It’s January, at least for a few more days, and on my coffee table next to me is a small assortment of my favorite gardening catalogs. Frozen winter days overcast with gray skies are the perfect time to sit back in a comfy chair with a warm cup of tea and let my mind dream about the perfect garden that I’ll have this summer.
Who am I kidding?
For the last two years my once stunning garden has been an exercise in warfare between me and the weeds that have declared squatter’s rights in my front yard. My once enjoyable hobby of puttering around the yard admiring the beauty is now an all out battle as I yank and throw, spray and dig, swear and threaten to murder and mayhem any weed that dares to return to my precious soil.
They don’t listen. I can almost hear them laughing as they plot their vicious return.
How did this happen to my once spectacular garden? That’s easy. Three years ago, I turned my back on it and concentrated on something else. I took a year off of gardening thinking that the garden could fend for itself because I was busy elsewhere. I skated by with the bare minimum, and for some mad, mad reason, expected the garden to still give me back its full glorious display. I planted no seeds, filled in no flowers, added nothing new to the garden and even worse…didn’t bother to pull out the handful of weeds that snuck in to fill in the empty spots. They weren’t that bad. Just a few here and there. Honestly…you could hardly notice them.
Now that small handful of weeds is a battle zone. When I walk past my garden these last two years, all I see is a guilt ridden chore that I have to get to, just another thing on a long list of shoulds that that I need to find the time and energy to fight and take down.
The Gardens of our lives.
I’d love to be able to tell you that my outside garden is an isolated place where this has happened in my life. But you would probably know I was lying. I have a handful of weed gardens in my life. It happens with laundry, clutter, my car-which is magnetically attracted to stuff and dirt- and it happens with my office. It has also happened with my weight. That is exactly like a garden as well.
I looked in the mirror one day to find an extra fifty pounds there that didn’t belong. Hard to believe that fifty pounds can sneak up on a person, but over the years and four kids later, that’s what life does. So then I mustered up the battle cry, went charging on to the dieting field and banished those pesky pounds right out of my life. I declared they were never to return and I meant it too. But if I turn my back on those sneaky little buggers, five of them will show up over night. If I don’t call a halt to their progress at the gate, they bring ten or fifteen of their best friends and I am back in the battle again.
The weight battle never ends. I have to stay alert. That is an ongoing war in my life. I have to constantly be putting in the healthy food, thoughts and exercise that my body needs or the weeds and pounds take over faster than I can blink and I have a huge problem on my hands. (And THOSE weeds aren’t as easy to pull out in a day)
The most important garden I have to tend to though, isn’t a place I can see. I can’t roll up my sleeves and start chucking out the weeds and clutter. The most important garden I have to tend to is that fertile place inside my head, my Mind Garden.
The Mind Garden
The Mind Garden is a tricky place. It’s hard to keep track of all the seeds and weeds that are blowing into that garden.
There are countless weeds coming at us all the time. Weeds that become bushes with thorns of anger and violence, weeds that grow into tangled bramble bushes of negativity, weeds of depression and inactivity are just a few that we are in constant battle with. Even the most diligent mind-gardener, careful to prepare the soil with fertile compost and wholesome nutrients is constantly bombarded with weed after weed in our daily lives.
How can we fight the bombardment of weeds on the mind?
It isn’t hopeless. There are things we can do.
Gardening Tricks for the Mind Garden
Overfill it with flowers. It’s a gardener’s secret that if the soil is full, then it is harder for the weeds to take. Be proactive in filling your mind with the Mindflowers of your choice. Plant your seeds close together so that the weeds can’t take hold. Flowers of positive, hopeful, passionate, inspiring mind and heart nourishing topics choke out the weeds and give them no room to take hold.
Create your own unique design. Peaceful, positive, challenging, enlightening, artistic, inventive, or whatever interests you. What would you like your mind-garden design to be? Create a plan. Put it in writing. Look at it. The brain is a malleable, fertile organ soaking up everything it is exposed to. You have an amazing amount of control over what goes into your brain. Choose to exercise that control and plant your garden the way you want it.
Pull the Weeds. Next, pull the existing weeds out. You might have to look closely to identify the weeds in your life. Some weeds look remarkably like flowers. Or they have been there for so long that we just haven’t paid any attention to them before. It might be that they are in everyone else’s garden so we thought they must be OK. Take a deep look. Once you have planned your garden design, there won’t be any more room for weeds that will take away from the plan you want. Be very selective. Pull them all! Weeds breed more weeds. Gardeners know that one weed has lots of friends.
Fill in the empty spaces with new flowers. While it takes effort and time to cultivate friendships and learning, it takes amazingly very little effort to cultivate weeds. You can do nothing but leave them in your life and they will grow and breed and take over. Once you have removed them don’t let them back in. It’s a battlefield in the garden and the weeds plan to win! Once you have removed them, fill that space up with new flowers. Make new friends that nourish your new goals. Listen and read positive information. Remember to water and fertilize and feed those new flowers. Take time and attention, carefully care for them and they will reward you with their beauty and fragrance.
Stay Alert. A gardener must always be alert and on the look-out for stealth weeds that sneak in looking like flowers, promising to be a good thing in your life, only to end up taking over the whole garden. Keep in mind, that many nice flowers, if left to over-breed can become weeds in the wrong situation. You must choose wisely with balance, and determine what are the most important flowers to fill your mind with and in what proportions.
Spend time. A Master Gardener knows you should spend time on your garden every day. Take a walk through it, enjoy it, meditate in it. Get inspiration from it. A beautiful garden will give back much more than you ever will have to put in to it, especially a beautiful mind-garden. Daily maintenance keeps the job from not getting overwhelming and keeps the weeds at bay.
You can’t escape having a mind-garden. It will be planted. What goes into that garden is up to you one way or another, by choice of doing something, or by choice of doing nothing.
It’s still a choice. Oh…and by the way, these tricks work on the other gardens of your life too.
How are your gardens doing these days? Where do you need to pull some weeds and plant some positive seeds and flowers?