Sunday, October 24, 2010

Crabgrass Meditation

Instructions and photos: Trina

We begin this meditation with a simple, mindful greeting and recognition of our foe, the crabgrass, except that being enlightened, we know that there is no such thing as "foe." We greet the crabgrass as a friend. Not a heinous, hideous, invading, alien enemy aggresively colonizing our lawn. A Friend. Our friend, the crabgrass. Much like the more well known sun salutation in yoga, this is a crabgrass salutation:

“Hi, Crabgrass.”

No sarcasm, no seething, no clenched teeth. Just a simple, respectful greeting.

Next, take a deep, slow breath in. Let the breath leave your lungs at a relaxing, slow rate. Don’t force it. This is not a hard, quick battle-worthy snort accompanied by the stomping of work boots. This is meditative, relaxing, deep breathing.

When you feel ready, flex your fingers, stretch your arms, noticing the muscles elongating ever so slightly as you reach toward and grasp your heaviest-duty shovel. Holding the shovel with reverence for the simple, humble, ancient tool that it is, breathe in and plunge the shovel straight down into the crabgrass-infested earth. Breathe out, relaxing into the movement as you lever a huge hunk of gnarled, twisted, knobby crabgrass and ever-resilient crabgrass roots up from the earth, turning it over to expose its tender underbelly and, again breathing in, whack the holy bejeezus out of the clump of roots and earth with the shovel blade. Breathe out.

Repeat for hours on end, approximately 8,946 times, all the while making sure to be mindful, to be present, using each of your five senses to anchor you in the magic of the moment:

See your efforts manifest as a pile of crabgrass and crabgrass roots voluminous enough to completely fill your 50-gallon-capacity city garbage can. See that when you finish removing the crabgrass, you have no lawn of any kind left.

Smell the sweet, dark richness of moist, earthy humus spiked with the sharp tang of a wee dollop of dog poop that you missed in your initial lawn-work preparations.

Feel the seven little clods of dirt that flick into your eye when you shake a clump of roots free of soil. Really feel them. Be with the dirt clods in your eye. Notice that they don’t belong in there, in your eye.

Taste the metallic tang of the blood drawn while biting your tongue to keep from screaming mindfully hateful things at the crabgrass, causing the neighbors to call the police with a report of domestic violence at your address.

Hear the snick, snick, snick of the five foot long crabgrass tendril reluctantly releasing inch by inch from the earth as you slowly, carefully, mindfully pull-without-pulling.

Inhale. As deep as the crabgrass roots go: that’s how deeply you need to breathe. It’s surprisingly, ridiculously, infuriatingly deep if you think about it.

Exhale. Not with disgust. Not with exasperation. Just exhale.

Banish all judgment. Crabgrass is not evil. It just is. There is no such thing as evil. We aren’t removing the crabgrass because we hate it; we’re just removing it. Even though it isn’t evil. Or ugly.

Banish all worries. Don’t worry about the fact that, at 6pm you suddenly realize you haven’t taken a single sip of water all day. You don’t need water. Your love of crabgrass will sustain you.

Once all the crabgrass and its extensive, deep, pervasive, albino-snake-like root network has been removed, the next step is re-leveling the mounds of freshly sanitized dirt and deep shovel gouges into something that once again resembles a flat lawn surface. This is very similar to the meditative practice of raking a Zen rock garden. Remember: it’s about enjoying the process, being present for the process; it’s not about some arbitrary end result. Except that in this case, nothing short of perfectly level will be good enough.

Finally, be thankful. Be thankful that the band-aid you had on did such an excellent job of keeping dirt out of the cut on your finger.

Be thankful that you've made such a remarkable transition; you used to view every length of crabgrass pulled out of the lawn as yet another nick in your root-tendril-by-root-tendril diminishing sanity. Now you joyfully and mindfully recognize the pulling of crabgrass as the physical meditation that it is.

Be thankful when, at the end of your nine hour day of digging, bending, up-turning, smashing, pulling-without-pulling, raking, re-raking, re-re-raking, and seeding, you wrap up the project with one final, ceremonial stroke of the rake across the newly pristine, newly almost-level, newly seeded lawn and one of the rake’s tines snags on a clump of crabgrass you missed.

Rejoice, knowing that your long, hard day of blood, sweat and dehydration probably did more to stimulate the crabgrass than eradicate it, so that the crabgrass will return, with a vengeance, providing you with eternal opportunity for Crabgrass Meditation.



  1. Aaaaaahhhhh..... A beautiful recitation of a wonderful experience. You have experienced a moment of clarity and understand the meaning of life, which most would not have taken the effort to do, and are a better person for it.

  2. LOL! I laughed so hard at the point when your final rake caught another clump!

    Thank you, that was wonderfully written.

  3. Thank you, reverend! And Cheryl, I knew that you of all people would recognize the superior state of my enlightened, meditative mindfulness. 'N stuff.

  4. And if you did not get every little bit of root - which you didn't because you are ok with imperfection - you will get the gift of doing this meditation again in the future! We're so lucky we have weeds!