15 minutes of topless gardening could be the best thing you do for stress and anxiety all summer!
I understand that this might not be easily done for a variety of reasons, like neighbors, access to a private outdoor space, and if your family isn’t accustomed to you walking around topless you may have to navigate that too. If you can….do it.
I grew up in Mendocino, a small coastal town four hours north of San Francisco. In the 1980’s and 90’s there was one radio station with a top forty countdown every other week and a Beatles hour on Saturdays, no TV. Nature was our playground which included a variety of nude swimming holes. Selection depended on how far the coastal summer fog reached. In general I know that in the United States it is rare to experience the topless beaches like in Europe.
I’ve now lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico for over twenty years, where the sun shines a glorious 350 days a year. Every spring there comes a day when the sun’s warmth tips towards summer and I feel the urge to strip off my shirt and soak up the warmth. While a little shocking at first the rush of joy I feel when the warm sun hits my breasts and chest is exhilarating.
Why would 15 minutes of topless gardening be the best thing you could do for your heart this summer?
If you can free your body from the sensation of clothing on your skin I really encourage you to go for it! As clothing falls away we release the boundaries between our bodies and the natural elements. Communication becomes clearer. At first this can feel vulnerable and truly naked. Maybe naked means that we have come back to ourselves and are standing in an exhilaratingly powerful place?
The body has a variety of different forms of Qi, Gu Qi that comes from the food we eat, Yuan Qi that provides energy for the functions of the body, and then there is Wei Qi that hovers over our skin and just barely goes beneath the surface. Think of Wei Qi as a part of your immune system. It defends you from the outer world like viruses, chills in the air, or toxic energy in general. When skin first feels the warmth of the sun Wei Qi starts to vibrate and build up strength. Naturally you might find yourself taking a deep breath, filling your lungs and deeply relaxing as you sigh out all the tension of spring. Lungs carry grief and are in charge of our skin, they are the canopy that helps protect the other organs below. The Heart known as the Emperor in Chinese medicine starts to glow. The sun penetrates the Heart filling it with Yang Qi. This is when seemingly out of nowhere your eyes swell with tears of joy (the emotion of the Heart) and relief!
Let’s think about the body again in terms of Yin and Yang. The Yang side is the back side, the part that is exposed when you curl up in pain and sadness, protecting you physically from the outer world. The Yin side is the front side, the soft, inner world, like the energy of the moon in the middle of the night. By exposing your breasts and belly to the sun you are energizing your inner world with Yang energy. During the summer, Yang season, we store up Yang Qi for the winter. We need to stoke the inner fire to keep our digestion strong and immune system robust. When you bend over to garden and your back is to the sun you are boosting your Yang and building precious reserves.
Gardening intentionally connects you with the earth, tuning into the giving and receiving of energy. This doesn’t mean you have to be out there sweating away with shovels and wheelbarrow. Laying on the ground watching ants on the grass will do. There are points on the tips of the fingers called Jing Well points, the majority of meridians begin or end here. They are a gateway into the body. Using your fingertips to pull weeds stimulates these points, releasing tension.
For this year’s first topless gardening debut I was inspired to turn on some Top Petty, Full Moon Fever. It reminds me of hot summer days in the late 80’s Petty was often blasting from my childhood home out in the middle of the redwood forest.
Feeling free I allowed myself to move around free doing whatever I was inspired to do next. Eventually my attire evolved to gardening gloves, old jeans, and an old beat up straw cowboy hat. I like to give my skin a few minutes of sunscreen free time so I can soak up vitamin D first but I set a timer to make sure I slather on sunscreen and don’t get burned.
It is my hope that people feel inspired to allow the power of the sun to penetrate their chests this summer, releasing stress that constricts the heart!