yoga, a photographic demonstration

Here we are, before we begin practicing yoga.  There’s a lot of life here.  Lots of good stuff.  Plenty to learn, and room to grow.  But it’s kind of chaotic.  Unorganized.  Wild.beginning

So, we start doing some asana.  By “asana” I mean a series of physical exercises designed to stabilize and strengthen our bodies so that we can function on a higher level and fulfill our obligations without undue stress or pain.  We stabilize what is wobbly, strengthen what is weak, and stretch what is stiff.playing mule

Those exercises can by nature be a bit strenuous.

scything oatsscything oats 3

asanaBut in the end, we have this.  We are clean.  The question is – what now?clean and green

Something is bound to happen.  Will we return to chaos?  That would be easy.weeds long

Having lived long enough to know that we do not have control over everything that happens in life, we can now consider how to most effectively participate in the co-creation of our world.  If we cannot MAKE something happen, we can at least shape our response to life’s flow.  A good way to engage in this process is through pranayama (breathing exercises).  This work incorporates the bodily strength and flexibility gained in asana (physical exercises) and applies the power of the breath to our internal energetic system.  Breath is powerful stuff.  How we breathe can change how we sleep, how we wake, how we think, and how we feel, to name just a few.  It’s a long term project.  We might feel different after a singular practice, but we will feel VERY different after months, or years, of practice.

garlic planted

participationbeautiful

Pranayama leads naturally toward meditation and prayer.  It’s like a yellow brick road, or Hansel’s stones glittering in the moonlight.  The beautiful silent work of meditation, the powerful connectivity of prayer, are amplified by the practice of asana (to make our bodies comfortable) and pranayama (to turn down the static of our mental/emotional states).  Whatever our faith, our path to connect with that which cannot be seen, the deep attentive self-control and focus gained through this integrated yoga practice takes us deeper along the way.strawberry flower

monarch 1susanas9three peeksIt’s a work with no end in sight.  No kidding.  But it’s a good work, and the rewards are abundant beyond measure.robesoncukes and tomatoesglass gem grouptime 5

spring cleaning

old gardenComing up on 12 years ago, we mudded in our first garden in this hollow. To our surprise, it grew well. With a little help from our friends, we had some fresh food all winter and were ready to keep growing when Spring came. Year after year, our garden grew. We grew for ourselves, for our friends and family, and then for “our people”, the share-holders in our small CSA, starting with just about ten folks. The CSA grew to forty families at its peak, then we backed off. And backed off some more. Last year, we were back to just about ten families, right here in our home county.

But this year, we are letting go.

It is not easy to let go.pretty garden

I am one of those people who wants to do everything.

I want to be involved with my children’s education, here at home. I want to grow all our food and cook great meals from scratch. I want to be a good partner to my Fellow Man, a helpful daughter, a supportive sister, a loving friend, an involved member of my community. I want to pitch in twenty bucks to protect elephants, wolves, and endangered soil micro-fauna. I want to drive people to the polls. I want to say YES to every request to teach yoga in the surrounding communities. I want to knit a sweater and crochet baby blankets. I want to stir BD preps. I want to sing in the church choir, and some rock n roll songs too. I want to share and write out what is meaningful, enjoyable, and true for whoever wants to read it. I want to live and love and enjoy this excellent opportunity at LIFE.

And, this year, we are on the brink of some big changes. We intend to build a new home on our new land and get moved. In order for that big piece of work to happen, we (I) have to let some things go, and our little CSA is one of them.

We will still grow our own food, and probably too much of it. Old habits die hard. Anyone who comes to help me weed or hoe or harvest will be sent home with plenty. But we won’t be selling baskets. My heart breaks a little bit at this reality, but like so many heartbreaks, there’s an opportunity underneath it.splash

As Spring unfurls its green fronds, this is my exploration – how to move forward in a new way. How to keep what is truly necessary and good, let go of what may also be wonderful but not so necessary right now, making room for what is on the horizon. It is not easy, but it is good work for the inside of my head and heart.  It is work best done with a pack of seeds in my pocket (just not too BIG a packet) and a hoe in my hands.

