Sun Stands Still
When my daughters were young, I didn’t have a lot of money, but I wanted to make sure they knew money wasn’t responsible for enjoying life. There was amazing stuff going on around us for free all the time! And one of those things was as simple as watching the sky — specifically the Sun, the Moon, the visible planets, and the stars.
When the Sun rose, we would note the time and position on the horizon in relation to the center lock on the window facing East. When the Sun set, we would also note the time and position in relation to the center lock on the window facing West. And over time the marks created an angled ray of wiggly pencil scratches in the wood. In addition, we discovered special days — like when the Sun rose directly behind the church steeple across the street from us illuminating the spire like a magical fairy tower (near the Equinoxes), or when the Sun set directly behind the downtown Dayton skyline visible from our house (around a cross-quarter day named Beltane or Walpurgis). And those days became important to us just for witnessing the magic of the transitions.
The times for sunrise changed too, starting earlier and earlier as we switched from Spring to Summer until Sunrise stayed at the same time for weeks. Similarly, sunset times stalled as we reached the start of Summer until it too stayed the same for weeks.
Tomorrow (June 7) starts the annual “stop” of the sunrise. Specifically, the Sun will rise every morning at 6:08am in Dayton, Ohio, until June 22, when it will begin rising a minute later every few days, then a minute later every day, then two minutes later every day, picking up speed as we move into Autumn. On June 20, the sunset will halt at 9:08pm in Dayton, Ohio, until July 4 when it will begin to set earlier and earlier each day.
Then for three days—June 20 through 22—the Sun will rise and set at 6:08am and 9:08pm, a time known as the Summer Solstice (more on this in a future newsletter).
What does this have to do with Qigong? In addition to marking the start of Summer season, which focuses on the Fire element (as opposed to Spring Wood element), it’s a reminder that Nature doesn’t always move forward. Nature stops. Nature reverses course. Nature returns. And since we are Nature, it’s natural for us to do the same!
We will be practicing this during Summer because the energy of Fire is circulating—it expands out, but it also comes back around. Likewise, the Qigong movements of Summer are expansive, opening our armpits (which trap heat and cool us down when opened) and circling back around to and from the Heart and Small Intestine—the organs of Summer focus.
Here are a few ways to celebrate this energy of the Sun standing still before switching “directions:”
- Wake up before sunrise and watch the Sun rise, maybe take note of where it rises on the horizon in relation to a stationary point so that you too can watch it now swing back to the North.
- Make sunset a sacred time. I personally brew a cup of tea and curl up in my sunroom half-an-hour before sunset to watch our star sink and change the colors of the sky while simultaneously draining the color from the trees and fields around me.
- Sit out in the sun for a few minutes each day to boost your Vitamin D levels.
- Practice this free 15-minute qigong practice for Circulating Energy from one of my primary instructors — Marisa Cranfil of YOQI. (Note, a good purging exercise to do before this is just 3-5 minutes of Qigong shaking. A good tonifying exercise to do after Qigong shaking is full-lung breathing: Inhale into the back of your lungs; inhale into the side of your lungs under your armpits; inhale into the front of your lungs; then inhale into all three areas at the same time.)
- Pulling Down the Heavens (on the inhale, arms circle out to each side and float up to the sky; on the exhale, palms turn down toward Earth and gently press/float down with elbows out to the sides, armpits open)