The Inner Gardener: Understanding, Empowering, and Protecting our Well-being
Guided Meditation |
Sit comfortably and relax. Picture yourself outside. Feel the cool gentle breeze … the warmth of the sun on your face and the soft grass beneath your feet. Take a moment and listen to the sweet melody of the birds in the trees. You notice a patch of land in the distance. You see some gardening tools and a wooden box labeled seeds. Open the box. What type of seeds do you see? Now take a moment to plan your garden and how you would like it to look. What are you going to grow and where? When you are ready, pick up the tools and clear the weeds and prepare the ground by loosening the soil. Carefully pick up each seed and sow it in the ground. Cover it with soil and using a watering can, gently water each seed. With each passing day, your garden receives energy from the sun and nutrients from the soil. You have been carefully tending to your garden. Now, sit down in your garden and be still. Just watch, listen, and feel. When you are ready, come back to the present moment.
Now, if your mind were a garden, what would you grow? For those who love gardening, you can relate to the joy of watching your garden grow and then eating what you’ve planted or even plucking flowers from your garden to display in your home. You control what you plant, but more importantly how you plant, what you feed your plants, and how you protect your garden.
We understand that what we put in the body becomes part of the building blocks of the body. It becomes part of every cell. Food is necessary to live but the type of food we eat matters because it nourishes and sustains our well-being at many levels whether physical, mental, or emotional.
So, what if we applied that same care to our inner landscape – our mind?
We can use an analogy to understand, empower, and protect our well-being.
The seed of all action is thought. Just imagine how from a tiny seed a whole tree emerges. Whatever thought is allowed to flourish will grow bigger the more attention we give it. So, the quality of our thoughts and the actions that follow, all matter.
Let’s turn our attention to the weeds and the not so welcomed guests in our garden. In other words, what are the internal and external influences that affect the quality of our thoughts and our actions?
The mind may be triggered by external influences which rely on the senses for information. Whether it’s the eyes, ears, nose, tongue or touch. For instance, when we see something delicious, the desire to eat it happens in the mind even if we are not hungry. We may have 10 pairs of shoes in our closet and no room for more but all it takes is for the eyes to see a sale sign and we leave the store with 2 mores pairs of shoes that we did not need. Or the ears perk up when we hear the words: You’ll never guess what I heard?
So how about Internal influences? Well, these rely on past experiences and how we interpreted those experiences as positive or negative. Our past experiences include our feelings, emotions, habits, beliefs, and values.
Our mind is also influenced by our family upbringing, the environment around us, our social circle as well as social media. All these aspects shape our personality and influence the mind. The physical senses themselves are neutral but the type of thoughts projected on the screen of the mind show whatever is hidden within.
So, some of these weeds and unwanted guests can include but are not limited to:
Self-doubt, judging, comparing, anger, hatred, gossip, blaming, complaining, ego - the list goes on.
When we speak or act while under these influences, we are only reflecting back our own lack of self-respect, inner unhappiness, unaccountability, selfish desires, and forget that we are all on a journey and have a unique life and learning experiences.
We can also think of these influences as junk food. Who doesn’t like junk food? But we all know that while junk food may appeal to our senses and fulfill an immediate craving, junk food is calorically and not nutritionally dense. Just as diet plays a role in the development or prevention of a disease, when we feed our mind the ‘junk food’ of waste and negativity, we create dis-ease in the mind. If we separate the word disease into two words, we get dis-ease which relates to the mind and disease which relates to the body. A healthy balanced diet boosts the body’s immunity. A body nourished and sustained by all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants together with a balanced proportion of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fluids, exercise, and relaxation is a healthy body. What we feed our mind also creates an immunity to dis-ease.
Let’s talk about the gardener. Have we ever taken a moment to think that just maybe I am more than a collection of my name, age, skin color, nationality, religion, profession, possessions, relationships, and life story? Am I more than this body and what I see in the mirror? The truth is that there is more than meets the eyes. Hiding behind the physical is I, the soul, a pure conscious being in the form of a point of light. I am seated in the center of the forehead just behind the eyes.
But how do I, this conscious energy experience the physical world? Going back to the gardener who needs the right kind of tools for the garden, the spiritual gardener is equipped with three abilities which are mind, intellect, and subconscious impressions. We comprehend the material world using these three abilities and experience the material world through the body, the instrument. I, allow the type of thoughts that flourish in the mind. Thoughts happen in the mind and the intellect evaluates the thought and I, the soul, decide whether to act or not act. The experience after an action is performed becomes part of my personality or individuality that has formed from a collection of past experiences known as subconscious impressions.
Each spiritual gardener, the soul, has an original set of qualities that is part of their original personality. But overtime, we began to express less through our natural personality and more through the influences which became habits as if normal. Whether it is the habit of gossiping, negative thinking, comparing, etc.
A garden without sunshine, water, and a fence does not thrive. Just think about the sun and what that means for a garden and all of life. The sun with its light and warmth does not choose where to shine but is constantly shining and giving. Its ultraviolet light also destroys harmful organisms. So, can we be like the sunflower always looking to the Sun? The source of all light and might, of love, peace, purity is the Divine Light, the Sun of Knowledge, the Supreme Soul who is ever benevolent. When I can connect and remember who I am and who I belong to, then this soul to Supreme Soul connection is meditation. It is through this loving connection that my original 7 qualities of peace, love, happiness, purity, spiritual power, bliss, and truth are allowed to flourish and the negativity and waste is removed.
To truly understand what benevolent thinking, speaking, and actions are, I have to learn from the Divine Light. The right understanding brings awareness or realization of what negativity and waste is. Think about the gardener who is always observant of what is happening in the garden and will adjust the course of care by not allowing the weeds to grow out of control.
A gardener knows that daily attention and care are needed for a return of healthy fruits, vegetables, and flowers. If I am to enjoy the wonderful fruit, vegetables, and flowers of my inner garden, then the daily practice of meditation and spiritual understanding and application will nurture, sustain, and protect my well-being. Transformation begins to happen with each passing day just like our garden in our meditation. The habit of comparing myself to others or vice versa or the sickness of wanting more transforms into being grateful for everything I have and taking nothing for granted. Judging others changes into seeing and appreciating their goodness or the qualities of the soul that were mentioned earlier. I can always look to the Supreme Soul to help steer and guide the direction of my well-being.
It is in the stillness that we learn all the wise life lessons a garden and nature teach us. A garden generously shares its beauty, tranquility, and seasonal return. Those who love flowers, can think about the seven original qualities as the roots of a flower. Value is given not only to its beauty but also its fragrance. When the soul, a spiritual flower is rooted in these qualities, imagine the fragrance it would give. The fragrance of patience, kindness, honesty, gentleness – all the virtues would fill the air. Can you picture it by drawing a simple flower in your mind and writing the 7 qualities at the roots and each petal is a virtue releasing a fragrance? As for the seasonal return, a gardener trusts that the fruits, vegetables, and flowers will ripe or bloom in their own time. In the same way, whatever genuine effort we put into our well-being will always yield results and give a return at its own time.
So, check and ask: what am I growing in my inner garden? What I grow is what I feed the mind. At the heart of any garden is its accommodating nature. A garden is comprised of a variety of plants. In the same way, when I begin to see and value the inherent beauty in each one, my life and the world around me will become like a garden: fragrant, beautiful, and abundant.