Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Fear-Dispelling Buddha


With all the political shenanigans going on, i am relying on the fear-dispelling Buddha near my front door.

Who, me? Worry? Well, yes. I find my amydala (Danger! Danger!) is activated by the news.

Yet the fear-dispelling Buddha stands, silently reminding me to let fear go.

His right hand is raised as if to say Stop! Stop that obsessive mind. His left hand is lowered as if to say Drop it. Let it go.

How do you stop the discursive mind? My favorite practice right now is to say--out loud if need be--Cancel. Cancel. Cancel that thought. I don't want to make the rut of that worrying thought any deeper.

Give it a try today. Every time a sad, anxious, or mean thought passes through your mind, simply say Cancel. Cancel. even if you have to say it repeatedly.

I find that Cancel. Cancel. allows me to drop the thought for a second. Let it go. Notice that one second of peace. That's a one-second vacation from the obsessive mind. What a relief!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Path Paved with Yellow Leaves

Yellow birch leaves are fluttering to earth, at times looking like soft yellow rain. My woodland path is paved with gold.

Every morning, i follow my personal "yellow brick road" to meditation at a neighbor's house. 

Meditation offers all sorts of obstacles--lack of determination (the scarecrow), tension and tightness (the tin man), and lack of heart (the lion). Yet we persevere, confident that our path will lead us to our natural state, which is not Kansas, but kindness.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Lemon-y Sorrel

With the advent of cool weather, French sorrel is reappearing in my herb garden. I cut some of its spinach-looking leaves and make a lemon-chicken-rice soup--without the lemon since my sweetie is allergic to citrus. Sorrel is a good substitute for that lemon-y taste.

Some people cannot tolerate what we might say--whether about politics or religion. We want to give them a taste of true kindness whether or not they are tolerant, whether or not they are kind to us. This is a steep practice.

My sweetie, who doesn't like sour tastes, enjoyed the sorrel soup.

Friday, September 25, 2020



I bought a pale yellow datura in the spring. Since the summer was hot and dry, not much happened, but now that it's cool and dry, the Georgia O'Keefe flower is blooming.

I've grown the lavender daturas (a.k.a. jimsonweed) before and sworn off the thorny seed pod because next year, datura pops up in several places. Mostly, i weed out the little seedlings, but this year i kept one lavender datura out in the vegetable garden. 

Like the scattering of datura seeds, we never know how the effects of our actions ripple out, but ripple they do. That's a good reason to speak and act as skillfully as we are able.

In these days of heated political dissension, it's especially important to act and speak as calmly as we can.

 Victory begets hatred; 

the defeated dwell in pain. 

Happily the peaceful live, 

discarding both victory and defeat.

Datura is a poisonous plant. Speaking poisonous words only poisons our own heart.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Potato Harvest


Today i dug up 5 gallons of potatoes. I wonder how many pounds that is? One thing i know: It's heavy.

Now for the cleaning and sorting. After washing, i want them to dry out and for their skins to "heal." I know from past experience that sending them straight to the 55-degree basement will cause them to mold. So the potatoes need to dry out for a few days, yet not be exposed to the sun lest they get sunburn--their skins turn green. 

So i put each batch in a flat, cover it with a dish towel, and store it under the dining room table for a few days. We are not expecting company for dinner any time soon, so no one will know.

Digging potatoes is like searching for buried treasure. The Buddha's teachings are a treasure that will feed us for the rest of our lives.

Meanwhile, i have enough potatoes to last me several months.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Mulch Hay

Part of putting the garden to bed includes mulching the vegetable garden. First, the onion beds, then the winter squash bed, and finally the potato bed.

I call my local farmer, Bonnie, who knows how to load my pickup truck with 22 bales of hay. Right now, i ask her for only 10. The mulch hay i put on the garlic bed, the gladiola bed, the potato bed in the spring has become thin. The local turkeys are taking dust baths in the dirt there. I need a new thick layer to prevent grass from creeping in to the beds. By next spring, the hay will have dissolved into dirt. Oh, the soil in those beds is so deliciously dark and writhing with earthworms.

It's hard to believe, but taking a break from the world--meditating or going on retreat--can make us feel more alive. We mulch our world by muting all the incoming texts, phone calls, emails, and news. Stress dissolves. We begin to actually feel our bodies. Hey! I'm alive! Feel that.

These winter months of hibernation are a great time to retreat. I'm doing a 10-day silent retreat in October. How about you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Leaping Clear


Another frost warning prompted us to bring all the houseplants indoors. I also bring in the flowerpots from the front step, and those pots are heavy. I do believe i got in a day's worth of weightlifting.

Out the door. In the door. Suddenly a frog was sitting on the floor of the solarium. We tried to corral her through the exit door, but she leapt for the window.

That's when i put on my inner 10-year-old boy and acted like a hunter. Got her!

She tried to squeeze out of my clutching hands. I barely got out the door, and she won the contest. Leaping clear.

