Harvesting a Mindful Moment: Week #9, 8/5/20
Just like I followed the yoga wave that flowed off the west coast to the midwest mainstream in the early 2000s, I am joining the millions of Americans now trying to learn how to meditate.
I’ve been at it for over a year now. After reading Sam Harris’s Waking Up, I began his course available as an app on my phone. My goal is 10 minutes a day; reality is two times a week.
So far my greatest understanding is that to mediate is step back and try to focus your thoughts on the exact moment you are in. And when you notice you are lost in thoughts, to not push them away, but to notice them and slowly try to turn your attention back to the present moment.
For anyone who has tried this task, it can be crazy difficult. Especially because many of us, when starting to learn, have this concept that to meditate is to be free of thought. And we get frustrated. But as I’ve practiced more, I am understanding that it’s more about not getting lost in thought versus having no thoughts. It’s trying to bring your mind back in connection with your body – being in the present moment.
As a farmer and manager, I have a radio on my hip and it constantly goes off. Part of my job is to coordinate the movement of 14 plus crew members, keeping all of us moving efficiently towards harvest goals for our outlets. I answer lots of questions and develop many logistical plans. Moments of uninterrupted focus typically elude me on farm; they just aren’t part of my job description. Not to mention, I’m super social, so I don’t typically want to work alone.
But sometimes, when my mind feels extra busy, I eagerly scoop up an opportunity to work alone for a bit.
Today I chose to begin the day by harvesting beets solo. My mind was a little swirly after a busy weekend and with the stress that accompanies the beginning of each work week. I wanted to slow the swirling in my head.
Despite the option to work with some crew members, whose company I enjoy, beets were calling my name.
Harvesting bunched beets has four distinct stages: pulling, cleaning, bunching, and loading.
I started my day with a swirling head by pulling 162 beets. I walked the beds and looked for the tops bulging out of the soil that were just the right size and pulled them, laying them down into the lane. Methodically I worked from north to south down the bed. Like counting sheep, the process of focusing on counting began to center my mind.
Once I reached my number, however, I still felt swirly in my mind. So I called to mind some of the mediation lessons, and asked myself to try and focus solely on the next task; cleaning.
I turned my body back towards the north and went down the line of beets I’d pulled, quickly picking up each one and stripping off any dead or broken leaves. I challenged myself to just be right there on the task. Soon all my mind was doing was cleaning beets and letting the sounds of the wind, the nearby dog barking, the grasshoppers, and the neighbors’ roosters flow through.
Twenty-five blue rubbberbands for my first set now on my fingers, it was banding time. I was feeling there, in the moment, calm.
On about the 17th bunch, my radio called. As I finished banding and picking up the bunches to load them in crates and onto the harvest truck, my mind was off again – thinking about logistics and harvest shorts, email communications and vehicle transfers.
But for that 20 minutes, it was just me, the beets, the cool air on my cheek, and the pulse of other animals; sounds.
It was a little calm, a little mindfulness that brought me great joy today.
There are so many things I love about farming. I love all the people, the conversation, the business, the constant pivots, being at the mercy of the sky, the physical challenge, and the capacity to slow one’s mind down and open it to the now of the moment surrounding me.
Whether it’s in your work or your home life, here’s hoping you can find a little moment today where your mind can experience the peace of just being only in the moment you are in.
Cheers and enjoy your veggies!