A Deep Breath

From the BZC July Newsletter, by Chetan Khanna:

This Spring, we planted spinach in the garden at Ancestral Heart Zen Temple. On one particular day, my back wasn’t sore, but my fingers were chilly from the wet soil despite the sun coming down on us. My mind wandered to the idea of stamina, perhaps to distract me from my cold hands. I had come to Ancestral Heart for a few weeks, in part, to better learn to mitigate the cycles of exertion and burnout that are regular in my life. I hoped my body would further internalize the routine here and find ways to adapt it into my day-to-day.

For each spinach plant, I weeded the soil, carved out a hole, added some compost, placed the plant, and then packed it all up nice and snug. I tried not trying, easing my body when I caught myself exerting to be the best and fastest planter. I noticed the harsh voice that came up with that urge— the one that was never satisfied with what I did—allowing it to soften. I hoped that each plant would flourish, eventually nourishing us. If only I could control all the elements that could make this so! I made do with the attention and effort I could give them now. With each spinach plant tucked in the soil, I found myself slowly yielding to the moment. I wonder if longevity and stamina might be found here.

I finished planting the container of spinach. I felt the ground supporting my feet and admired the idyllic view the temple overlooks. I took a deep breath and grabbed the next container.

Chetan Khanna
Brooklyn Zen Center Sangha Member

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