, it’s true that, especially for those of us in the Northeast, summer weather and its open invitation to go out and enjoy the warm and sunny days or take a vacation will be coming to a close before long. And haven't our lives been forever influenced by school ending for summer vacation? We’ve been conditioned to associate summer months with freedom and adventure and the fall season with routine, restriction and conformity.
But happily, it doesn’t have to be that way. There's a secret you need to know if you want to prolong the summer mindset even if you can’t prolong the season.
The single most important thing you can do is understand how thoughts - like the ones I was having - can either enhance or ruin your capacity to live life fully. Have you noticed that thoughts come between us and our experience of the world around us? Our physical sensations get registered in the brain. Then they’re very quickly labelled by the mind: good/bad, right/wrong, I deserve this/don’t deserve this, and so on. Once we hear these judgments in our heads about what should or shouldn't be happening, we react as if they were the truth and start trying to do something about our external reality, even though nothing is wrong out there. It's the internal reality that we need to focus on.
If we can notice that thoughts come and go on their own steam, we don’t have to do anything to, with or about them. "Oh, right, those are just thoughts. I don't have to believe them." They’ll go on their way (we don’t need to know where) and we can get back to being present to the sights and sounds of what we have right now, directly in front of us. It’s the best kept secret in town. When we know that thoughts by themselves are powerless unless we claim them as ours, we can easily unhook from the habit of worrying about what’s going to happen and allow ourselves to just be with what is. That’s what I call freedom. And honestly, there's no better time to practice this than in these sweet remaining summer days.
Try treating your thoughts this way and see what happens. Then share your experience with me by connecting with me over Virtual Coffee .