Focusing on the Flames

Lately I have felt sleepy. Sort of foggy-headed. Unmotivated and uninspired.

Finally, this morning, not wanting to get sucked into thoughts about- “Something’s wrong”, “Gotta DO something to fix this”, I headed to the cottage. Without an agenda.

Just to breathe. And let things settle. Hoping for some clarity.

Without fail, after sitting in that simple, natural space, I felt the fog lift.

What is it about this place that makes the airways open and the mind clear?

This time, I found myself staring at the fire in the woodstove.

Skipping my recently stale sitting practice, I simply watched the fire.

Drawn in… by the flickering, dancing flames wrapping delicately under and around the shrinking hardwood… blue sparks opening into white, orange, and yellow-tipped flames.

Surges of liquid heat. Bursting forth, then receding. Constant movement and color.

Ahhh…. Mesmerizing. Calming.       And surprisingly energizing.

After 20 minutes of focused attention on that little fire, I felt quite refreshed!

Hmmmmmm. How interesting.  This made me curious.

How could 20 minutes of uninterrupted fire-watching bring more clarity and physical energy than 4 hours yesterday dabbling in garden planning, Facebook correspondence, and list-making?


I think the difference is not in the tasks so much as  focusing vs dabbling.

Christine Kane, in her newest blog, identifies the problem as “ATTENTION SPLATTER”.  She describes the feeling after working at home all day, visiting the fridge dozens of time just snacking.


“What happens in this scenario is that you eat all day, but you never feel satisfied. By 5pm, you’re strung out, unfulfilled, and you wonder why.

Here’s why:

You ate. But you never actually fed yourself.

We do this exact same thing with our FOCUS. We dabble in random things. But we never really commit to anything.

I call it Attention Splatter.  It’s when you mindlessly and half-heartedly splatter your attention and focus on non-activities. But you never fully engage.

Remember this: Your attention ultimately feeds you. It feeds your heart and your mind. This is why it’s so important to notice what you give your attention to. This is also why splattered attention leaves you unfulfilled. You never actually feed yourself.”


That’s it! The reason I have felt so low-energy and undirected lately is because I’ve been sprinkling my attention all over- in every room in the house, every project on the farm- without truly committing full presence to anything.

Ah-hah! I see it. I’m all over the map.

This winter, we’ve initiated dozens of projects around the farm; starting a barn, planning a high tunnel garden, moving the animals around, strategic planning, fixing this, changing that. Plus, the cold weather keeps me inside closer to the computer and its seductive Facebook chatter about multiple, interesting topics. And, in my spare time, I’m perusing four different  books:  Buddha’s Brain; Care and Feeding of Goats; Women Food and God and a new novel.

Yes, I’m dabbling. Not focusing my attention.  I’m simply leaking my presence all over the place.

But, in contrast, this morning by that cottage fire, I was engaged. Drawn in. Completely focused on what was in front of me.

My mind quieted and body refueled from that simple act of concentration.

So, I think I will commit to some concentration practices for awhile – first in my daily meditation sit and then in my daily activities.

Staying with one thing at a time is like turning the garden hose setting from “shower” to “jet”.

Concentrated focus is cleansing. It’s powerful…

And it saves energy!


We are all spinning with shock and sadness , anger and confusion after the senseless shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut today.

This is the poem I reach for in times of tragedy. When my mind goes numb and my heart is breaking.

my Jenny, the animal whisperer

I share it as an offering.

Anger, blame and righteousness can be the first responses of a frightened mind.

But the heart?   It’s natural response is kindness.

The very bravest response is kindness.


KINDNESS                    Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

– from The Words Under the Words



Enjoying the Show

I just returned from a seven-day silent meditation retreat. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend some intimate time with my heart, my body and, yes, my MIND :-)

But I must say… spending 7 days “alone” with my mind, undistracted, felt a lot like going on a theater cruise. 

