Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Virginia Beach, Virginia. Nags Head, North Carolina. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Every summer of my baby boomer childhood, my family took a two-week vacation to Some Atlantic Beach City, USA. Most often, I grumbled as I took my place in the backseat of my dad’s Chevy, for I knew it would mean spending hours and hours sticking to hot, vinyl car seats, fighting carsickness and vying for bits of space not already occupied by my older brother’s ever-growing long legs.
My mother would disregard the grumbling, offer salty snacks to quiet our angry stomachs, suggest word games to play or license plates to look for — anything to keep us from distracting my father from his driving tasks. I admit that my grumbles more than once grew into full-blown sobbing fits. I was certainly missing everything happening at home while I was gone. My summer would be ruined!
“Nonsense,” my mother assured me. “It will be good for what ails you.”
Is it a coincidence that so many people choose to vacation next to the ocean? I know it was my father’s favorite vacation spot, but I doubt it was my mother’s. We shared a family joke that she loved everything about the beach — except she didn’t swim and was actually rather afraid of the water, and she burned so easily she didn’t enjoy being anywhere near the sun, and she hated getting sand in her shoes and on the blanket and in the sandwiches, and the wind actually gave her a stiff neck.
It would seem logical that she never really enjoyed our family vacations at the shore. But, she did. She loved sharing photos of the trip with friends, and recalling the beauty of the location and how good it was to get away and relax. It had been just what she had needed!
What is so special about the beach? To me, it’s like having a giant hug from all of the Elements at the same time. I never feel more grounded than when I can feel the sand under my bare toes. My own heartbeat joins in the rhythm of the water rolling onto the shore and my worries are blown away from my consciousness by the gentle ocean breezes. The brightness and warmth of the Sun fills me with my own personal sense of power and a renewed sense of strength for my own spiritual growth. And it is never a more magickal place than during Litha, when the Sun is high in the sky, and shining down on long, warm summer days.
These are perfect days to work on gaining a better balance with the Elements. Long, barefoot walks on the beach will help you to feel more grounded. Practicing yoga poses, particularly the standing poses, will help you feel a better sense of balance and connection to your home and those you live or work with. Gaining a better connection with the Element of Earth will help you have the courage to do the things that need to be done in your life — even the hard stuff.
Stand on the shore and turn your face to the wind. Spread your arms and close your eyes; allow the wind to blow freely through your hair Spend time connecting with the Element of Air and imagine yourself learning to express yourself more effectively. Do you have a habit of speaking your mind before you have carefully given thought to what you would say? Have you been allowing yourself to gossip or speak cynically? It’s time to “go out and get the stink blown off”, as my father would say. Reconnect with the Element of Air and cultivate wisdom.
Most of us have had the experience of trying to stand and not allow a strong wave to move us. Sometimes, we don’t see the wave coming, or we underestimate it, and we get knocked off our feet. We need to learn how to master our own emotions, and to control destructive mood swings. Having a healthy connection to the Element of Water will enable you to become a more compassionate and understanding person. I like to do an exercise while floating on my back in water (a swimming pool works best for this). I relax totally, close my eyes and allow the water to move me. Usually, I feel I have not gone far from my original spot, only to find I have suddenly bumped into the side of the pool! Ears in the water, the sounds around me are muted, allowing me to listen to my own head sounds and making it difficult to stay tuned in to my surroundings. This is a great exercise in learning how to listen and how to interpret your situation, using your own intuition.
Stand in the Sun too long and you will receive a burn. The same is true when you are out of balance with the Element of Fire. Work on ways to express and nurture your passions, while remaining productive. If you light too many small fires, and never add fuel to any of them, they will all burn out quickly. Do what you love, but finish what you do. This takes practice for most of us, but you will be rewarded if you learn how to channel your passions productively.
This Litha, I’m all about seeking Elemental balance. It will be good for what ails me.
I wish you blessings.