” A man’s mind might be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild, but whether cultivated or neglected, it must and will bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weeds will fall therin, and will continue to produce their kind.”
There is a picture of my oldest son when he was three years old, standing in a field of dandelions on a bright, summer day.
In his hand is a dandelion stem, and on his face a puzzled frown, for he had just blown away his first puff of white dandelion seeds. They can be seen drifting away in the breeze behind him. He had not expected to lose his flower, but this new discovery brought a fun delight. Soon, the air was snowing with the white fluff of blown dandelion seeds.
I think about this memory often in the spring time when the gentle breezes send varieties of seeds and weeds into my garden. I imagine other little children blowing their flowers and sending them innocently into the air, not realizing that I will be fighting those weeds with a vengeance in my garden. It makes me giggle. Ah, how the actions of one can affect another….
The garden of the mind is a more sneaky matter. It’s harder to keep track of all the seeds and weeds that are blowing into that garden. 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.
There are countless weeds coming at us all the time. Weeds with thorns of violence, weeds that breed bramble bushes of negativity, weeds of depression and inactivity are just a few that we are in constant battle with.
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
Fill 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 flowers of your choice. Plant your seeds close together so that the weeds can’t 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 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. 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.
How is your mind garden doing these days?
Angela Todd says
OMG Wendi, I so love this. “It will be planted” — and yes, the seeds and weeds blow in from the news, from old tapes, from local gossip — but as you so rightly point out, instead of feeling accosted by this barrage, I can just pluck it up and weed it out. Glorious! Thanks, I’ll be sharing it over on Funnermother. xx a
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Wendi Kelly says
I appreciate you sharing it on Funnermother.
Yes, we always get to choose what is a weed to us and what is a flower.
Gabrielle Taylor says
This is an absolutely beautiful post, Wendi! Comparing the cultivation of our mind to a garden! Wow, I just love thinking about seeding beautiful flowers and tending to my mind and soul as a gardner does! Rich soil for contemplation here and just love your gardening tricks for mind!
Gabrielle Taylor\’s last post… Falling Flat on your Face (Gracefully) and Learning From your Mistakes
Wendi Kelly says
What’s especially fun for me, is that every time I am out in my real garden, I can contemplate my mind garden as well. They go hand in hand.
Aly Pain says
Being mindful is such a life journey, and completely like having a garden. There have been times, years, I have spent reworking the mental beds, clearing out the old and replanting for a new season. There have been times I have watered and enjoyed and admired my beautiful garden. And there have been times in my admiring I have seen a small, strange leaf that was different from the rest. With a closer look, I found it was choking vine growing secreting under all the beauty, about to choke everything off.
Gardening in my mind is never complete, and I must stay committed to be conscious of what I grow, whether I remember planting it myself or not!
Wendi Kelly says
I admit, there are times I look out at both my mind garden and my real garden and think, “How did all these weeds get in here!” It’s a daily task to keep on top of it. Take your eyes off for even a little bit, and weeds, weeds, weeds!
What a beautiful post! As I read it, I thought about the similarities of gardening to spiritual growth- there is a process and some of it is uncomfortable (weeding) and eventually there is beauty in the result (flower/learning).
Each stage reminded me of what I need to do to stay sane and grow spiritually; for example, find time to rest in the Lord, reject all the negative, only God can fill my cup, have self-control of my thoughts (positive vs. negative), and be vigilant (prayer/communion with God).
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Wendi Kelly says
I couldn’t agree more, the similarities are right on!
Kim Eldredge - New Frontier Books says
What a lovely metaphor! And funny thing… in Real Life weeds are NEVER something that cause me stress. It’s as simple as dealing with them and moving on — easy peasy. I’m going to copy that philosophy into my mental garden as well!
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