Summer 2012 Review:
A Summative Essay for my degree program at Maharishi University of Management.
This summer I completed a 2 and1/2 month internship working and living on Townside Farm, a small-scale 2 acre organic veggie farm and CSA in Silver City, NM. At nearly the same time, interspersed throughout the farm internship, I completed an “Earth Medicine” Apprenticeship with Julie McIntyre from the Foundation for Gaian Studies at Agave Ridge Retreat Center in the surrounding wilderness of the Gila National Forest. Logistically, the Apprenticeship took me off the farm to the retreat center for one 5-day intensive each month – June, July and August. That left 7 weeks for living, learning and working at the farm, and one final week off the farm backpacking and exploring the vast wilderness of the Gila on my own. Though I will only receive university credit for the farm internship, reflecting on all aspects of the summer experience is necessary to see the value of the wholeness of the trip in relation to my education in the Consciousness-Based Sustainable Living Program at MUM.
The first principle of the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) that relates to my experience is “Seek the Highest First.” My intention for the summer was to find an internship where I would be immersed in “deep ecology” with an experienced teacher, and at the same time learn practical skills and knowledge in agro-ecology. After many hours navigating through the world wide web of all possibilities, making phone calls and exploring options, it appeared my order was too tall for the time-window I had to get an internship approved with the university. With the summer fast approaching, and still seeking the highest, I realized I wouldn’t find all-in-one so I decided instead to do both: Deep-ecology and sacred plant medicine –Earth Medicine- part time, and organic farm work the rest of the time. After seeing how this nearly ideal scenario came to be, I’ll be going forth in life believing that so long as my intentions are aligned with my highest good, I really can have my cake (gluten-free, low-glycemic) and eat it too! Or, at the very least, “Seek the Highest First!”
When I arrived 1300 miles southwest of Fairfield, IA I knew I was in for a treat. My livingquarters were rugged yet beautiful; outdoor living with cover from the rain and all the amenities I needed to be comfortable and well-nourished. Falling asleep under the stars each night and waking up to the sunrise on the farm brought me closer to the natural rhythm of life. However, I soon discovered the long days in hot sun doing monotonous tasks often unhinged my connection with the grace and serenity of the land I was on. Daily meditation helped me keep in touch with the deeper source of action that surrounded me. Further, the “heartfield” practice I learned during the first week of the Earth Medicine Apprenticeship helped me walk, breathe and work with more sensitivity to the enchanted and ensouled world around me that would otherwise be bypassed without notice. My practice with the heartifled was a way to go deeper into the reality of the SCI principle: “Knowledge is gained from the inside and outside.”
As I write this I realize that I don’t have enough time to be both thorough and concise about my experience with Earth Medicine, and how it has integrated into my daily life and informed my sense of self and sense of place. The first 5-day intensive happened during the very first week that I was in New Mexico. During that time we learned about the heart as an organ of perception and experienced intimate soul-encounter while developing the capacity for intuitive communication with plants; this deeply moving and paradigm-altering week of work was integrated throughout the following 4 weeks working on the farm and living outside with the elements. The second 5-day intensive in July was followed by another 3 weeks of integration on the farm before my backpacking trip into the Gila wilderness and the 3rd and final 5-day intensive.
The structure and schedule of my summer trip had me oscillating between the world of enchanted, forested, wild healing soul work, and the world of paved, irrigated, commercial living. Though I was living and working on the farm, I was also immersed in Silver City culture at the weekly farmers market, local bars and restaurants during the week as well as day-trips on weekends with new friends. The contrast between soul-work in the wilderness and farm work within city limits challenged me to maintain a dynamic inner equilibrium with the responsibility of assimilating the range of experience in a new place.
As I began learning and working with the nuts and bolts of commercial farming: Forming raised beds, laying down and fixing drip tape irrigation, fixing more busted drip tape, weeding, seeding, harvesting, did I say weeding? – I realized how much more there is to local food than just growing and selling. I realized that local-food is as much about the local culture, climate, and resources as it is about growing food. It was enriching to learn about the tradition and culture of food-growing in the region over time, and how peoples adapted to establish food-growing culture in the high-desert. I have a lot more confidence growing food now that I am back in Fairfield. Growing food there convinced me that growing food in Iowa is as easy as planting seeds and watering. Townside’s commitment to strengthening the local food system in Silver City was inspiring; Silver City is not an easy place to grow vegetables. Farming the high desert is hard work, and throughout the summer I kept in mind the SCI principle: “Rest and activity are the steps to progress.” Daily meditation and a good sleep schedule were key components in the good health and spirit that I was able to maintain throughout the summer.
As the days and weeks came to pass I was becoming more myself, more human, more authentic, more autonomous, and neither the hard physical labor on the farm, nor the deep intimate work with Earth Medicine was too much to handle. With daily meditation keeping me in tune with the steady silence at the core of my being, I could enjoy the dynamism and diversity of life happening around me and coming from within me each day. Now, as I continue into the final year of the Sustainable Living program I am finding a new balance with the studies and activities that inspire me most. With more confidence in the garden, I’m looking forward to employing more season-extension technologies and preparing our own 2000sq.ft. garden to be more productive than ever next spring. With more confidence in the inner garden of the Self, I’m looking forward to facilitating workshops and sharing this Earth Medicine work with others. I am happy to be enrolled in a school where consciousness is the basis of our education, and I intend to make full use of the value that it has to offer me as a student in my final year.