Summer “Slow-Down” Syllabus

This is no ordinary syllabus, and yet it has the potential to take you to school on something that’s vital to living fully.

It’s time to pause. Notice. Living fully present means living open-hearted, single-minded, and body-aware.

Why not try a couple of these ideas this summer to bring more presence to your days. Bring your best to your relationships, your own self-development, your connection to God, and your contribution to the world.

 
 
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Put Your Phone to Bed

No really. Let this be the summer you stop sleeping with your phone. When you sleep with it, you’re cheating on your life. Buy an ‘old-school’ alarm clock (here’s one on Amazon!), and give your phone it’s own cozy nook to enjoy the nocturnal hours. Even better? Give yourself as much time in the morning before you check it. The extra time you’ve got can be used for grounding, centering, praying and reflecting (even if it’s just 5 minutes!)

Create a Playlist

Music can have a profound impact on helping us relax, open up, and tune into our heart. Which songs would you pick to help you slow down, breathe deeper and feel grounded in the moment? I’m digg’in a band called “Hammock” these days. Chill, soothing, and hauntingly achy that puts me in touch with my heart. (psst... If you join the Book Club, you’ll have access to SoulPlay’s Summer Playlist on Spotify!)

Breathe

Inhale. Exhale. It’s one of the most unconscious actions we make everyday and it is a regulator of well-being. Only a handful of deep belly breaths helps activate our para-sympathetic nervous system (rest & digest) while turning down the fight/flight/freeze stress system. Give it a shot right now. Take four deep belly breaths and notice how you feel. Could you get in a habit of doing more of this breath work this summer? Consider using your breath as a way to pray ‘ceaselessly’ as the ancients taught.

Poetry

If you’re new to the poetry scene, you’re not alone. So many people think poetry is for ‘smarty-pants elites’ who seem to know something the rest of us don’t. But, inviting poetry into your days has an uncanny effect - it grounds, evokes, and centres. It has a beautiful ability to tap into the subterranean parts of your soul. Don’t know where to start? Try this. Or, check out some of the selections on my shelf these days (see pic on left).

Social Media Sabbatical

If you don’t post something online, does it mean it didn’t happen? Does it mean it wasn’t meaningful? Of course not, but sometimes we need a little break to be reminded of this. If you find yourself thinking of a caption before, or while you’re taking a picture, you’re not IN the moment - and that’s a problem. So, maybe you can take a few less pictures, and post less this summer. Better yet, give yourself (and the rest of us!) the gift of a full de-clutter! We’ll trust you’ve had a great summer with loads of fun, even if you don’t post! :) . Check out this podcast on “Digital Minimalism”

Earbuds Out!

Take some time walking this summer on the beach, in your neighborhood, on the trail, with just the sound of your feet hitting the ground, the birds overhead, the wind blowing, the traffic passing you by, and anything else that is WITH YOU in the moment. Notice it all. Be present to Presence. Give thanks for it all.

Create a special ‘Summer Ritual’

The season is often full of celebrations - weddings, anniversarys, graduations and birthdays. But, what about the ‘ordinary’ days? Why not create a daily or weekly ritual to bring some meaning into the seemingly mundane moments - create a summer prayer to recite, plant a special flower to watch and tend, take a daily/weekly gratitude walk.

Anything can become a spiritual practice once you are willing to approach it that way - once you let it bring you to your knees and show you what is real, including who you really are, who other people are, and how near God can be when you have lost your way.
— Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

And, if you’re looking for a good summer read with some extra-special resources, it’s your last chance to get in on the Book Club.

Deadline to sign up is June 30.

Resources include:

  • Contemplative practices - specific practices that compliment the chapters and instructions to support you all summer long.

  • Videos, poetry and music (including a special Summer Spotify Playlist made special for the club)

  • 2 Guest Zoom call recordings with Bethel Lee (of Yoga Chapel) and Paul Swanson (of Contemplify)

  • Invitation to a mini-retreat in the Hamilton/Burlington area on Saturday, July 27 from 1pm - 3pm

  • Chapter questions to help you dig deeper and get the most out of the book

Have a super summer!