Oh, the shows! … at all hours of the day! Some were deeply dramatic. Some were high adventure. And some were purely comedic!

I think the trick to enjoying the “show” is ATTITUDE. The mind, usually operating below our conscious awareness, will reveal itself in the spotlight if approached with a friendly, curious attitude.

And when the body is relaxed and the mind quiet,  I discovered it is actually possible to sit back and enjoy the ticker-tape parade of thoughts that float through the mind… without getting caught up and carried away in the storyline.

So…. one morning at breakfast, halfway through my retreat, I experienced this more directly than I ever have . It was really fascinating!

Senses fully awake and the body-mind geared up to do it’s “automatic pilot” feeding routine… I decided to get real interested in observing my “wanting mind” at work.   I slowed way down and became the “audience” with a front row seat.

Mealtime is a great time to watch “the show” because body and mind are alert and engaged.

Settling down in the quiet dining room with my plate of hot scrambled eggs, spicy rice, sliced chilled vegetables, and cup of steaming green tea… I paused.  Simply paused. and noticed.

As the aromas wafted up toward the nose, my brain kicked in. Messages began firing to the hand to “pick up the fork.” And I noticed the immediate impulse of the hand to move toward the plate. I noticed… but I did not react.

“Take a bite”, the brain directed a little more urgently. Breathing in, breathing out… I closed my eyes, lowered my head and took a big whiff of the smells of breakfast.  Imagine that. I rarely ever take the time to smell my food. WOW!  All senses were jumping up and down cheering “this is wonderful!” Even my taste buds were happy. Smells can be amazingly “nourishing” :-)

But… it wasn’t long (maybe a second, maybe less) until the mind kicked up a gear. In double time it shouted directives to the arm and hand (and millions of other muscles, nerves and tendons I don’t even know about) to DO SOMETHING!   Hmmmmm, I smiled, … so this is what “wanting mind” sounds like :-)

“Okay”,  I decided, “Let’s take a bite”.  “But… I’m going to be aware, not unconscious. I don’t want to miss a thing.”   Slowly and mindfully, I observed a fork full of bright yellow eggs rise, wobble and touch my lips. Slowly and mindfully, I was able to taste that very first encounter between taste buds and food… and the second and the third.  So many opportunities for enjoyment when one STAYS with the tasting, the chewing, and the swallowing.

Now here is where it got really interesting. While I was enjoying, really enjoying, the food that was still in my mouth, I noticed quiet thoughts percolating about the next bite. The mind was actually directing the hand to scoop up another load of food- while the first fork load was still in my mouth!       Thankfully, I was so relaxed and quiet that I could just smile and notice the dialogue-  without acting on it.

Fully absorbed with the exercise, I must have remained in the breakfast room for hours.

Each time the mind tried to convince the body to do something- I just asked myself “What do I need right now?”  This was not about deprivation. I was perfectly willing to respond to whatever the body said it needed. But, I truly wanted to know the truth- “what do I need right now?”

To hear the answer, I scanned my awareness through the body… asking gently, “does any place need anything?”… kind of like your grandmother might ask you- sincere, loving and practical.   Simply checking in with the belly, the taste buds, the body temperature, chair comfort, etc…  inquiring, “Is anything needed, really needed, here, now?

…and, to my surprise,  99.9% of the time, the answer was “NO. not really. Actually, I am content. Wow. I am fully content.” :-)

So, there I sat… enjoying the feeling of contentment for long stretches of time.  Responding when the body had a need. But most of the time just aware that I was satisfied…  as the constant chatter of a busy, wanting mind played in the background- like white noise.

Once I was no longer possessed by “doing something” about my urges, I really got curious about this “show” unfolding within me.  And it became comical!    Like  I could “see” the puppeteer up there in the loft directing my body to do all sorts of things without my consciousness aware of it. Very sneaky.

I laughed while “listening” to the whispers back stage- “Okay, take another sip, quick.” or “Eat more. You might be hungry later“- ha!  Usually the body tried to cooperate- muscles contracted, the hand began to reach.  But when I just watched… the body relaxed.

