Almost everyone I know has at some time had a sunburn. Nowadays I am ridiculously careful with sunscreen every day having had a skin cancer scare a number of years ago. Before then, I often didn't realize that I had had too much Sun until a day later when my skin was inflamed and sensitive. I can recall times when just a fingertip running across my arm felt like someone dragging a rusty nail across my skin. There have been times when the sunburn was bad enough that even a cool soothing balm felt like an assault upon my skin. There was also, in those extreme cases, a sense of malaise as well. Nature often repeats certain patterns, and human nature perhaps even more often. I have often observed that what we experience in our physical bodies is also similar to what we experience in our souls, our psyches, and our spirits. I think that we can get a soulburn, and it is very much like a sunburn. By the way, a soulburn is not the same thing as burnout which is what happens when we do too much and burn the candle and both ends and the middle.  

The Sun is the source of the energy that feeds life, drives the weather, and holds the Earth in its place. The Sun can also scorch the earth, shrivel the greenery, and can be a bane as much as it can be a benefit. It is all a matter of how much Sun, and how well prepared we are to meet its rays. I think the same can be said for the events that when strung together become the days and the seasons of our lives. Of late, the rays of life seem to be particularly intense. The clash of cultures and ideologies and religions seems like a relentless din. Reports on the state of the environment seem to read like a patient's chart in a terminal ward. The intentional and unintentional Sargasso of distortion that floats through news media, the blogs, and social media makes it almost impossible to determine whether the last terrible thing we read is true or not. Even what could be a source of support, our chosen communities, are often the source of our most grievous disappointments and injuries. I could continue listing and naming, but I won't. The astrologer in me can certainly point to all the arcane figures in the heavens that can be read to mean that there are great challenges ahead. However, it might be better to say that it is high noon at the height of Summer, and that you should take care lest you get a bad soulburn.


When you have a bad soulburn, everything in the world is too much and you just can’t even. The fact that the phrase “can’t even” has become common tells us how common soulburn has become. When you have a soulburn even, or I should say especially, the efforts of your friends and loved ones can feel like barbed wire instead of hugs or reassurances. Just like when you are sunburned and the morning sunlight feels like strafing lasers, exposing yourself to the current normal level of intensity of the world can feel like you are being hurt. It is also easy to be unkind, impatient, and unforgiving when you are feeling unwell or when you are anxious that everything is going to produce a sharp sensation. All of this creates a feedback loop that makes it harder for you, and harder for the world around you. Remember that everyone is a Star, a Sun. Unlike sunburn, where there is only the Sun in the heavens, each of us is a spark of the Sun on Earth and collectively we create the days and the seasons of our lives that warm or burn our souls, psyches, and spirits.


Soulburn can be managed, healed, and often prevented. The three treatments that I have found effective are common sense, chosen thoughts, and hope. If you had a bad sunburn would be advisable to go sunbathing? Common sense suggests that you should avoid further overexposure. Use common sense when it comes to soulburn. Often we are drawn to further excess, and instead of avoiding further soulburn we subject ourselves to even more. Everyone, no matter how sturdy their skin may be, can develop a sunburn. The same is true for soulburn, but there is often a sense of weakness or failing attached to the admission of having limits of tolerance. It is a mark of wisdom, not shame, to seek the cool shade. This does not mean completely avoiding human contact, it means choosing carefully until the soulburn is healed. How we choose to understand and to experience life events can be thought of as the equivalent of sunscreen for soulburn. Equanimity allows us to filter out the rays that burn while remaining in the rays of life. There are many kinds of hope, but the one that serves us best during intense times is the hope that asserts that change for the better is possible and may become probable through our actions.


One of the wonderful outcomes of being mindful of soulburn, and its healing, is that we improve not only our own conditions but our collective conditions. As more people step out of the cycles that build more and more overreaction, it becomes easier for everyone to return to a more balanced state of being. Each of us is radiating thoughts and feelings that have an impact on all of us. Of late, I'm always reminding myself to be more like the Sun of Spring that awakens life, and the Sun of Autumn that ripens the harvest. From where I stand, we don't need much more of the Sun of Summer that burns or the Sun of Winter that withholds. My metaphors and analogies may or may not work for you, but I hope you’ll take into consideration the gist of what I've had to say and adapt it for your own needs.