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Remember to relax. Since meditation ultimately is relaxation, my one word of advice is: Relax. Let go. Release your grasping. Can we just surrender to life moment by moment? Surrender to what is instead of arguing that our point of view is the correct one?

Remember to send loving-kindness to yourself and to the world. Once while on retreat, I had a vivid dream that Death was in my single bed with me. I struggled briefly to escape his clutches, realized it was useless, turned to face him, and knew that all I could do was love Death. He was too old and too jaded to care about one more person.

Go outdoors and lie down on the grass or among the trees or in the snow. Let this earthly body sink into Mother Earth, the senses alive to the birth and death of each sensation of sound, of the feel of a slight breeze, of the sight of leaf and flower or branch and snowflake. Each moment of consciousness arising and passing away, just as it always has.

The Buddha was a genius and laid out an internally consistent path, so deep and even so counter-intuitive that I never could have discovered it on my own. For decades, I confused wisdom with knowledge. Any advice I could give would be received as knowledge. “Oh yeah. I know that. Uh-huh. Okay,” the hearer responds. Knowledge comes and goes and is worth a game of trivial pursuits, but knowledge, too, disappears.

We try to prop up our egos with stories and beliefs and knowledge. History reassures us that time goes on, that we have a place. Philosophy assuages our fear that life is meaningless. Yet when we look closely we find concepts crumbing away in our hands.

Eventually everything turns to ash. The body-ash and smoke. Thoughts are gone with the wind. Knowledge and philosophy will continue to be argued about for millennia with nobody proving or disproving anything. After all, “it” can only be experienced, and the experience cannot be put into words.

My last advice is Love, and that is better done with the heart than with a pen.

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Cheryl is a co-founder of Vermont Insight Meditation Center where she regularly teaches meditation when she isn't rearranging one of her 28 flowerbeds or tending her out-of-control vegetable garden. She is particularly interested in the parallels between nature and human nature. Master Gardener and mistress of metaphor, she delivers the Dharma into daily life in the garden on her blog, which is one of the "52 Meditation Blogs You Have to Read in 2017."

Cheryl Wilfong is the author of Garden Wisdom 365 Days, The Real Dirt on Composting, and The Meditative Gardener: Cultivating Mindfulness of Body, Feelings, and Mind, winner of 8 book awards. She is a Master Gardener and a Master Composter.

Cheryl graduated from the Community Dharma Leader program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She has completed the Integrated Study and Practice Program at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. She is currently studying a non-dual curriculum with Matt Flickstein.

She has been meditating for 20 minutes every morning with her neighbors since 1996. She attends a one-month retreat every year as well as a few study and practice retreats.

Cheryl is also the author of Following the Nez Perce Trail: A Guide to the Nee-Me-Poo National Historic Trail with eye-witness accounts, 2nd edition (2006).

For more information, please visit

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. The benefits of meditation cannot be measured.Meditation gifts us with a sound body, mind and intellect.However with a busy lifestyle it is difficult to sit down and enter a mode of thoughtlessness and focus on breathing.Many distracting thoughts keep bothering the mind and take away the joy of meditaiton.Can meditation help us do away with the impressions created in the mind?

    1. Oh, that rascal mind. It always has something to say about almost everything.

      The goal of meditation is not a silent mind, but to “watch” or “listen” to those pesky thoughts and know you are watching/listening.

      Keep coming back to the breath, if that is the meditation object that interests you the most. Keep building that muscle of mindfulness.

      Personally, i like the meditation object of hearing. “Hearing out” for the external world. “Hearing in” for the internal world of what we usually call thinking. We can’t really control the outer world of hearing. Nor can we control the inner world of hearing.

      Keep me posted.


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