Once, when someone got up beside me to leave, my brain exploded with concern-  “Are we supposed to be somewhere? Better get up and find out!” Adrenaline shot through my body, heart rate increased, throat clenched (fear).  And all the while… I didn’t move. I didn’t “Do” anything. In the pause I was able to remember calmly that a retreat bell will ring anytime we need to be somewhere. That I am just fine. I’ll hear the bell when it is time to go.   Ahhhh… heart rate slowed. Body re-relaxed.

Asking again,  “Do I need anything right now?”  Breathing in… slight smile. Breathing out… “No. actually I don’t. All is well. Thanks for asking.”

Eventually, in times like this when the body is at ease and we bring a friendly, interested attitude toward our experience… the conditions are ripe for insight. And that is what happened for me.

I began to wonder, “How many moments of my life am I unconsciously reacting to fears about creature comforts? … the fear that for 10 minutes of my meditation sit I might actually feel a little uncomfortable with sensations of hunger or body tightness or having to go to the bathroom? …the fear that if I don’t finish my plate now I might be hungry later? … the fear that if I don’t constantly carry around a bottle of water I might get thirsty (as if that is a crisis)?

How many moments of my Life do I spend in preparation for the future instead of actually experiencing what is real- this precious moment right before me?

Moments like this,  full of delicious smells, a satisfied belly, nourishing tastes.  How many do I miss… because I relinquish the “strings” to my worried, survival-mode mind?

Oh, bless it’s heart- the mind can’t help itself. The Limbic system (primitive brain) is hard-wired to scan the horizon for threats and look out for our creature comforts. It reacts instantly to any perceived need. It is designed that way.

But, when we PAUSE, we give the brain time to send the request up further… to the frontal lobe (rational brain)- a place of reason and wisdom. Most often than not, that clear-headed place recognizes there is not really a great need or grave threat. And then the whole body is allowed to relax out of the fight/flight mode.

I’m not mad at my Wanting Mind.  Poor thing, it is working so hard to take care of me. But I no longer plan to allow it to call all the shots. I’m missing too much when I do.

I realize these “behind the scenes” mind-body conversations have been taking place all my life, without me knowing it. It wasn’t until I found meditation that I learned to lift the curtain and discover the powerful spotlight of Awareness.

This being human is fascinating.  May we all sit back and enjoy the show!


“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor Frankl


TRY THIS:     Awareness of how the Wanting Mind communicates with the body can offer more freedom in our lives, don’t you think?   How many things do you do because of this silent, impulsive mind-body dance?  S0, just asking, “What do I need right now?”, can put you back in control of your actions.  I know that for me it will take lots of practice… and patience.  There is just so much to Unlearn.

But even in a week, it is amazing how many things I DON’T DO on automatic-pilot now , like:

~Push SEND on a Facebook comment or an email;  ~Pour a glass of wine as the sun goes down; ~Buy items on the grocery store endcap displays; ~Grab a snack when I pass the pantry door; ~ Interrupt when someone else is speaking…

I invite you to:

Sit with a plate of food or cup of tea. Breathe deeply, relax your shoulders. Connect with the intention to be friendly with your experience.   Then take 30 seconds to notice everything going on in your body. Mouth watering, muscles contracting, stomach grumbling, tension, excitement, etc… Do you notice urges playing out physically in your body… or thoughts of “I need some of those.  I’m hungry, etc..”?

Take a bite or sip.  Then relax and watch again… what is going on in the body? what is the mind saying?  Watch the show but don’t react.

And regularly, gently, without judgement, simply inquire: “What do I need right now?”  Then notice what is true.





Letting the Mud Settle

It rained the other day, so I couldn’t resist pulling on my boots and whistling the dogs down to the river to check out the fall colors. Everything was drippy and beautiful. One must, in that situation, simply squat down and take it all in.

