August 17, 2012 · 6:33 pm
Dharma is that which upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe. It is a duty rooted in justice, social harmony and human happiness. Many religions believe that beings living in accordance with dharma proceed more quickly toward personal liberation.
I have always felt that growing food to share with my community is part of my dharma. I want to be a leader and educator about the importance of local food systems. Having worked on several farms since college, I came to Kripalu to take a step back from the fields and ask myself what are my next steps regarding my passion for food production? Where am I needed? I know I am on this planet to do more than farm labor.
It is clear since arriving at Kripalu almost four months ago that the path I am on is exactly where I belong. We have grown a very successful garden here and now we are teaching classes for guests about the intersection of yoga and gardening. I am discovering part of my dharma is to teach people about the interconnection between cultivating deep love for ourselves in order to be strong warriors for the planet.
I did not expect to be doing any gardening this season at a yoga center, but my supervisor is very supportive of creating more food gardens and wildflower fields so there is less lawn. My skills and interests are being incorporated into my seva (service), which feels really rewarding. The staff and guests greatly appreciate the fresh produce as well.
When I am not gardening, I am landscaping (not my dharma). As I mow lawns, weed-wack slopes, and mulch flower beds, my thoughts are elsewhere. The blaring hum of the small motors in my possession allow for deep personal inquiry. I block out all outside noise. I begin to dream of the future. What do I want? Where will I create my home?
Yes, Home. Gardens. Blueberries. Hammock. Cat. Dog. Chickens. Goats. Partner. Kitchen. Woodstove.
Right now, sitting on my bunk in a dorm with 15 other women makes this dream feel awfully distant. Even though I am practicing how to be grateful and content in the present, I yearn for more.
The breeze outside brings cooler air, which, to me, means change. Over the next six months I am going to put every doubt and fear aside. I am going to wake up from the grogginess late summer lays over us with heat and humidity. I am going to prepare for my next steps in making my dreams of a home come true. Hopefully, my work and home life is in alignment with my dharma because when I am leading from my heart, everything else falls into place.
July 21, 2012 · 11:58 am
photo by John Trimarchi
The five of us piled into my station wagon with trays of heart shaped pizza and vegan, gluten free cookies. The air was stagnant and humid so I rolled up the windows and blasted the A/C for a bit of relief. After working a full day under the hot sun, I deserved to be comfortable for our 45-minute ride to rural northwestern Massachusetts.
Destination: a small healing center run by a woman in her 60’s with the help of her daughter and her daughter’s fiancé. Our dinner with these three lovely people was the beginning of what could be a very exciting project. They are looking for stewards of the land who share the dream of living in community while building a sustainable farm and sanctuary for deep healing and connection with the Earth. My friends and I are exploring the idea of joining with open hearts and calm minds.
After a delicious meal, we ironed out our intentions of coming together. We climbed the red-carpeted stairs up to the meditation room where we found back-jacks in a circle around a green unlit candle and four crystals. Each of us smudged ourselves in burning sage then sat upright for a deep meditation clearing the air for the next hour. I felt my body planted onto the ground with my heart rising. The universe has put me, yet again, exactly where I belong. Gratitude filled my entire being.
We each shared our heart’s desires, our visions, and why we value living in a community. Words sounded out of my mouth as if some greater force was speaking. My thoughts were clear, simple, and true. Everyone’s messages created one large cohesive vibration in the room. Although I sat still, the room was humming with excitement.
After each person spoke, I felt my cup getting more and more full. Will it spill over? What happens when we all connect on a greater level than deemed imaginable? It feels as if I have known this group forever even though I met the four friends I drove with three months ago and we only just met the others an hour earlier. We spoke the same language, breathed the same air, and shared the same vision.
After the meeting, we hugged and said goodnight. The laughter and smiles were contagious. I walked into the dark night with more hope for the future than ever before. Could this land be the place I am called to set down roots after my time at Kripalu? Anything is possible…
May 20, 2012 · 9:02 pm
My travel partner and I took a much-needed break from driving and happened upon the Women’s Grove of Redwood National Park. I stood beneath an enormous tree as the sun went down, illuminating the forest of ferns like a stage set. Staring up in awe at this giant towering over 250 feet tall, I asked for a bit of wisdom to take with me for the rest of the journey.
