“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”
That quote by Richard Rohr got me thinking today, as I was taking a walk in the park early morning, after dropping Arjyo off at the bus stop. The path was filled with dry leaves of assorted shades of gold and yellow and made a cracking sound, as people walked over them. Poor maintenance of the park in the recent weeks has meant that the pile of dried leaves has only been getting bigger and it was then that the meaning of the quote really struck me. The leaves were just a metaphor for life itself.
What if we imagine the mind as a garden? Positive thoughts are the beautiful flowers that brighten our life. Negative thoughts are the ugly weeds that spread and suffocate the flowers. The dried leaves are the symbol of decay that need to be cleared and done away with, as part of renewal in the cycle of nature – almost how our tired, rusted, worn-out, worry-ridden minds needs to be refreshed, to get on with our everyday lives. And, yet, how often do we really give this a serious thought? Monday has a way of arriving a little too early for our liking and the pressure of the week is palpable on our bearings as we straddle our personal and professional worlds to “get on” with the day. This is why I’d like to tell you about my garden and nudge you to think.
My garden is a really tiny one that fits into our sixth-floor balcony, giving me a wonderful opportunity to tend to them as I revel with child-like happiness at seeing my blooms first thing in the morning! The plants need looking after on a weekly basis. Initially, there were just a few pots which, over time, has now come to cover the entire balcony. It is a pleasure no doubt but it is also a lot of hard work. I find that if the leaves are not pruned and the soil is not replaced on a regular basis, the flowers don’t bloom as well as they should, or, even if they do, tend to be infested with pests, which then, becomes a little difficult and rather long-drawn to treat. So, now, tending to my garden has been an ongoing process. No different really than how we treat our minds on an everyday basis.
In my case, I can tell you, if I don’t tend to it, the mind has a way of digging up more negativity and create more chaos within, which is why pruning (before those ugly thoughts raise their heads!) in time helps! As I’m not a big fan of artificial ways (rather, chemical pesticides) of tackling this, I have opted for natural weed killers (daily walk, yoga, meditation, reading, playing with children, experimenting with my camera and spending time with positive people) That keeps my garden fresh, free from weeds and ready for the beautiful blooms all throughout the year!
If you’d like to know how this happens, do try this activity and see how you feel:
Find a comfortable place to sit–inside or outside–and tune into whatever sounds you hear. Welcome all the sounds around you – the car going by, the dog barking, the refrigerator humming, the silence.
Select something from nature and gaze at it without interruption for five minutes. What do you see?
Eat a mindful meal, giving yourself plenty of time to chew and taste each bite. If you do this with others, agree to not talk during this time. What do you notice?
Give yourself a spa day or break. Do what comforts your body.
Be grateful. You are alive with the ability to experience both your inner reality and the created world. Say “thank you” several times each day.
Say this to yourself: Today I am accepting and savoring the present. I shall not let worry or tension or negative thoughts enter my mind.
I believe we can all use the garden metaphor to bring an awareness of what helps our own mind to grow and flourish. The activity I mentioned above is one of the many ways to weed out the negativity and live into a new way of thinking.
On this busy Monday, I take your leave with a small request: How about sharing what’s on your list of fertilizers and weed-killers?
But, more importantly, I’d really like to know from you – how does your garden grow? How do you renew your mind to get on with the cycle of life?