Celebrate Summer Solstice with Meditation

06/07/2019 Meditation Meditation Spirituality

The summer solstice (between June 20 and 22 in the Northern Hemisphere) is the longest day of the year. Enjoy a special meditation that day—in the morning or the evening—to honor the mid-year point.

summer

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, for those in the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice marks the longest day of the year while for those who live in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the shortest day of the year. The solstice begins when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most inclined toward the sun. As the astronomy experts for the Farmer’s Almanac say, “The solstice happens at the same moment for everyone, everywhere on Earth.” For those enjoying the longest day of the year, this day is in the middle of the summer vacation, perhaps a time of sun and play, and the beginning of the summer season. For those experiencing the shortest amount of sunlight on this day, the solstice marks the beginning of the winter season. No matter the season for you, traditions of summer solstice celebrations abound.

Middle of the Year

The summer solstice is just around the corner (between June 20 and June 22). If for you it is the day with the most sunlight in the morning and the evening, you have plenty of time to celebrate. The longer the day, the longer time you have to reflect. You have made it to the midpoint of the middle of the year! Whether you mark this mid-year point with meditation, one or two of the variety of practices discussed in this article, or simply pause and notice that you have come halfway through the year, it is the perfect time to acknowledge where you have been and where you are headed.

Summer Solstice Traditions

As you pause to celebrate and reflect, remember that you join in with a long history of cultural celebrations around the world.

  • Temples and other historical public structures in Central America were often built exactly aligned with the shadows cast by major astrological phenomena, specifically the summer and winter solstices. This demonstrates that these times of year were significant to Mayan and Aztec cultures.
  • Stonehenge, the mysterious rock formation located in southern England, is a favored spot for summer solstice sunrise celebrations. On the solstice, the sun rises beautifully between the stacked stones. A long-time summer solstice celebratory tradition is Litha, or Midsummer, during which you may build a sacred fire, gather herbs, decorate your home with wild crafts, and honor the gifts of the sun.
  • A newer summer solstice tradition is the gathering of hundreds of yoga practitioners in Times Square in New York City to practice yoga and celebrate the changing of the seasons. In the past few years, The Times Square Alliance has introduced a counterpoint to the famous New Year's Eve celebration called "Mind Over Madness Yoga.” This free event celebrates the summer solstice with a lineup of yoga teachers throughout the day. About their event, the founders say, “Many cultures have associated the summer solstice with a renewal of mind, body and spirit and a celebration of creative expression—of art, music and the sense of joyfulness and fun that the sunshine evokes in all of us. And what better place to celebrate than in Times Square—for the past hundred years, America's center for creativity, energy, bright lights, and over-the-top artistic expression.”

Whether you choose yoga, fire celebrations, or meditation, it is worth honoring this significant time of year.

Here are some ideas for incorporating meditation into your celebration of light during the summer solstice.

Summer Solstice Meditation at Sunrise

Try celebrating the summer solstice with a seated meditation at sunrise. The benefits of meditation, such as building focus and finding stress relief, are enhanced when your mind is free and clear before the stresses of the day have crept in. Arising before, or with, the sun is a recommended wellness tip from ancient Ayurvedic wisdom as well as modern health coaches. Watching sunlight streaming in through the window in the morning allows your body and mind to awaken naturally. Begin the long solstice day with a few minutes (or an hour if you have time!) of silence and contemplation.

How to Practice

  • Arise anywhere from one hour to even just ten minutes before the sun rises.
  • Find a comfortable seat facing the direction of the rising sun (east). If you are able to go outside, do that. If you are inside, set yourself up to see the first light.
  • Begin with several cleansing breaths to get settled. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then find an even inhale and exhale.
  • Close your eyes or find a soft gaze.
  • Feel your body on the ground. Notice what sensations arise as you sit.
  • Allow yourself to be still. Continue to breathe evenly.
  • Observe any thoughts in your mind. Give yourself permission to be present with what is and to let go of anything unnecessary for the moment.
  • As you sit and breathe, connect with the rising of your breath just like the rising of the sun. With each inhale, imagine you are breathing in pure, warm light. With each exhale, imagine that pure, warm light pouring into your body. This light carries with it potential, possibility, and new perspectives.
  • As the sunlight grows brighter, you may open your eyes to witness the rising sun. If it is too bright, simply close your eyes lightly again.
  • Sit as long as is comfortable for you—breathing in pure, warm light and allowing it to pour into your body.
  • You can come back to this feeling throughout the day to remain centered and calm.
  • As you feel ready, open your eyes and continue with your day.