At my feet, the shallow water was brown and stirred-up from the downpour. Mud soup.

I closed my eyes and inhaled the clean air. Deep in my lungs I think it washed me out too.


When I opened my eyes, I noticed a little more was visible in the river puddle. I could make out the fuzzy outline of leaves and a layer of blurred stones below them.

Eyes closed again, opening my senses, I could hear the call of Kingfishers swooping for fish and bugs. Further away the call and response of crows. The longer I squatted with eyes closed, the more I could detect- even the lone cry of a hawk acres away.

Looking down once more, aha!, the puddle had cleared. There at the bottom in high resolution were crimson, chocolate, and oker-colored leaves draped over glistening shale.

A whole new world was revealed beneath the glassy, clear surface. Little fish darting. Detritus dwellers. Even tiny abandoned snail shells.

I had to smile. Once again I had experienced the gift of stillness- CLARITY.

I keep a reminder of this on my desk  (and I give one to each of my meditation students)- a canning jar full of muddy river water.

The jar represents the Mind.

When we shake it up, it gets cloudy. Worried thoughts, fear, anxiety, striving, judgement, greed, busy-ness… are just a few of the ways we stir up our mind.

It is amazing how much of our day is spent trying to make wise decisions with unclear vision.

And….. what happens when we let the jar of agitated water sit for awhile? 

Just like the river puddle, all on its own… when we pause, connect with our senses, and wait…  the mud settles. Have you experienced this? You might be wrestling with a question or facing a difficult conversation or trying to come up with a creative idea. The more you splash around thinking and worrying… the more agitated the mind and the further you get from clarity.

But if, instead, you take a walk in nature, sit and observe the breath, stretch the body  (all activities that bring us back to the present), voila! a light goes off and you see things clearly. And when you see clearly, you can respond wisely, instead of reacting from the “stirred-up place”.

There is a Zen saying, “Who can sit til the mud settles?”

Meditation ( paying attention in a particular way:  on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally)  allows our Mind to return to its natural state.

We do not have to add or fix anything… we simply rest, observe the breathe and let the mind settle on its own.  The gift of Pausing is a kind of  “homecoming”.

The mind, in its natural state, is always calm, clear, and undisturbed.  And, like the puddle or jar of river water… there are treasures waiting when the mud settles.

So, slow down and take a look for yourself.  Wisdom, clear-seeing, and insight lay just under the surface of a busy mind.







Looking Out a Different Window

This morning in the cottage while my tea was cooling, I  returned to the front door for my slippers. Usually I don’t spend long in this spot- treating it as a transition step- removing boots, hanging up my coat, then heading into the big room.

But this time, when I turned to return, something out the little window caught my eye. I climbed up on the tiny bench to take a closer look.

I don’t know what got my attention, perhaps the grasses waving at me or the bees buzzing my name.

I do know that curled up, gazing out that little west window, it felt as if someone had just changed the channel. What an entirely different view this was than from big windows in the other room just 20 feet away.  Narrow and angled it offered a unique perspective on a familiar scene.

So, there, in the lap of a slow Sacred Pause I scooted up real close to the world-  watching drips dance down the rain chain…. studying insect-nibbled patterns on potato vine leaves. The window box overflowing with greens, pinks and browns sported a full palette of fall colors on a single plant. Even closer, in the foreground, a spider was busy weaving her tapestry between screen and window pane.

Further out, the heads of Miscanthus grasses bowed and bobbed on long, slender necks.

And in the very background, trees dropped their leaves , gently … like a flower girl drops rose petals down the aisle ; one here, another there. Setting the tempo for the procession.

LIFE…  so much life, just outside that window!

Finches, Blue Jays, Goldfinches leaping from limb to limb unable to sit still… Crows scanning the ground methodically for snacks …movement.. everywhere, continuously.

All of this… that, not long ago, was completely under my radar.

I must have sat there 20 minutes.

The longer I looked, the more I saw.

