Monday, March 26, 2018

The Mindful Gardener

Red Flower Bouquet on Brown Leather Boots during Snow Weather

The human obsession to "get a jump on things" has always been a mystery to me. The notion that there is "a time and a season" for everything is not just a Biblical quote or song lyric. Take gardening, for instance. Garden supplies and starter plants have been out since before Valentine's Day. The calendar may say that spring is here, but I hardly need to point to the weather for the last week or so to convince anyone that we might want to hold off on starting our gardens just yet. For those of us in the more northern regions of the country, even mid-April can still be a little premature unless you know how to rely on your senses, your intuition, and your experience to garden instead of The Farmers Almanac and HGTV.

For example, in the Spring, the air takes on a different quality, a different smell. Just as in the Fall when the air is crisp, and I tell my grandads that is "smells like the start of school," I can almost taste a difference in the air that says: "It's safe to plant now. The worst is over." I always took my cues from the birds and animals around me, as well as how the trees were coming along. How they behaved and reacted to the weather told me whether it was safe to get started, or whether we had to wait until the trees were in full bud, the birds song got louder, and the squirrels stopped hording. I didn't care if the rest of the neighborhood had their gardens hoed and their seeds in the ground by the end of April - if it didn't feel right in my bones, I waited until it did. I almost never lost anything to a late frost once I started to trust my intuition.

The same holds true of the inner gardening that we do. We have to be mindful of what we plant and when. Reacting to something outside of ourselves, especially if it is stressful or painful, by sowing seeds of resentment, anger and blame, before we've had a chance to amend our hearts (our inner soil), will produce results that are not productive. If anything, they will be counter-productive. Also, just like those times when the wind blows the seeds from our garden to the garden next door, sometimes those negative feelings blow over and take root in those around us, even if they have nothing to do with the cause of the suffering. This is especially true of our young ones. Their soil is so new and fertile for planting, and here we are planting weeds instead of flowers.

We have to be mindful inner gardeners, not only for our own sake, but for the sake of those we love. Take some time to make sure the bad weather has finally passed. Amend your soil with compassion, love and self-care before charging ahead. Make sure that the ill wind doesn't carry some of those bad feelings over into someone else's garden and, most of all, forgive yourself when you plant weeds. A very famous gardener once said that "a weed is just a flower in the wrong place." Wayne Dyer was fond of saying that the only difference between a weed and a flower is a judgment. Stop judging yourself and start trusting yourself. You'll be amazed at the miracles you will be able to grow.

And so it is.