“Sangha at the Farm” is a meditation community that meets monthly on the first Saturday afternoon of the month at Gather Farm in Johnston, RI. The sangha meets inside a large lush “high tunnel”, exploring social meditation*, traditional seated meditation, walking meditation and/or mindful movement, all with an emphasis on our connection to the natural world around us, our interdependence as social beings and our moment to moment awakening to all of life.
Lineage / Community: There is no affiliation with any particular teaching or lineage though the practice and philosophy are drawn primarily from Buddhist as well as western mindfulness traditions. Originally known as the “Pot Lid Sangha” (referencing the pot lid that served as meditation bell at its first gathering) the group was founded in 2001 by Rebecca Foster and poet/teacher Rick Benjamin as an intentionally fluid, open, warm, urban & “real life” community of meditators, dabblers and seekers. The sangha met biweekly in Providence for 13 years. After a multi-year hiatus, Rebecca restarted the group outdoors at the farm in 2021 as a response to the growing social isolation and disconnection from nature of the preceding year(s).
Anyone interested in meditation and exploring freedom from the inside out is welcome. For more information and/or to join the sangha e-list, visit Contact/Connect.
- Emphasis on simplicity of practice rather than on specific rituals, rites, symbols or mantras;
- Deep reverence for the sacred land that surrounds and supports us;
- Emphasis on building community connection through shared practice & insight;
- Heartfelt but lighthearted;
- Intent to honor all individuals’ perspectives and experiences;
- Intent to support each person’s life/spiritual journey by coming together to sit, explore, share;
- Fluid open invitation to anyone to practice; beginners welcome.
Current Typical Practice
- Gather and Greet
- Bell & Invitation
- Social Meditation (10-20 minutes)
- Mindful Movement (5-10 minutes)
- Traditional Meditation (10-20 minutes)
- Community Sharing of Insight (5-10 minutes)
- Bell & Dedication
- Optional Potluck Snack Time
Leadership: “Sangha at the Farm” is co-led by Rebecca Foster & Alex Holt in partnership with the owners of Gather Farm.
Rebecca has been a dedicated meditator and mindfulness practitioner for more than two decades and takes great joy in the ever unfolding discoveries as a “beginner.” She is also Lead Facilitator for the Prison Mindfulness Institute’s “Mindfulness Based Emotional Intelligence” (MBEI) programming at the Rhode Island Adult Correctional Institution and a consultant & yoga teacher for Brown University’s “Peace of Mind and Body” project. Learn more about Rebecca. To learn more about her work behind bars visit Embody Freedom: “Inside”.
Alex‘s journey with meditation and contemplative practices began in 1998 with addiction issues and a mental health crisis. Regular daily practices and support structures provided the foundation for his recovery and continue to be an essential part of his life today. Alex has studied with numerous teachers and participates in at least one week-long silent meditation retreat each year. He aspires to bring formal sitting practice and presence into all arenas of life – especially work and parenting. He is the Executive Director of International House of Rhode Island and is an Integral Coach working with individuals and organizations. Alex lives in Providence with his wife and eight-year-old son.
- Offered by donation ($0-$10 suggested)
- BYOZ: Bring your own zafu or meditation cushion (there are plenty of folding chairs as well as a few pillows and backjacks available)
- For more info and/or to join the sangha e-list: contact/connect.
*Social Meditation as described by Kenneth Folk via the Buddhist Geeks Network: “Meditation is the bringing of attention to experience, and training in meditation is training in attention. By this definition, neither isolation nor silence are required; we can train together, and that is good, because together is what we were born for. Social meditation brings the benefits of traditional silent meditation while simultaneously cultivating intimacy and strengthening bonds between humans. Social meditation is engaging in a way that only social activities can be. And social meditation provides a built-in feedback loop; when two or more people are taking turns reporting their experience in real time, there is little time for mind wandering. Meditators stay on task, thereby increasing the efficiency of training.”
Gatha Walking Meditation
by Thich Nhat Han
“When I walk the mind will wander.
With each sound the mind returns.
With each breath the heart is open.
With each step I touch this earth.”