Finally, when I pulled the lens in real tight… there on the plaster wall right before me were sweeping patterns of straw flecks , just 12” from my face. Different lengths, shapes, hues… morning light hitting some until they shone like spun gold. Tiny trowel tracks and indentations from loving hand-plastering and amazing contrasts in texture and light everywhere.

Wow- how can there be so much to enjoy in so little a space?!

I’m sure there is no museum in the world that could have held my attention as much as that visit to my cottage window.


Sometimes my imagination and I play a game. I’ve been doing this as long as I can remember. It began as a kid laying alone in bed scanning around my room. Now I recall it at times like this… when I am waiting for something or have been staring a while.

I ask myself, “If I was suddenly unable to move again- an instant paraplegic or a prisoner suddenly confined to a tiny cell- could I stare at this view, this one right before me, for days or weeks or maybe even years?  Could I be content with just this window on the world… for the rest of my life?”

I love this game. It forces me to really look. Really appreciate. Challenges me to notice everything… everything I think I see and everything that I don’t yet notice.

The answer is always yes.  If I had to, I could find enough in this little slice of view to keep me interested.

Because what I discover is that nothing stays the same.  The same patch of wall changes color and shape as the light changes. Seasons paint new colors out the window. Insects visit and leave their gifts.

And the more the mind rests, the more the sense doors open to deliver new smells, sensations, sounds …  every moment.

That is what I found when I paid a visit to another window in my cottage…  with “Beginner’s Mind”.

There are treasures waiting when we show up with new eyes.      Sometimes it just takes slowing down and looking at the familiar through a different window.


In Zen Buddhism, “Beginner’s Mind” refers to “having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.” (Wikipedia)


I invite you to cultivate Beginner’s Mind :

~Sit someplace in your house you’ve never sat… maybe outside looking up at the roofline,  on the kitchen floor, a windowsill, or the middle step.

~What does your favorite tree look like from underneath staring up into the canopy?

~Take a ride as a passenger in the backseat.

~Try a familiar task using your non-dominant hand.

Any way you can- savor the view             …look out another window !



Waking Up On The Right Side of the Bed …

Just take a moment to meditate, where you are. And as you breathe in and out, notice if there are any attack weapons or defensive strategies hidden in your inner bunker … and then gently disarm them with your breath.

Yes, in just a moment you can defuse yourself … and make the world a safer place. Think of it as a preemptive strike for peace.”  - Martin Boroson.


Ahhh… Mindfulness, as a “preemptive strike for peace“.  I love that.

I know how the mind works. It wakes up like a soldier, grabs its armor, and scans the horizon for threats. It just can’t help it. It is the nature of the mind to be on the defensive… part of our ancestral inheritance… habits of our older animal brain (limbic system) that was once responsible for keeping our species from being eaten. Thank you, dear brain, but I no longer need to be on the lookout for wooly mammoths. And I no longer want to start the day driven by the undercurrent of anxiety you create- thoughts of what I need to DO, what I might be late for, what might be wrong.

So, I have found there is a better way. A way to greet the day with mindfulness and “make the world a safer place”.

I have a new morning ritual. Before my feet hit the floor…  I disarm myself.

When I open my eyes and look at the  clock, just as the mind is getting locked and loaded to charge into the day,  I pledge to stay in bed another 5 minutes. And for those 5 minutes, laying there, I survey what I am thankful for. I stay under the covers a while with GRATITUDE.

Head on pillow, still half asleep, I ask inwardly, “So, what am I grateful for?”.

Close-in things come up first- warm covers; soft sheets; a body that works; the rhythmic breathing of my best friend beside me. Then gratitude ripples out to include my surroundings- the ancient, green river over the hill; morning light through fall leaves; this farm and all the precious critters waking up with me outside my window.

I go slowly. Lingering on each item until I can feel the sincerity of it, the weight of it. Sometimes I don’t get past the very concrete… this body. these limbs. This breath… and this one.

