In The Moment Hold on to Summer Bliss with These Mindfulness Tips

by Michelle Gross | May 24, 2018

Just like flickering fireflies on a warm July night, summer often seems to pass by in a flash.

While there’s no way to guarantee an endless summer, you can make the most of this glorious, yet fleeting, time of year. It starts with a slight mindset shift. Think of it as swapping out your heavy winter gear for a light and breezy wardrobe — but for your mental and physical outlook. How do you make that change? Mindfulness experts and summer enthusiasts offer their insights on being — and, more importantly, staying — in a more mindful mode all summer long.

Adjust your mind and body

It starts with noticing the changes. “We live in a busy world, so it’s important as summer approaches to be on the lookout at the world around you and adjust your mind and body accordingly,” says Dr. Elisha Goldstein, co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living in Los Angeles, CA, and creator of A Course in Mindful Living. “When you do that, your mind and body slow down and you’re more aware of what’s happening in the moment.”

Goldstein then stresses the importance of getting outside to engage in the natural world as often as possible. “Anything you can do to get your body moving,” Goldstein says. “I recommend doing yoga, taking walks outside or finding a tai chi class. Our bodies are really important when it comes to this practice. Even going outside and noticing the sounds around you and being aware of what you’re listening to can be a great way to reflect and bring this sense of mindfulness into your daily life.”

To make that time outdoors memorable, challenge yourself to try something new; for instance, commit to that outdoor trapeze school, learn the ropes at the local sailing club or take that salsa dancing class in the park.

One way Alden Wicker, editor-in-chief of the sustainability website, has learned to hold onto summer’s embrace: steer clear of recycled air. “I've found one philosophy has helped me be in the moment is to avoid air conditioning,” Wicker says. “When you leave in the morning, try riding your bike instead of taking the bus, and avail yourself of every sidewalk cafe and park so you can soak up some vitamin D. I guarantee you'll reach the end of summer with more of an appreciation for the longer days.”

Being aware of what you’re listening to can be a great way to reflect and bring this sense of mindfulness into your daily life.
End Quote

Change of scenery

For many of us, summer is the perfect opportunity to take that long-awaited trip. Kaela Gagliardi, a fifth-grade public school teacher based in Golden, CO, says, “One of the big perks of being a teacher is having the summers off, and I definitely try to take advantage of the freedom that comes with that time.” She plans to travel with family and friends this summer, and believes her journeys give her a sense of purpose during her time off.

No need to plan for an entire summer away to get the benefits from a change of scenery. Make the most of those long summer weekends with last-minute road trips — keeping things spontaneous is a sure way to draw out the season.

Also, lose the crowds by heading to beach destinations, say in the Caribbean or Mexico, that are otherwise packed in winter but less in demand as people flock to northern beaches. You’re more likely to find a quiet spot to yourself on the beach, and possibly off-season deals, too.

Ryan Frandino, a recent forestry graduate from Clemson University turned full-time forester based in Saratoga, WY, has spent the last five summers working and enjoying life in the Rocky Mountains. “Forestry is a great sustainable practice that helps improve the wildlife habitat and clear the woods to prevent wildfires from occurring while allowing me to go out into the forest, enjoy fresh air, see gorgeous scenery and practice conservation at the same time,” says Frandino.

You don’t have to dedicate your career to forestry, but you can get a taste of the lifestyle by helping to repair hiking trails in your area, pitch in for park clean-up days or donate your time at a local botanical garden. Digging in the dirt is a guaranteed way to immerse yourself in nature and the season.

Connect with others

For Goldstein, the mindfulness coach, staying present this summer also comes down to having a strong support system. “Find people and make friends with others who are naturally inspiring,” Goldstein says. “Think of who in your life that also wants to live mindfully to support you. People are the greatest environmental cues, and those social cues remind us to live in this particular way on a daily basis.”

Stephanie Palmer agrees. An avid hiker and Women Who Hike ambassador for South Dakota, Palmer believes that that embracing nature not only keeps you mindful, but also helps to develop friendships. “When you’re outdoors, you really start to forget those everyday problems,” Palmer says. “It’s a judgment-free space where you really have time with people who matter. In everyday life it’s harder to have these meaningful conversations, but being up on the trail and in nature with people, it’s easy to really connect on a deeper level. It reminds you how small you are and how big the world is around you.”

Find people and make friends with others who are naturally inspiring.
End Quote

Leave time for yourself

No matter where you go or what you do, remembering to take time for yourself every day will help keep things in perspective and allow you to enjoy a more meaningful summer.

Unlike other seasons, try not to overschedule every free moment. Leave space to steal away and have your morning coffee outside. Take time to stroll to a park with a notebook to jot down your thoughts or sketch the surrounding trees.

Also, in staying mindful, don’t skimp on the simplest — yet sweetest — pleasures of the season. Order the extra scoop of ice cream, pull off the road and jump in that lake for a swim and kick off your shoes for an evening stroll beneath the stars.

Michelle Gross

makes the most of her summer eating and exploring cities around the world. Her work has been featured in Travel + Leisure, Vogue, Men’s Journal and The San Francisco Chronicle.