The Recipe for Compost

Late Summer is ripe with all the ingredients for the best kind of compost.  Damp, hot and lots of overripe, even rotting stuff. Stuff rots on the vine because we can’t pick it or eat it fast enough.  Instead we begin to find ways to cook, condense, freeze, or store our excess produce. I like to think about how we do this with ourselves, how we cook our ideas, condense our thoughts, freeze our fears or store our excess feelings.  You can, I have come to conclude, see the results of these strategies in our bodies; lumps and bumps, tightnesses, hard immovable places. What would it look like if instead of cooking, condensing, freezing or storing, we composted?

Composting breaks things down, transforms them, releases heat, creates nourishment.  What if we took our ideas and instead of cooking them into big fantasies, we broke them down, released them. What would that look like? Might it be a sense of space or freedom?  And what if instead of condensing thoughts, short-circuiting our own creativity, we allowed the half-formed, half-chewed thoughts to roam around and let the flies land on them? What would happen then?  

I think about composting a lot these days as I am of an age, an age when I have acquired a good deal of life experience, but the question remains, have I acquired wisdom? In Chinese medicine we have an aphorism that says we spend our essence to gain wisdom so that by the time we die, we have no more essence, only wisdom.  I’m not sure exactly what that would look like, but I’m pretty sure it would mean the body had been dissolved and all that would remain would be some kind of rainbow light in space. This is in alignment with many wisdom traditions that tell of realized beings who dissolve into space and remain as light.

But back to composting, something that happens best in the dark.  We are entering the time of year when the light will diminish rapidly.  When will lose the heat of the day quickly after the sun goes down. It is an ideal time to allow yourself to do some composting, to choose to enter the dark, to release heat, unfreeze your fears, allow feelings to move through you.  This process of composting can happen on all levels of being; physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. We can actually create the ideal conditions for a full compost transformation of all the lumps and bumps in each of these realms.

  What remains after the compost? Well, gold dirt. But, never, ever does the compost look like what went into it.  In this way:

Healing may not resemble cure. The activity of the healer calls the patient into a different life with different assumptions and healing emerges from this. At its essence, healing is a practice, a spiritual practice, that engaged in on a daily basis creates a life that may mitigate symptoms, may help keep illness at bay, may itself heal
— Deena Metger, Entering the Ghost River: Meditations on the Theory and Practice of Healing

Healing happens as we allow the transformation. The cure, the very thing we seek, is actually just the result of all that we can allow.  The very nourishment we need. What we bring to this moment is our willingness to be transformed, and all the richness of own experience.  The perfect recipe for compost.


Retreats are an ideal environment in which to begin to compost, to access and reclaim the essence of your own experience.  When you emerge from retreat, you may find renewed strength, enhanced connection and new possibilities for the future.  Please be in touch at if a retreat might be of interest to you. 

Josephine SpilkaComment