Other times it all rushes in: my kids; my whole family; the gift of being Alive; Presence itself ; this whole frickin’ world!

All I know is that when I am touching into what I appreciate, there is no real estate left in the mind for worry, fear or judgement.

And even though it is for only for 5 minutes, it is the FIRST 5 minutes of the day… and that changes everything.

Gratitude slows it all down. Keeps the focus on the here and now. Calms the conditioned mind before it takes off blindly into the morning.

These few extra minutes… under the covers with warm thoughts of what I love … seem to put the heart in charge.  And when my feet do finally slide into the slippers, the ground feels firmer… and I think I am more inclined to Receive instead of conquer my day.

Try it!  Spend a few minutes with gratitude before you get out of bed and see how it shifts the energy of your morning.    ”Think of it as a preemptive strike for peace”.



 ….“Gratitude is an amazing antidote to almost any negative feeling. Cognitively, we can’t actually feel anger and gratitude at the same time. The minute we are angry with someone is the minute we have momentarily tuned-out how grateful we are for having them in our life in the first place. And as soon as we turn back to gratitude, the anger disappears. It’s amazing! Try it out sometime and you’ll see that smiling is inevitable. ”





Fharma- Setting the compass

I’ve been thinking a lot about Intention lately.

How powerful it is.

And how often I can live my days on automatic pilot- the opposite of intentional.

This week, in the new Mindfulness class I am teaching in the cottage, I shared my favorite Zen saying:

The most important thing is to remember the most important thing”.

We explored this week how our Intention is the cornerstone of our meditation practice. Beginning each meditation by quieting the mind and internally asking, “What matters most?  What really matters to me?”,  sets the heart’s compass and allows everything to unfold naturally from there.

During this exercise, we realized we can go days, even weeks without checking in with our heart’s intention.

One young woman confided, “When I asked myself that question and didn’t hear an answer, I panicked a little.  What if I don’t know what matters most?”

Bless her heart. I know that feeling.

Yes, we can get so lost in the static of our busy-ness that we forget what our own voice sounds like. But, in my experience, the more we practice quieting the mind and relaxing the body, the clearer our own voice becomes. It’s as if meditation helps us tune to a different channel- off of the static-filled “talk radio” of the busy, outside world and on to the clear, calm music of our inner wisdom.

And, when this happens, the answer is always there.  Always.

I promised her that by the end of our 6-week class, she’ll hear what matters most.


Intention, to me, is very different than goal-setting.

Reaching goals is often a linear process- getting from point A to point B. And usually has a time frame to it – a deadline. It is mostly about “doing” not being. And has the flavor of “fixing” something- fixing me, fixing you, fixing the situation.  Goals are helpful and necessary. But they are not foundational like Intention.

Intention, on the other hand, is about settling back into our center point. Instead of trying to get somewhere else, we are returning … to the starting point. When we ask ourselves some version of the question “what matters most to me- right now, today, in my life?”- it is as if we are being called back home after being lost in the woods.

Sometimes, only when we stop our frantic, noisy, forward motion- and actually stand still and listen- can we hear that voice calling us back. Home.

So, for me and many others, the path toward real happiness began when I finally stopped moving, turned my attention inward, asked and listened.   What began as simply the first step of my meditation practice, turned into the cornerstone of an intentional life.

Many people ask Tim and me how we knew we wanted to farm. The answer is “oh, we didn’t!”

Even 5 years ago, if you had said I’d be breeding sheep, collecting eggs and driving a tractor, I probably would have laughed.

But about 7 years ago, tired and a little lost, we did begin to ask ourselves questions. Big ones. “What does happiness feel like for me? For you? What matters most? And, am I willing to create a life that nurtures what matters most… even if it means letting go of what is familiar?”

To be honest, it was a little scary. We didn’t know what answers we would hear. And what if we heard different answers? But we trusted the process. We knew what we found would be the truth, and we were each dedicated to living this “next chapter” from the truth of what matters ( I mean, what’s the alternative?! We certainly knew what that felt like.)


