Gardening has been an endearing passion for most of my life. There is nothing as therapeutic as waking up in the morning, coffee cup in hand, pottering amongst my plants, noticing new growth, removing deadheads and simply soaking in the beauty of nature!
To me, this is a time when I gather my thoughts , plan my day and sometimes simply sit with the million thoughts just zooming through my mind.
It was at one such moment that an analogy struck me; of gardening the mind, to nurture and grow it.
Gardening the Mind
Any garden, to flourish, needs the basics of soil, sunlight and water. A suitable environment and lots of care ensures lovely lush growth. Growth in a garden is a slow process of patience, daily attention, every day care and nurturing.
Gardening the mind too needs the basics – of thoughts, beliefs, awareness and motivation. Along the journey of life, our mind is exposed to the varied environments.
Within the environment that the plants grow, perhaps in a container or a flower bed, there are, interestingly, other forms of plant life such as weeds struggling for survival; and sometimes even outgrowing the main plant.
Our mind too, in its process of growth, picks up a lot of weeds. Clutter, both in the garden and the mind is a struggle!
The weeds of the Mind Garden
The weeds of the mind could be – limiting beliefs, negative self-talk, self-doubt, altered perception and distorted reality. Weeding the garden for me is as simple as pulling out all the nameless little plants that I do not want and discarding them; but weeding, while gardening the mind, is a lot more tedious and deliberate work.
Let’s look at some of the weeds in our thoughts and beliefs!
1. Frame of reference:
This refers to the way a person perceives his or her environment, the world and others around him or her. Most frames of reference come from our parents , teachers, experiences we have had, the culture or geographical area we grew up in, the tenets of the religion we follow and, in the current context, all forms of media too !
2. Limiting beliefs :
Simply put these are self-created assumptions of what I can’t do, what I am not good at, what never comes my way , or what always happens only to me.
Sounds familiar? I am not good enough at this, that or at any and everything!! Often times these are self-construed; and, at other times, messages picked up from those whom we look up to!
3. Perception vs. Reality:
A lens through which each of us individually view reality. This lens clouds how we interpret, decide or act on reality. Interestingly, this lens is not very clear and is often warped by our preconceived notions, positive experiences and cognitive distortions! We create our reality based on these perceptions.
Fertilizing the Mind Garden
Every month I have a ritual practice that involves some housekeeping of my plants, feeding them some extra special organic nutrients, some trimming, repotting and a good dose of tender loving care.
Drawing the same analogy of fertilizing the plants, our mind too needs some similar inputs, that will fuel its upkeep and enable it to stay healthy and stress free.
What could some of the fertilizers be, for gardening the mind?
1. Living in the moment:
Has it occurred to you that, we spend a greater part of our lives planning for the future, rather than living in the moment. The state of active and intentional attention, to what is in front of you, focuses attention on the present.
Stop being a victim of time and stay with that which is in front of you. Enjoy the rays of the sun, gently pouring in through the window, hear the call of the birds and enjoy the aroma of coffee as you sip it!
The act of recognizing that your value is beyond your personal attributes mental or physical, negative or positive. A deep and total love for every aspect of oneself, unconditionally…. the extra pounds, the frizzy hair, the inhibitions, the shameful secrets, as also the academic highs, the charming smile and the well appreciated humour in your words!
The choice to be your true self, without hiding or censoring that which is not desirable, allows for self-acceptance.
A constant whisper of gratitude for all that you have been blessed with, enlightens the mind. It is said that gratitude works as an antidepressant and produces a feeling of long lasting happiness. Simply put, when we give or receive gratitude, we are happy from the inside.
Try expressing gratitude for the little things around you… the wild flower growing in the pavement crack, the bright sunny morning or a chirpy thank you to the garbage man.
The process of slowing down, to pay attention to where we are, what we are and what’s going on. It starts with being aware of our body, centering our thoughts, slowing our minds, while simply breathing in and out gently.
The gentle relaxation brings our awareness to what’s happening around us, and our environment. Paying attention to those thoughts coming in and going out; and not obsessing about the to-do list for the day or the errands you need to run, brings down the stress.
Gardening, they say is a joint creation between man’s intention to create a space of tranquility and nature’s ability to comply. My quiet moments in my garden have brought me immense joy. Every single time a new bud blooms in the garden, is a moment of immense gratitude for me; and I never fail to revel in the play of colours in the morning light.
To draw to a close my analogy of the gardening the mind, I found this, a very introspective piece, to reflect on.
“Imagine your mind is like a garden and your thoughts are the seeds .You get to choose what seeds you plant in it. You can plant seeds of positivity, love and abundance; or, you can plant seeds of negativity, fear and lack. You can also spend time trying to take care of everyone else’s garden; or you can work on making yours beautiful and attract other beautiful people to your garden.” Jake Woodward.
The options are open and the choice is yours !!
Asha Raghavan is on the Counsellors & Therapists panel at InfinumGrowth and available for online consultations.
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