Hot dogs and Quinoa: Even the best-laid Plants to deter Rabbits and Deer often go Awry!

Last week, we were in the final week of my internship course that accompanies my internship with me&my wellness. I was completing some last-minute projects for the class, as I was writing and organizing my weekly blog. I had four initial recipe directions that could play into it, because, as you all know, I do a recipe to go with my blogs each week. I ended up picking a direction and not using all of my ideas. That meant my husband who reads all of my blogs, said to me, “You are going to work on how to make those Cuban Style Black beans this week, right?” Request approved.

I’m a planner, a girl scout, a worrier, an over preparer. (Yes, that is an actual word.) I like to come up with a map. When I have an outline, I have a direction, and I can keep moving that way. I’m not rigid, but I do try to be ready. This is good because knowing where you want to go is the first step in getting there.

For example, I wanted to learn more about stress, its specific impact on the body, and how to navigate that on my health journey. I had taken a few health courses and had learned enough to know that stress can negatively impact a person’s health and wellbeing. My college was offering, “Stress Management Techniques” and I signed up.

This course was alright. It presented messages consistent with what I had learned in other courses. There was a section describing how exercise can help with stress reduction. The lectures explained the importance of getting enough sleep. I learned how deep breathing could help calm a person after a stressful event. And the text described how a better diet could help our body better deal with life’s stressors. I was on board. Everything that was being taught expanded my previous knowledge… until we started learning about meditation.

For that section, we were supposed to learn about meditation by following along with an audio track. This was supposed to be a daily meditation practice and we were supposed to continue this for six weeks. I understood the text, what was being described, and I understood the audio track. And I honestly gave it a real go. But I just didn’t get it.

I tried meditating when I got up in the morning. My cats came over to lie down on my chest. They just wanted head scratches. This made me feel frustrated for letting myself be distracted by cat scratches.

I give ’em cat scratch fever
Cat scratch fever
They got it bad scratch fever
Cat scratch fever

-Ted Nugent

I tried meditating sitting in a chair before doing schoolwork. Surely meditation would calm me so I could get in the right state of mind for class. Instead, I stared at my blank computer screen breathing deep breaths and listening to “The Deep Breathing Brenda” audio track feeling like I was just delaying the start of class. I think a lot of this was that I was listening to the same audio track over and over. After the third time, I was over Brenda.

I tried meditating lying down on a mat on the floor in my quiet bedroom before bed. I’m not supposed to think. Just breathe. Why is this so hard? Was I doing this right? When am I supposed to feel less awkward with it?

Take it easy, take it easy
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels
drive you crazy

-The Eagles

While I was taking this stress management course, my cousin, Celeste Hartwell was in town. We carved out some time to have dinner together and catch up while she was here. And while we were at dinner, I started picking her brain about meditation. I wanted her to explain what it meant to her and how it was supposed to work. I related to her the story of my class “practice,” that audio track, and that it just wasn’t lining up. Now, I should tell you that Celeste is a bit of an expert. She runs Divine Feminine Leaders where she coaches women to tap into their spirituality and intuition, to help guide them to success.

Celeste explained that meditation doesn’t have to have all that pressure associated with it. She said that there are as many different ways to meditate as there are different people. She gave me an example of her partner, Patrick, who plays hockey. When he is playing, he is only thinking about the game, the goal, and that specific moment. His brain isn’t wondering about his work. There are no thoughts devoted to what tasks he has coming up. He is giving no attention to things he should have done. In his brain, while he is playing there is nothing else but the ice and him.

She asked me to describe what happens when I garden. Ok. When I garden, I will first go and access how all my plants are looking. Have deer or rabbits been eating my hollyhocks? Are there any tomatoes left? What about the columbine-is he still hanging on? Then, I notice where the weeds have gotten in. I take a bucket and go along my flower beds and pull out the weeds. Sometimes I just sit in the backyard and feel the breeze. I can hear all the birds in the tree canopy overhead. If it is spring or fall, I will split the flowers up and move them to new places. Last weekend, I moved some moonbeam coreopsis to my side garden. The heat will stress them a touch, but they are hearty little bursts of sunshine. I will always water the plants last, spending time with each of my flowers.

Celeste then asked me, “When you are gardening, how long do you do it for?”

I told her, “I don’t know, just until I feel like I have had enough.”

“When you are in the garden what are you thinking about?” she continued. “Are you worried about yesterday or what will happen tomorrow?”

“I am only thinking about the plants. I am checking on them. I will steak them up or do some weeding and watering. When I am in the garden, I am only doing my gardening tasks.”

“Well,” she said, “That is meditation.”

When Patrick is on the ice playing hockey, his head is cleared of everything else. This made sense. This idea that meditation is less about a specific way of meditating and more about staying focused on that exact moment and that moment only clicked into place. This same thing happens anytime I am cooking, or painting, or in the garden. When I am very present and focused on that one thing that I love, I am meditating.

This idea was liberating. I didn’t need a special mat, a book, or meditation beads. Meditation is more about that pause. It is a chance to pause my worry about things that would happen, to interrupt my stress over things that did happen, and a bit of time to quiet the busy mind that I have switched on all the time. It is a deliberate shift from the rest of my day. This changed how I thought about meditation. I now had permission to be very absorbed in whatever moment I felt at peace. This meant the next time I was laying on the floor in the morning and my cat was lying down next to me, I now had permission to just play with her and fully enjoy that moment.

These basic concepts on meditation were a good start. They inspired my curiosity for the me&my mindful family course. This series offers a low-pressure approach to meditation with easy to follow concepts. They offer a similar message, where no special equipment or time commitment is required. For someone newer to meditation, the material in the me&my mindful family course is enjoyable and easy to incorporate. I wish I knew about those videos and modules on meditation last year when I was first learning about stress. I think everyone could benefit from a version of meditation and incorporating into their day deliberate time for that pause.

Blog written by Sarah Holtz on 24th July 2021