The beauty of asking questions about Intention is that the answers come from within. They are individual. Non-controversial. Clear. Certain. And, at the same time, amazingly universal.

For us, words like: health, happiness, peace, connection, family, creativity and freedom came up for us in different forms.

And over the next few years, we let our intentions lead us into our version of “the good life”. It was almost as if those answers formed the “footers” and we built this farm life up from there. Never really knowing what the whole structure of our life will look like from year to year, we try to take time every season to check in and make sure that what we are doing is still tied into “what matters most”.

I gotta say, it still blows me away when I look out my window at animals grazing in the sun and chickens roosting in the trees. My heart swells with gratitude for this life- one I couldn’t have fabricated by just “thinking” it up.  This crazy, wonderful farm life is rooted deep in my intention to be happy, and free and peaceful. And it is a creative work in progress, for sure.

Yet, even with all this beauty and healthy living, I still lose my way. I get busy. I forget. I get obsessed (oh yes, I do have an obsessive mind. Bless it’s spinning-hamster-wheel self !)

So I need my meditation practice to re-set my inner compass. Daily.

I invite you to try it.

Take a break each day to Pause, Breathe deeply, and Ask the heart “so… what do I really care about? What matters most… in this moment, in my life?”  Repeat it slowly if necessary until you can feel your own sincerity.     And then listen for the answer.

And let the answer guide you through the day… informing your actions, enriching your relationships, inspiring your goal-setting.


May you be happy.

May you be healthy.

May your life be guided by your own true north.



“ The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”                     - Michael Altshuler


Fharma- I am too busy NOT to meditate!

It’s Tuesday and I’m just getting around to my “weekend” Mindfulness Reminder…
                  Well, I guess that is proof that I have more on my plate recently than I have time.
Often when I get busy and tasks have urgent deadlines, I am tempted to skip my morning meditation.
After all, meditating is not URGENT.  It doesn’t have a ringer like the phone to make me answer it.
It doesn’t show up at my door ready to be paid.
My meditation practice doesn’t scream or honk or bark.
It just waits for me to remember it.
It is always there as a “soft place to land”   and I am learning that…
                           it is during the busy times that I need it the most.
Oh, how simple it is to : Pause, take a few deep breaths, and collect the attention in the body.
And how radical.
In the middle of all the forward-motion-energy, we actually can Stop. And when we find the breath,  relax shoulders/jaw/hands a bit, we often feel sweet gratitude rise up within.
When we remember to notice what is actually here before us,
    most often our heart’s response is to  soften
        because we become aware of how full this moment… this precious moment… really is.
And we realize we almost missed it.
So the heart feels grateful- both for this delicious moment and for the meditation practice that helped us remember it.
I am happy to say that this week I did meditate a little every morning. Cup of tea in hand… I just walked to the big white chair, lit a candle and sat.
I watched the to-do list thoughts in my mind. I felt the  ”get up and get started!” energy move through me.
And I sat.
And when the time was over, I picked up that busy-day list and tackled it… a little less reactively, with a little more joy.

Don't miss the fruits of the moment!

I invite you to Pause and meditate (even if for 5 minutes)
especially when you are busy.  especially when you feel stressed.
The practice is here for us.
                      always here for us.
Let it hold you and calm you when you need it the most.
This week:
May you remember to Pause
       May you remember to Breathe
             May you remember to savor the moment
                   In the busiest of times.
Here is a short, sweet blog by Jon Katz (of Bedlam Farm)
      about his experience pausing in the middle of a hectic day.   very sweet.  enjoy. Making Time For Stillness

Fharma- Be like the trees…..