“Oh, mighty old tree, how can I stand so tall and rooted like you?”
My eyes remained shut for a few minutes. When I opened them, my gaze fell upon a small leaf on the ground by my feet. An inchworm carefully lifted its head to feel out where to place its feet next. Moving slowly and cautiously, this tiny creature made its way closer and closer to the redwood in front of us. There we were, together, approaching the tree.
I had traveled thousands of miles by plane and car to ask the wise old tree my question. How far had this inchworm traveled? And was it there to ask the same question as me? That evening, the redwood tree taught us both that no matter your size, strength, or speed, we all have a purpose in the world.
May 13, 2012 · 9:47 pm
Happy Mother’s Day!
I love this time of year. We get a chance to start over, cleanse, make wishes, and plant seeds or intentions for the rest of the year. It is time to break out of our cocoon that kept us safe and warm all winter. It is time to mimic the leaves that burst forth reaching out and say yes to the light.
Today I am grateful to my Mother(s). Mother Earth, Grandmothers, Step Mothers, Adoptive Mothers, and Biological Mothers. They are the women who believe in us and love us unconditionally. I send my love to all the women and mothers who keep me rooted in the Earth.
As expected, I could not stay away from working with the land too long. Our first project for my “seva” or service at Kripalu was planting two fields of wild flowers. We broadcast seeded from buckets with our hands. The motion of spreading seeds felt ancient. The rhythm brought me to a deep mediation. Everyone agreed the action of planting seeds was exactly in line with the natural cycle. It is moments like these that cause me to step back and whisper, “This is exactly where I belong.”
I am only half and hour from Rawson Brook Farm so I visited last weekend. As I held a baby goat, I felt her heart beat thump against my belly. Her small body sunk into my arms. She modeled how to completely surrender and trust, something I remember doing with my Mother.
“You are not separate from your hopes and dreams, you are only separate from knowing that they are real and the only truth your soul knows. You can’t buy into fear and fully realize your highest potential, it only comes from Love and Service.”
May 3, 2012 · 9:09 pm
Another journey began 5 days after returning from the Pacific Coast. My thoughts during traveling are carrying over beautifully as I have just begun a four-month-long volunteer program at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, MA.
Amidst all the busy-ness
Take time to really look
Zoom into places you may not see
From the five or six feet you stand above the ground
Bend down low
Climb a tree
There is magic everywhere
If you take the time to sit still
Give up your control
Your path will become clearer
Imagine the possibilities if you let go of all the worries
And direct that energy toward loving your Self
March 19, 2012 · 4:39 pm
Spring is here in full force! Even though it was a mild winter, I am proud to say I made it through a full one and actually found much pleasure in slowing down. The transition from winter to spring has been so fast! My last blog post had photos of snow covered landscapes and this post is already in full bloom flower mode. Gotta love greenhouses.
The 70 degree days feel more like summer. My clothes are drying on the line outside, I went for a bike ride in a t-shirt, and now I’m lying in the sun with a bathing suit.
This is unlike any March I have ever experienced in the Northeast. No complaints here. I’ll save the worries of increased tick and mosquito pressure for another day. We have to enjoy the positive sides of global warming, right?
The bulb show at Smith College greenhouses is one of the best ways to welcome spring.
Outside my door the crocuses and snowdrops are flowering. The daffodils and hyacinth are not far behind.
Sadly, I will be leaving the Northeast spring beauty behind for a month to travel. Fortunately, it will be spring everywhere I go along the Pacific coast from Southern California all the way up to Seattle, Washington. I leave this week to be a bridesmaid in a childhood friend’s wedding.
As my journey unfolds, farming will not be my main focus this season. Growing and eating good food will always be a top priority in my life. But, I am entering a new phase that involves self care, spiritual awakening, and building solid human relationships based in love.
Of course integrating all of this with farming is something I look forward to doing in the future. Taking this next season off from working full time on a farm is exciting, but I know I will miss having such a close connection with food. You’ll see…I won’t be able to keep myself away from plants and animals too long. I already found myself bottle-feeding a baby goat last weekend at Rawson Brook Farm, then caring for my hens that I gave to some friends in Greenfield.
Farming is in my blood for good. Now, I will allow myself to explore other avenues.