Monday, July 14, 2014

Life Lessons From The Garden: The Stillness at the Bottom of the Pond

For all of the years that I gardened on a large scale, I always wanted a small pond. I was not one that went in for those huge, fancy water features with the splashing fountains surrounded by exotic terraced plantings. No, all I wanted was a little pond with some water plants and rocks, enough to entice the neighborhood frogs and wildlife with a few fish and turtles for company. Alas, the place where I gardened was a rented home and while my landlords were perfectly okay with my digging up the grass to put in yet another flower or vegetable bed, they had a little problem with my excavating a part of the yard for a pond. So I had to be content with a few bird baths and tabletop fountains.

I have always loved ponds ever since I was a little girl living in Queens, NY. My godparents had a small fish pond in their backyard and I would sit and watch it for hours. What really interested me was not what was happening on the surface of the pond such as the antics of the fish lazily swimming about or the frogs diving in from the lily pads. No, it was the little stone figures of mermaids and deep sea divers that sat at the bottom that had my attention. I often imagined what a mystical experience it must be to sit down at the bottom of the pond in total and perfect silence. At some point an air hose that was attached to the figures would burp forth a bubble of air that would slowly rise to the surface and pop causing a ripple to begin to spread out all the way to the stone sides of the pond.

Until I discovered the bliss that comes from sitting in meditation, I, like everyone else, experienced most of my life on the surface of my understanding. Life was "out there." Once I began to mediate and become connected with the stillness and silence at the core of my being, I began to experience life in a more intentional way. From that place of stillness I "heard" not with my physical hearing, but with my heart. I became much more responsible for  the bubbles that rose to the surface in the form of my personal interactions with the rest of the world and how far reaching those ripples could be. An unkind word spoken in a moment of anger or frustration, the need to be right rather than kind, could very well ripple out and touch people I didn't even know, affecting lives in ways I could never imagine.

Meditation teacher and author Davidji tells us that before we speak we should ask ourselves three questions about what we are about to say: 1. Is it true? 2. Is it kind? 3. Is it necessary? If we cannot say yes in response to all three of those questions, perhaps that is one ripple that does not need to rise to the surface. How more beautiful our relationships would be if we only caused ripples of kindness and love in our own personal ponds? Perhaps the next time you find yourself in a discussion or disagreement with someone, you would do well to sit in stillness at the bottom of your energetic pond and ask yourself those three questions before releasing your bubble.

And so it is.