Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fruits of a Very Small Field


 lettuce and dill, 2012

I was talking with my father yesterday about meditation.  It's been very hot where he lives, so he's been spending his time indoors reading about such things, meditating, and making plans to take his new sailboat out when the weather cools.  He's a man of many interests.

I told him I had difficulty with what I believed to be meditation--clearing one's mind.  He said the mind mustn't be clear, thoughts are to be accepted and then let go.  No need for harsh scrutiny of self.  He also told me that his view of meditation was based on focus.

He shared a memory with me of being a young man, with a brown paper sack of ripe peaches, visiting the beach in summer.  He described the details of the warm sand, the preference of sitting in the sand versus upon a towel, his delight in biting into the sweet juicy peaches, and the sound and view of the vast body of water before him.  He remembered it all, vividly.  

This is my meditation he told me.  I've always meditated.

I said Oh, so it's more like being completely present.  I do that.  Maybe I inherited the trait from you.  I guess I meditate too.

I don't know if Dad's version of meditation matches what others believe, but I like it.

Today I went out to our garden to quickly harvest some lettuces.  As it turned out, there was nothing quick about my visit.  I got lost.  No, I didn't forget how to find our garden, I got lost in the garden.  Maybe the best way to put it is I sort of spaced out, but not in a dangerous way.  It's what happens in gardens.  If you garden, perhaps you know it too.

Sadly, two more of my cucumber vines had been gnawed at the base of the stem by an anonymous critter and therefore put out of commission.  Earlier the same thing had happened to another cucumber plant, and several of my green bean plants.  So unfortunate, but we move on, right?

Anyway, I spent a long time untangling my gnawed cucumber vines from my healthy vines, picking the young almost ripe cucumbers on those vines, visiting the compost pile, discovering some beautifully ripe cucumbers, a yellow crookneck squash that seemed to have doubled in size overnight, basil, dill, chives, a few green beans, and harvesting a bountiful supply of gorgeous leaves from two types of lettuce plants.

I arrived back in the cottage much later than anticipated, a bit disheveled, yet happy and feeling completely accomplished.  Chris looked at me, amused.  I'd gone into some sort of auto-pilot mode out there.  I didn't really think about what I was doing, I just did.  It's like falling into a dream state and then waking up and thinking how much time has passed? Who filled this bowl with produce?

It wasn't really what Dad described, but there was a similarity.  It was the opposite of noticing every detail and much more about working though details on pure instinct.  Maybe dealing with these edible plants is something passed down from ancestors of long ago, those who depended on these behaviors for survival.  I'm not sure.

I clearly wasn't in survival mode, but while I was out there my mind was clear, very clear.  Not one thought from any other part of my life entered that garden, and that clearing took no conscious effort.  Maybe this is my meditation.

45 comments:

  1. It is easy to see how your father has influenced you, Denise. I love how he said that thoughts are to be accepted and then let go- to abstain from harsh self judgement. Looks like you've both got it right. So glad you're enjoying your garden.

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    1. Just said goodbye to the garden this morning. Sigh...

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  2. My yoga teacher told me the same thing about meditation. About how she sees some people getting all high-and-mighty about being able to "clear their minds" when other people can't, and really that is the opposite of meditation. Firstly, because meditation is not about ego. And secondly, because the way she described meditation to me was almost the exact same way your father described it - you have a thought and you notice the thought, you observe it without judgment, and then you let it go. I was imagining that scene out of the Never Ending Story (showing my age here!) where the girl had dreams captured in glass spheres (I think?) and she would hold them up and observe them, one by one....

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    1. I haven't seen Never Ending Story, but love this idea of dreams captured in glass spheres.

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  3. Ah based on this I do meditate.

    Lovely haul. What a wonderful place to get lost, a garden.

    What a treasure to have a garden. Even one full of weeds, she reminds herself.

    xo jane

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    1. The more weeds, the more time spent lost in the garden dealing with them. I know there's some good stuff in there too.

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  4. The first time I experienced something very similar was in a life drawing session (of all things- and what did the model think I wonder?)
    No one else had shown up for the regular session and I drew alone with the model for three hours. (Did she take breaks?) It was pure joy and total concentration. I have never been able to 'empty' my mind and I have always felt ashamed about that 'failing' of mine. Thank you for this post,it opens up a whole new way of approaching meditation. And yes,a garden is such wonderful place to be fully present in!
    xx

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    1. What a treat, for it to be just you and the model. I've only experienced life drawing in a room full of people.

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  5. I agree with you about the gorgeous lettuce leaves-almost too lovely to eat. But you have that equally lovely photo to remember them. Meditation for me is more like mulling cider or steeping tea leaves. It is about infusing rather than emptying. Sounds like you gleaned more from your garden than vegetables.

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    1. Yes, photographs are such a great link to memories.

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  6. The time lost in your garden seems to have been quite productive in more ways than one.