Sometimes, we truly do not know where safety lies. It seems like safety should be over there (sunlight through the window), but it's actually over here (through the door).

Mindfulness is the door. Open the sense doors of mindfulness--seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting. Freedom lies in this very moment.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Frost Warning

It's supposed to freeze tonight, so i've spent the day harvesting the garden. I've picked all the green tomatoes and the green beans. I've also harvested calaloo.

Calaloo is a spinach-like green from Trinidad & Tobago. In July, a friend gave me a 6-pack, and now each plant is 5 feet tall. I chop the leaves and steam them for a few minutes before packing them into freezer bags. You know how greens cook down. I now have eight quart bags full.

When the first frost approaches our lives, what will we say that our lives cooked down to? All those years, and what does it add up to?

I recently heard a guided meditation on a near death experience. Here's the song that played in the background of the visualization.

Why have you come to earth? Do you remember?

Friday, September 18, 2020

Scared Katydid

I brought a basil plant indoors to make pesto, and a katydid hopped on to the counter. I managed to capture her, and she wandered around my arm for a minute, but the whole encounter obviously scared the s**t out of her.

Fear is running rampant in our society right now. The question is: Am I going to pick it up? Or am I going to leave it right there--in the TV, on the radio, in the newspaper? I don't have to take it on board.

Yes, it seems like fear arrives in the mind in the middle of the night. That's one reason i have a policy: No mention of politics and no news after sunset. I know what exacerbates fear in the middle of the night--too much news, which gives rise to a feeling of powerlessness.

The katydid hopped off my arm and onto the deck. Enable your mind to hop off of fear.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Turkeys Eating Ticks

 I opened my eyes during meditation this morning and saw 22 turkeys strolling across my lawn. Heads down, alert to their surroundings. They were all pecking at the grass--eating ticks, i assume.

Have you seen the movie My Life as a Turkey? A wildlife rehabilitator raises a clutch of motherless turkey eggs, and he himself sees much more life in the woods than usual because he is seeing as a turkey.

When we look closely at our own inner landscape, we see much more than we usually do. We might see the arising of a thought, the disappearance of a feeling. Last spring, i discovered the earliest warning sign of oncoming sleepiness--heaviness behind my forehead.

Knowing that the turkeys are cleaning my garden and woods of tick pests, i feel much safer.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Lettuce Wagon

My meditation friend Paula grew her lettuce in containers this summer and had lettuce all summer long. Here's how she did it: She put her pots of lettuce in a wagon. In the morning, she let it welcome the sunny day; in the afternoon, she wheeled the wagon into the shade. On 90 degree days, she parked her lettuce wagon in her cool basement.

What's the best climate for growing our mindfulness?

I sit outdoors on the deck at 6 a.m. The coolness keeps me alert. Even just a little warmth can make me wilt.

And what good is wilted lettuce?

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Apples Tempting Deer

 Deer - Paradise Nursery

The old apple tree in my lawn is dropping apples, so i hurry out there and pick them up before the deer discover them. Sometimes, a squirrel scurries away, so i throw his partially-eaten apple into the woods. I really do not want the deer browsing in my flowerbeds. What they don't know (i.e., that apples grow here) won't hurt them.

Sometimes, what we don't know does eventually hurt us.Ignorance is not always bliss. Ignorance is what keeps the wheel of samsara turning. Through meditation and mindfulness, we begin to see things as they really are.

Really, i should say that what the deer don't know won't hurt me, my feelings, or my garden.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Hummingbirds Farewell

On Tuesday, a hummingbird hovered near me for a few seconds. Is she saying good-bye? i wondered.

Yes. She was. Our hummingbirds have gone south for the winter. I loved it when one of them sat near me on the deck while i was meditating at 6 a.m.

We don't know when we are saying farewell for the last time. As winter approaches and we expect a surge in COVID, we really do not know when good-bye may surprise us and be the last adieu.

My prayers go with all hummingbirds, flying south.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Kiwis are Ripe


Kiwis are ripening here in the North Country and are for sale at our local farmstand. To distinguish them from their southern hemisphere cousins, they are sometimes called "kiwi berries." They are about twice the size of grapes, and they taste, well, just like a kiwi.

Kiwi season is short--mid- to late-September--so don't dally. Look for and buy kiwis soon. Now.

No dallying around that spiritual practice either. Meditate. Pray. Practice mindfulness. Practice compassion--which we need a ton of right now.

Kiwis are sweet. Let's sweeten our mind while we may.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Baby Loon

We are home now after spending a week in a cabin on a lake. A cabin with no wifi.

The small lake had a pair of loons with one chick. I was surprised that the downy chick was so young this late in the season. It still had not learned how to dive.

It often swam with its head underwater--to see what food might be down there or perhaps to see where Mother Loon was or what she was bringing home to eat.

One of the big challenges in meditation is to stay alert even when we feel our energy is sinking. If we can stay as alert as the loon chick, even when we feel underwater, it is quite an accomplishment. Interest re-ignites energy, and then we are swimming along in meditation again.