icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Diane Dreher's Tao of Inner Peace Blog

A Time for Compost


Our gardens offer enduring lessons of growth and renewal. A compost pile can turn weeds, fallen leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen waste into rich new soil. The same principle holds true for our lives-- we can compost old patterns into new possibilities.[1]


In an examined life, everything can be compost. Cherished memories empower us and enrich our lives. But so can painful memories from the past, old habits we'd like to break, patterns we've outgrown. Instead of dwelling on negative experiences, which can often attract more of them, we can compost them.  Becoming more mindful, asking "What can I learn from this?" and then moving on can turn a negative experience into a new cycle of wisdom and growth.


If you'd like to try this personal form of composting, please join me in this meditative exercise:


Close your eyes, take a deep mindful breath and slowly release it

Then, as you continue to breathe slowly and deeply, think of something in your life you'd like to compost:

  • An old habit you'd like to break.
  • A negative experience that keeps nagging at you.
  • Ongoing guilt or resentment about a past experience.
  • Something you did that you regret.

Say to yourself, "I am ready to compost this."

And take another deep breath and release it.


When you open your eyes, write your compost plan on a piece of paper or index card. "I compost___[name what you've chosen to compost]." Then sign and date the card.


For the rest of this month, look at the card each morning and say to yourself, "I compost ­­­­___," stating what you've chosen to compost.

It takes time to break old habits, so don't be discouraged. Whenever you find yourself falling back into the old pattern, stop and tell yourself, "I've composted that."


At the end of the month, tear up the card and bury the pieces in the ground, adding your compost to the soil.

Connecting us to the ongoing cycles of nature, composting can bring us new beginnings and renew our faith in life.



[1] An earlier form of this exercise appears on pages 30-31 of my book, Inner Gardening: A Seasonal Path to Inner Peace. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2001.

Be the first to comment

Take a Mindful Moment

Mindfulness, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, "is awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."[i] So much of life can pass us by when we are disconnected from the present moment. Becoming mindfully present is simple, but not easy, especially in our Western world that puts so much emphasis on external accomplishment. And because our minds wander, we spend much of our time thinking about the past or future when we could be more present to life, right here and right now.


The present moment embodies the Taoist concept of wu-wei—being, not doing. When we're in a state of being, we are present, in touch with our feelings. We're not distracted, not emotionally numb, not driven by stress or feeling disconnected and alone, but present in the flow of life.


I invite you to join me in a mindful moment.


Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed, sit comfortably with your eyes looking down or gently closed, and focus on your breathing, the natural rhythm that connects you with all of life.


Take a slow, deep mindful breath. Feel the breath flow slowly through your body.


Then gradually release it, letting go of any tension with each outbreath.

Breathing in.

Breathing out.

Only here, only now.


When your mind starts wandering—and it will—bring your attention back to your breath

Breathing in.

Breathing out.


Feel the deep comforting presence, the gift of this moment, this life


You can practice this short breathing exercise with your eyes open when you're waiting in line, stuck in traffic, or whenever you need to return to the present moment. Then you can use it to return to a more calm and centered space whenever you're feeling stressed.



[i] Kabat-Zinn, J. (2012). Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment—and Your Life. Boulder, CO: Sounds True. Quote on page 1.


Be the first to comment