Anahata Project: Words from a Volunteer

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Every Sunday morning from around mid-April to early November, I pop on old brown pants, a raggedy white shirt that proclaims “I Walked the Bourbon Trail” and a black hat with RF on the front that I am pretty sure stands for Roger Federer, and head out to work in the Anahata garden. This garden is the source of produce for the Anahata Food Project, a community service project of Yoga on High that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to a local food pantry.

When I get there, I always take a deep breath and feel my body slowing down to the rhythm of the farm. This time of year, I am treated to the brilliant orange flash of a red-winged blackbird, the deep rum- rum of the bullfrogs and the discoveries about what has grown, flowered or ripened in the garden in the last week. It is also time to say hi to my fellow Anahatans, and catch up on their doings since last I saw them. It is my time to focus on the present and leave my worries and small irritations (and my smartphone) in the car and focus on being in the sun and working with the earth.

I did not know when I volunteered to grow food as part of my ‘yoga as action’ that I would receive much more than I put into it. Like a pebble thrown into a pond, the experiences and lessons from Anahata have rippled over everything in my life. The gardens taught me to value growing things. This has turned me slowly over the years into a gardener at my home. I went from barely mowing my grass to taking pleasure in growing herbs and vegetables amongst the flowers I selected in my yard. I learned how to care for plants from master gardeners. For instance, did you know that comfrey is opium to bees and should be planted near your tomatoes?

I learned what pesticides and herbicides did to bees and other living things, so I made my yard a ‘cide’ free zone. I must say, it is pretty cool to see bees now in the clover that co-exists with the grass in my yard. I went from wrinkling my nose at earthworms to cooing to them and rescuing them from the sidewalk after a rain shower. I learned about reiki and solar energy opportunities and new ways to cook from friends at the garden. All this has made my life fuller and richer. Working in the peace of the garden has helped me to slow down and enjoy the moment, whether I am in morning commuter traffic (challenging I will admit) or out with good friends.

This may be the time for a teaching moment on how yogic karma works when you input good deeds and intentions into anything, be it the Anahata project or reading to a child or smiling at a tired co-worker in the cafeteria. And I guess I will take that moment. Giving with positive intent over time can bring light and energy and, yes, good karma into your life – just ask me. I am the short blonde with RF on her hat and dirt on her knees weeding around the beans in the back row.

The Anahata Food Project is one of many programs sponsored and funded by the Yoga on High Foundation. For more information on the foundation, please follow this link .

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