Today, people from cultures and places around the world will celebrate the Summer Solstice. On the solstice, the sun is at peak intensity after months of growing stronger with each passing day— each one longer than the day before, eclipsing short, tepid nights. This is a time of power, of brazen intensity and full-glory strength.
Power. Try saying the word aloud, and seeing what it brings up in your body. Does the word make you feel uncomfortable – perhaps even inclined to click over to something else? Do you feel a lurch or a deadness in your stomach, your throat, or your heart?
Power is a word that many of us in “conscious communities” are resistant to— unless the very next part of the sentence either has to do with the third chakra or solar energy. We’re often more than willing to dive into the difficult work of healing, transformation, being vessels of light, and becoming clear. But “power” too easily brings up images of corporate CEOs that ravage the world with their greed, monster truck rallies, football teams, and other kinds of things that we define ourselves against, not with.
We turn away of power in favor of authenticity or our true nature. We focus on flexibility and creativity instead of strength. We cultivate our compassionate and passionate selves, but are afraid of being too determined, driven, or proud.
In our yoga practices, meditation retreats, ecstatic dance sessions, and listening to the teachings of wise teachers, we shy away from power because it’s often associated with the ego, selfishness, domination, and control— the kind of power I call power-over, and that too many have been the victims of, in many forms of abuse and harm.
Beyond our personal growth practices, there are other voices in this world that tell us not to be too much, too forceful, too miraculous. The entire beauty industry feeds on the shame we feel about our bodies. Rampant consumer culture is dependent on the constant feeling many of us carry of not being or having enough. New self-help gurus emerge every day promising enlightenment and self-fulfillment if we buy their new program and go on their Costa Rican retreat, implying that without them, somehow we’ll never find our way there.
Sometimes what happens is that the voices of our wise teachers and the fear-mongers become mixed up inside of our minds and hearts, forming an unholy marriage of the parts of us that are wise, visionary, egalitarian and idealistic with those that struggle with fear, shame, discouragement and a lack of self-worth, because both sides are telling us to be wary of our power.
But by shying away from our power, we lose our ability to cultivate our creative visions and express ourselves with unbridled passion and enthusiasm. We turn away from manifesting our dreams and acting with overwhelming courage. We tone down our brilliance and pull away from the parts of ourselves that are brash, daring, and utterly self-possessed.
We give up our power-from-within, and the power-with we experience when working in collaboration with one another and the whole big, beautiful world around us.
The Summer Solstice reminds us that there is a time for being full volume and totally self-expressed. This is the time of year that the cosmos gives us complete permission to play full out, and to remember that the root of the word power is podre, which means, “the ability to make something happen.”
It’s also the perfect time of the year to reclaim our power from the places that we’ve left it, or where it was taken from us during a traumatic situation, a time of intense transition, or through an on-going power leak in a long-term relationship or situation. When we reclaim our power, we are reclaiming our life force, our vital energy, our eros — which is our power to create, make, love, and celebrate.
You are always in relationship with your life force. Ideally, you want access to your FULL life force. Not just half it because some of your power is on obligation-loan to the needy, or stuck in a past life, or knotted up with the person who did you wrong, or tangled up in dreading the future. Painful events create fissures that your power gets trapped in. You want to empty those pockets and get your gold back.
The meditation below is one way to reclaim our power, but there are many others: hiking to the top of a mountain, sitting down to journal or paint every morning in the face of tyrannical to-do lists, planting gardens in vacant lots, dancing beneath the full moon in the desert.
Now, more than ever, this world needs those of us who are conscious, compassionate, clear, and focused on healing to live and create from a center of grounded, deep, exuberant power-from-within, and to stop shying away from our birthright as beings who can make things happen.
Summer Solstice Meditation: Reclaim Your Power
- Find a place to that you can sit quietly for 15-20 minutes. It’s ideal if it’s somewhere you can be comfortable beneath the glory of the sun at it’s highest peak at noon, or at sunset or sunrise, which are all powerful times to connect with the sun and it’s bright, warm energy.
- Take five minutes to release the goings-on of your day. You might want to sit and breathe quietly in silence with your eyes closed, or with your eyes open, let your thoughts drift away while you observe something beautiful in nature. You could also do a “tree grounding,” sending a thick energetic taproot into the ground beneath you and let “branches” of energy reach out from the top of your head into the sky.
- Now close your eyes and think back to a time that you shied away from your power in some way – maybe with your boss, with a partner, a family member, or where you let yourself be pulled away from something you desired to do because of an old fear or disempowering belief.
- Take a breath and look inside for the place in your body that the experience, fear, or belief seems to “live.” Don’t think too much (or at all) about this, but use your feeling sensors to navigate your inner terrain.
- Put your hand on this part of your body and breathe into it, breathing and touching this spot with love and compassion for at least 9 breaths to connect to it and notice the sensations without trying to change them in any way.
- If there is anything to release here – such as a fear, belief, or an energetic “thread” connecting you to another person – use your breath, movement, sound, or all three to release it. You might want to make a noise (and it might not be pretty) to move the thing you want to release, to shake or dance it out, or with focus and powerful intention, breathe it out of your body into the ground or into the sun.
- Now call your power back to this place, knowing that you are calling your power back not only from the specific experience or person that you were thinking of but from all the times in your life where something similar and resonant has occurred. Again, you can use sound to help you here – by saying or singing what you are calling back to you, a mudra or affirmation, or simply letting non-verbal sounds that come to you in the moment move the energy.
- You may have memories or new sensations pop up as you do this. Allow them to pass through you with your breath, or take a moment to appreciate these older experiences and the sensations moving through you—as hard as they might be, they were teachers for you, and often difficult solutions to the even more difficult problems you found yourself in.
- Finally, call on the energy of the solstice sun and the earth to fill you up with power, and guide you in using your reclaimed power with wisdom and for the good of all beings. You can also name other intentions you have for the second half of the year (from now until the winter solstice), and ask the sun to help illuminate, empower, and manifest these intentions.
- Close with gratitude for yourself, for the sun and earth, and any other allies you’ve called on to help you do this potent working.