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  7. I tried a formal meditation group setting last month and the 30 minutes meditation period (which initially had me contemplating running for the door) honestly, truly felt like 10 minutes at the most. But the true meditation I do daily happens in my garden. :-)

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    1. I had a similar experience in a group meditation practice I attended once. The 30 minutes seemed easier in the group than trying to quiet my mind for even 10 minutes while alone. I'm still not sure why this was the case.

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  8. i love your relationship with your dad. I have a similar one with mine. I will just call him up (or better, he calls me JUST as I am thinking of him...it happens, a LOT). And we talk about things like this.
    Your dad's day at the beach with the sand and the peach juices sounds like a perfect way to "meditate". Much like your garden walk. I find it interesting that we have to get "lost" to "find" ourselves. Don't you?
    I use my camera sometimes to meditate. it helps me zoom into the details and zoom out of the noise...

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  9. yes, i think this is your meditation. or maybe this is your practice? i've been told that meditation is simply this, "notice the thought, let the thought go, notice the thought, let the thought go" and so on. (happy you are happy in your garden these days.)

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    1. It was a great experience. We said goodbye today, but have 6 nice yellow crookneck squash as temporary souvenirs.

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  10. You have a beautiful blog !
    I can identify with your perspective on meditation as I have been doing it from time to time. I personally feel that there is no perfect time or place for it, neither any perfect technique. I wrote a post on meditation long ago, you can check it here if you are interested !
    http://itssanghamitra.blogspot.in/2012/05/coming-back-to-my-self.html

    I also love your photography in this and in your old posts.

    have a lovely day !

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    1. Thank you. I'll take a look at your perspective.

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  11. These meditations come on without warning. A beautiful feeling.

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  12. The nonjudgmental aspect of meditation/mindfulness has really helped me over the years. To realize that you are not your thoughts, your thoughts and feelings (especially those painful ones) are transitory and are only a small part of you, at any given moment. There is reassurance in that.

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  13. Your experience in the garden reminded me of a section I'd just read from Verlyn Klinkenborg's book "Several Short Sentences About Writing." Allow me to share:

    Is it possible to practice noticing?
    I think so.
    But I also think it requires a suspension of yearning
    And a pause in the desire to be pouring something out of yourself.
    Noticing is about letting yourself out into the world,
    Rather than siphoning the world in you
    In order to transmute it into words

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    1. P.S. Bravo for getting into Taproot. You have provided one more reason I eagerly await the day's mail.

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    2. Hi, Rachael. I like this Verlyn Klinkenborg excerpt you've shared, especially the suspension of yearning part. I suppose true observation rests somewhere between taking and giving. From what I've seen online, the new issue of Taproot looks like a good one. I'm looking forward to seeing it in print. My piece is one of my favorites, from back in 2010.

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  14. oh I like these thoughts very much. I'm going to do much meditation on these stanzas.

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  15. Your dad sounds wonderful. I've found mindfulness/meditation to be hard to define too at times - but I think that sense of 'being in the moment' that you so beautifully articulate is getting at the heart of the matter. I find it lately when I'm doing ballet, I'm in the moment but not too in my head in the moment - a sort of timeless feeling.

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  16. I appreciate your father's view on meditation. Being present is so much more accessible to people than they realize. Me included sometimes. :)

    xo
    cortnie

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  17. You paint such beautiful word pictures. Lovely thoughts on meditation! I myself practice and so often struggle with the art of meditation. It's hard to let go. I'm glad you found some moments for yourself in the garden.

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    1. We had to say goodbye to the garden, Annette. I'm missing it today.

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  18. Your Dad sounds wonderful Denise! Hooray for inspiring Dads everywhere:) I really like the idea that mediation can be somewhat freeform, a different form of flow or present-ness for each person. There is no one-way I guess but whatever keeps you feeling that sense of timelessness. Thank you for the beautiful reminder.

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  19. I like your take on meditation, as I too have always had too busy a mind to feel like I could deliberately clear my mind, etc. But allowing thoughts to come and go? Letting myself get transported while hanging with my veggies? Hanging out laundry on the line and letting thoughts come and go? Oh yes.

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  20. Oh that sounds lovely! Definitely sounds like meditation to me - with the added bonus of bringing something gorgeous in for dinner. The best kind! : )

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    1. Alisa... You have me missing my garden. Boo hoo.

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  21. The description of your father at the beach feels so tangible. His description of meditation is akin to what I believe, the surrender to the moment you are in, and letting your thoughts float through you...the ability to be there and present in the moment, but not in the noise surrounding you. Just being.

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    1. These are aspects of my father I did not know when I was younger. It's nice to know you can learn new things about people you've known for so long.

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  22. I think that yes, this is a meditation, your meditation.
    And I like.
    Happy Saturday :)

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  23. This is such a lovely post Denise. I always lose myself in the garden and it is one of the very good things in life.

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    1. Isn't it, Kath... I was sad to say goodbye to my garden. Time to lose myself in new urban ways.

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