The Church of the Harvest began as a result of individuals coming together for the practice of meditation. We were just an incorporated association of people taking classes together calling ourselves “The Olympia Meditation Community” and practicing on our own for several years before several people came to the conclusion that it would be useful to put together a formal structure for our work as a community.
Many people both in and outside of the Church ask why we became a church. Meditation communities rarely utilize this structure unless they are looking for the economic consequences of being a Section 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation according to the IRS. The tax advantages have been the farthest thing from our collective mind. In fact, we are now a 501(c)(3) organization but we only got around to applying for this status in 2014. We became a Church because we were led in this direction, much to our surprise. We are still learning about the wisdom of the fork in the road we chose as our story unfolds.
Like prayer, meditation can be both an individual process and a group process. Meditating as a group is a powerful thing. And even when one is meditating alone, it is wonderful to be able to talk about said practices with other meditators. One often encounters certain experiences that are better understood and dealt with by others who have had that experience.
There are many forms of meditation. Ours is not the type typically associated with Buddhism in which the focus is on training the mind in a secular fashion. Rather we practice a somatic-based guided imagery form that gets people connected with what is going on in their entire body, as one part of a greater whole. This has the common consequence of connecting people more directly with Mother Earth, and it is probably no accident that many of our members are nature lovers who enjoy outdoor sports, gardening, and the natural sciences. We teach people to recognize and work with their energy system and energy centers, known as the aura and chakras in the Hindu tradition although we do not practice any form of Hinduism. It could be said that we have ties to the Christian mystic tradition and many of our members identify as Christian but several do not.