Summer Solstice Meditation at Sunset

Try celebrating the summer solstice with a seated meditation at sunset. The benefits involved when you meditate, such as calming the nervous system and improving a general sense of well-being, help to prepare the body and mind for a good night’s sleep. Conclude the extended solstice day with a few minutes (or an hour if you have time!) of silence and contemplation for deep relaxation.

How to Practice

  • Find a comfortable seat facing the direction of the setting sun (west). If you are able to go outside, do that. If you are inside, set yourself up to see the final light.
  • Begin with several cleansing breaths to get settled. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then find an even inhale and exhale.
  • Close your eyes or find a soft gaze.
  • Feel your body on the ground. Notice what sensations arise as you sit.
  • Allow yourself to be still. Continue to breathe evenly.
  • Observe any thoughts in your mind. Give yourself permission to be present with what is and to let go of anything unnecessary for the moment.
  • As you sit and breathe, connect with the falling of your breath just like the setting of the sun. With each inhale, imagine you are breathing in pure, cool light. With each exhale, imagine that light pouring over your body. This pure, cool light helps to clear any energetic blockages, releases any doubts, and makes a sacred space for insight and inspiration within you.
  • As the sunlight dims and begins to fade, you may open your eyes to witness the setting of sun on this solstice. If it is still too bright, simply close your eyes lightly again.
  • Sit as long as is comfortable for you, breathing in pure, cool light and allowing it to pour over your body.
  • As you feel ready, open your eyes and continue with your evening or head straight to sleep.

Long Exhale Pranayama

Try celebrating the summer solstice with an intentional breath practice. On this day of a great amount of sunlight, it is important to release the heat from the body. This relaxing and calming breath practice involves lengthening your exhales to twice as long as your inhales. The inhale-long exhale pattern of this breath is reminiscent of the short amount of darkness and long amount of sunlight of the day. This pranayama practice is a soothing way to celebrate the solstice. The benefits include reduced depression, anxiety relief, and lower blood pressure. As a summer solstice celebration, try this breath practice before your seated meditation, after your 108 summer solstice sun salutations, or directly before bed.

How to Practice

  • Rest on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart.
  • Begin with several cleansing breaths to get settled. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Rest one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest.
  • Close your eyes or keep them soft.
  • Begin to even out your breath so that your inhale and exhale breaths are equal in length. This is a 1:1 ratio of inhaling and exhaling. Count silently five counts in and five counts out with each inhale and exhale.
  • After several rounds of even breaths, begin to lengthen your exhale breaths. First, extend your exhale by one count, then two counts, then three counts, and so on.
  • Continue to lengthen your exhales until you can comfortably exhale double (or almost double) the length of your inhale. Count silently to five as you inhale and up to ten counts out with each exhale. This is a 1:2 ratio of inhaling and exhaling.
  • Continue the 1:2 breath practice for several minutes.
  • If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, return to your natural breathing rhythm.
  • When your breath practice is complete, return to your natural breathing rhythm and rest in stillness for a few moments to enjoy the benefits.

108 Summer Solstice Sun Salutations

Try celebrating the summer solstice with a moving meditation. It is a tradition for yogis to practice 108 sun salutations at the changing of the season, and the solstice is just that. You could welcome summer with this auspicious and challenging practice on your own or with a group. Many yoga studios and specialty gyms, like rock climbing gyms, offer a guided 108 practice for summer solstice. Whether you do it solo, find a group of friends to move with, or join a guided practice, put on good music and find something fun to count with (like special rocks or shells).

Whether you are on a beach enjoying the sunshine, in the mountains enjoying the fresh air, joining a community of yoga practitioners, or stuck at work in the air conditioning, honoring the changing of the seasons is a powerful practice. Try rising early with the sun or staying present during the sunset for a seated meditation. Try journaling out some goals for the second half of the year. Honor the Summer Solstice in your own way. Happy summer!


Learn how to use meditation to nourish your entire being—body, mind, and spirit— with Deepak Chopra and Roger Gabriel in our Primordial Sound Meditation Online Course. Learn More.


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About the Author
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Lena Schmidt

Certified Yoga Instructor
Whether it’s exploring the local trails, playing pretzel on the yoga mat, or diving into a book on inner peace, Lena loves an adventure. You can find her teaching yoga in San Diego, leading retreats near and far, and empowering others to be the change they wish to see in the world. Learn more about Lena at www.yoginilena.com The spiritual aspects of yoga have aided Lena in the never-ending search for peace, calm, and positivity within, and she’s passionate about sharing these tools with others. She is intentional about taking yoga off the mat and loves finding the bridges between the heart and mind, the individual and community, and mindfulness and expression...Read more