Gardening in the Mind

Gardening in the Mind

Stillness and inner silence is a necessary part of taming the wild mind. We have to find a way to create the conditions for this to happen. Yet, in our modern world of fast paced lifestyles we rarely stop running. There are so many distractions that we quickly become outwardly dependant, un-centered.  We fail to find the time or discipline to access the store of mindfulness just waiting to be cultivated. The external restlessness amplifies the internal restlessness in a feedback loop that ignites our wild mind. The problem is that we have closed the doors to taming the wild mind due to wrong perceptions, ignorance and continual suffering. Also because our hearts are not fully open and the tapestry of our consciousness is limited. When our consciousness is narrow, we hold on tight to all our self-imposed dramas and suffering – slamming the door shut on our internal strength and keeping our dysfunctional habits well fed and alive. And so we remain wounded, driven by our scars, anger and fears; suffering all our lives. The remedy is, however, within reach. We can unravel the knots of suffering through the practice of mindfulness and move from being mindless to being mindful. The knots of suffering are then not so tightly held once the tapestry of our consciousness expands and we can truly throw away strongly.  This is brought about by organic gardening in the mind.

Gardener

When I retired from teaching at Carleton University, a dear friend asked with some concern just what was I occupying my mind with these days. Here is my reply to her:

“I have enjoyed the time and space to play with Mother Earth as a diligent and slightly crazed organic gardener.  The blaze of flowers at the front of the house is a testimony that I am doing OK so far.  An experienced gardener would no doubt wonder what on earth I am doing in the back yard of the house.  The back garden is surrounded by trees so it is as though one is in the middle of a forest.  I plant vegetables in between flowers.  Veggies have such a dull life struggling to poke their heads above ground, then taking in rain, sun and soil nutrients to end up on some human’s plate.  So to make them happy I plant them between gorgeous flowers so they have some jazz and elegance around them while they are alive.  Just imagine a carrot waking up in the morning to see a beautiful pink hibiscus in full bloom on one side and multi coloured snapdragons on the other.  They are bound to be happy and grow really well before they end up on some human’s plate.  And on it continues with beets, tomatoes, lettuce, arugla, swisschard, kale, rhubarb, beans, asparagus, cucumbers, peppers, peas all planted between beautiful clumps of flowers. 

 There is also a herb garden in amongst the peony bushes.  Some herbs are very nice and well behaved, but others are just downright unsociable.  I had to separate a green basil plant from a red basil plant as they were always quarrelling.  Now that they are at the opposite ends of the garden in their own solitary tubs – they are thriving.  An experiment I tried was to move a small juniper tree from the front garden, as it was dying there, to the back garden where there is a tall cedar hedge.  I think it will be much happier in the back yard – cedar language is a bit different to juniper language but a lot like French and Spanish – so they can communicate a bit.  I have welcomed the juniper into the backyard with much compost and water but will leave it up to the cedars to encourage her to live – and she has decided to do so and thrives in her new environment.  And on it goes with much weeding and then much more weeding to keep both the veggies and the flowers happy.  Sometimes I am not aware of the difference between a weed, veggie or a flower – so I just leave whatever it is to grow before taking any action. My garden is a still place, yet buzzing with life and joy.

 All of this is a metaphor for the organic gardening I do in my mind every day.  That blooms also – with the diligent daily watering of the beautiful seeds and the careful pruning and transformation of the negative and harmful weeds. The still place in the garden is the still place in my mind.  Once there I stop, reflect on my patterns and habits of energy use that can be changed and ensure that appropriate action is taken.  Simple yet surprising!  

 I thought you really needed to know this, if only to make you smile.

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