However Spring comes in your neck of the woods – I hope you have good work, too.first daffodil

horizontal and vertical

basilIt’s the smell of basil that does it to me. I feel grounded. My thoughts come in for landing. At the same time, I am uplifted. My spirit is full of light. I guess, overall, picking basil balances me. And that is how the various streams of thought that have been bouncing in my head all week finally coalesce. It’s the basil.

In the garden, the visual field of work is horizontal. Plants grow out of the earth, into the air. Ourselves and our various livestock walk on the earth with our heads in the air, more or less. We share the effects of gravity, the quality of the atmosphere. We share a horizontal plane.

But in truth, we are being influenced and are making waves in the vertical plane as well. The life beneath the soil has everything to do with what happens above it, as does the atmosphere above us, and beyond.bee flower

It is easier, simpler, to work horizontally and not think too much about the vertical plane. Don’t worry about the soil as long as the plants grow. Just slap down some NPK and carry on. Don’t think about CO2 emissions or the phase of the moon, just drive that tractor!

In the practice of Biodynamic agriculture, we are called upon to expand our thinking, and our work, in every direction. The life beneath the soil is of utmost importance, and we cannot see it. We have to rely on the evidence we find growing out of it to learn about it, and do what we can from up here to make a positive impact below. Likewise, we stretch our understanding upward, into the cosmos, and try to perceive that the soil, the plants, and all life, is influenced by the near and outer reaches of space. We even do things to try to help that relationship be healthy and strong. We cannot see it, but maybe, with time, we begin to feel something about it that we didn’t feel before.

I began thinking of this after attending church last Sunday. The visiting pastor spoke about a three fold way of forgiveness. It was a new one for me. He explained that as we come to understand, ask, and receive the forgiveness of a higher power, we grow in our ability to forgive others. This is laid out in the Lord’s Prayer when we say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The unspoken third link is that by engaging in that relationship of forgiveness and forgiving, we become able to forgive ourselves, as well. It’s a very important third link, in my opinion, often overlooked, to the detriment of our well-being.

And it seems to translate into other realms of relationship, as well.

My parents are of the Baby Boomer generation. They had some rather severe differences with their parents, my grandparents, in both lifestyle and ideology. But, from what I witnessed growing up, they still respected their parents. By respecting their parents, they were able to respect themselves, and in turn became respectable people. And I respect them all the more for having watched it all go down.

I don’t know, but I suspect that when we lose respect for others, especially those older than ourselves, it becomes harder to develop a sense of self-respect, which in turn makes it more difficult to treat those younger than ourselves with respect. But how else will they learn? Surely, it’s up to us, each one to become a respectable person.

Verticality isn’t easy. Look to see whether you are sitting up straight right now. Your spine and all the internal organs around it work best when it is lined up, balanced, vertically. But many of us have a tendency to slump into the horizontal plane. When we sit back up, there is an instant of relief, a feeling of rightness, a deeper breath. That instant is followed by some tension, because we have made a habit of the horizontal slump. The habit has invaded the musculature of our backs, so it becomes more difficult to do what we were made to do.tree light

But it’s worth it to do it anyway. We can establish a new habit of sitting tall, and our musculature will adapt, and we will be stronger and breathe more freely. Likewise, if we practice making friendly and respectful relationships with people of all ages (and colors and creeds), our community will be healthier, stronger, and more enjoyable as we begin to appreciate all those people who share our world. If we accept and practice forgiveness, with others, with a higher power, with ourselves, our hearts will be lighter. If we grow our food in relationship to the soil and the air and the whole universe, seen and unseen, our world will be fit for life in abundance, in balance, in beauty.

There’s plenty to be said about the effects of letting ourselves slide into existence on a purely horizontal plane.  I don’t really want to say all that.  It’s easy enough to see, everywhere.  It seems more important to affirm that verticality is worth the effort.

At least, that’s how it seems when I am picking the basil.sunset cloud 2

I would like to give credit to some of my thinking today to the following:

Robert Bly’s book The Sibling Society.

Rudolf Steiner’s work in creating Biodynamic Agriculture.

And Pastor Jason Roe for his effective sermon.