Dear Mindful Friends,

I hope you got some earth-quenching rain where you are.
As I stepped outside a moment ago, I actually felt the temperature drop by the minute… as if summer had just passed the baton to fall.
Don’t know about you, but I am ready for fall… ready to leave summer behind with all her glorious but exhausting abundance and activity.
 (maybe that’s just the farmer in me talking)
And, since we are animals after all, I think it is a natural response to changing seasons- to be ready for leaves to fall and days to quiet down a bit.
As the days get shorter, there seems to be a subtle turning inward…
     calling us to pull our energies in a little closer to our center of gravity.
I just love noticing this internal shift.
Can you feel it?
Because of this,  fall and winter are perfect seasons to deepen your mindfulness practice.
Take advantage of this natural physical and psychological “season” by Recommitting to a Regular Sitting Practice
But, instead of making meditation another “to-do” on your list… see if you can approach it more like the trees do in autumn.
Try simply letting go of a little of the doing…
            relaxing a bit more each time you pause…
                            releasing what you are holding in the shoulders and the brow.
I’m not talking about a lot of efforting. Not a lot of striving.
Simply make it your intention to let go a little more each time you sit. That’s all.
This fall, see if you can gently lighten your load inside and out.
Be a tree.
      Let it go.
Here is a short, inspiring animated video about mindfulness and how to let go of striving.

Headspace video 
Good News for my Local Friends:
                           2 Ways to Support your Mindfulness Practice this fall…

This week, on September 12, we’ll reconvene our Weekly Meditation Sitting Circle
      Every Wednesday 7-8:30 anyone  is welcome to join us for guided meditation, shared silence and conversation about nurturing mindfulness in our lives.
      We’ll meet in Querencia Cottage here at the farm.
      If you want to let me know you are coming, terrific. Drop-ins are welcome too.
      We’ll have chairs or bring your own cushion or bench.
      This is an ongoing group.  Please check the website homepage for cancellations, directions and more info.
Tuesday September 18, we’ll begin another 6-week Mindfulness Meditation Class
       Tuesdays Sept. 18- Oct. 23 participants will meet each week to build and deepen their mindfulness practice.
       Lessons, guided meditations, “homework” to practice in the real world :-) , and opportunity for questions and discussion.
       This is a great opportunity to learn more about Vipassana meditation (insight/mindfulness meditation) and experience more peace and happiness.
       We have ONE MORE SPOT… let me know if you are interested!
To learn more about Mindfulness check out the  Art and Spirit page on our website

Fharma: The Sustenance of Silence



…discovering the dharma through life on a farm

It is Sunday. and rainy.
the beginning of September.
There is silence.  everywhere.
even in the white noise of rain on the metal roof, there is silence.
Feels like space.  feels like emptiness.
Feels sweet. and sad.
Tastes like a long, cool drink after a hot run.
I don’t think enough can be said about the importance of silence in our lives.
Just as music lies not only in the notes but also in the rests … so it is with a mindful life.
Where is the silence in your day?
Can you cultivate moments to stop and let the mind rest and the senses recharge?
Can you create a ritual for sitting or walking or eating in silence…
         opening yourself to RECEIVING after all the hours you spend on production?
May this reflection on silence by Barbara Hurd inspire you…

“Those who are fond of retreats—writers, ecstatics, parents with young children—often comment on the silence such time away allows. 

Silence becomes something present, almost palpable. The task shifts from keeping the world at a safe decible distance to letting more of the world in. 

Thomas Aquinas said that beauty arrests motion. He meant, I think, that in the presence of something gorgeous or sublime, we stop our nervous natterings, our foot twitchings and restless tongues. Whatever that fretful hunger is, it seems momentarily filled in the presence of beauty. 

To Aquinas’s wisdom I’d add that silence arrests flight, that in its refuge, the need to flee the chaos of noise diminishes. 

We let the world creep closer, we drop to our knees, as if to let the heart, like a small animal, get its legs on the ground.”

—From Stirring the Mud by Barbara Hurd. ▼

Labyrinth at Querencia Cottage


May you enjoy the gifts of silence this week.

Drink them in.
Fill yourself up.
Let the world creep closer.
~   Beth