The Mind Like a Garden
“The seeds that are watered frequently are those that will grow strong.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Now more than ever, we need to take care of our mind. Just like we use exercise and good nutrition to take care of our body and we take our cars to the mechanics for regular maintenance, our mind needs regular care. Much like you can take precautions and change lifestyle habits to improve your physical health and to avoid any serious illness or injury, you can also take many precautions and develop practices to take good care of your mind.
[Be sure to read to the end for the bonus tips!]
The Care of a Garden
Here in Maryland, we have had a hot and sunny summer with the occasional big rainstorm. The plants are full and lush and there are beautiful colors everywhere you look in nature. Personally, I have been spending a lot of time out in my gardens. It has been an extremely rewarding and satisfying new hobby. I would even call it a mindfulness practice for me.
I say this is new because, in the past, I had no real interest in gardening. In fact, when it came to our gardens, I would typically go for the lowest maintenance options so I would not even have to think about their care. I loved having fresh vegetables from the garden that Les tended to yet, I never made the time to participate in its upkeep. I did not notice the weeds popping up in the decorative gardens surrounding our house. I did not understand the draw to be in the garden.
Over the last few years, my new hobby began by collecting and enjoying houseplants. I love learning about their needs, caring for them, and watching them grow. It is a running joke in my house that I often ask, “have you see the new leaf!?”
This year has had some challenges for sure, yet the sun is shining, the plants continue to grow, and life goes on. As I mentioned, this summer I have spent more time in the gardens than ever before. Recently, as I am pulling weeds or trimming trees or bushes to help them grow well with the other plants in the garden, I have been contemplating how the mind is like a garden, considering how I can use these ideas as part of my mindfulness practice. I often find that I learn from and am inspired by nature. This specific thought cycle continues to come up so much as I work in the garden, that I decided I needed to write this article and guided visualization about it.
Imagine Your Mind Like a Garden
Even if you are not into gardening or have no experience with this task, you will be able to see the connection. Let me paint a picture for you. I am approaching my house on my way home from my morning walk. To my right, I see in my decorative garden, lining the driveway, various flowers, bushes, trees, and lots of weeds growing. I decide this is the space I will clean up and work on today. I look to my left and see another similar garden in the middle of my front lawn. I begin to get anxious about all of the work to be done as my mind moves from the gardening task to my work to-do list, and all of the things for our house and family.
It is not difficult for me to slip into a state of overwhelm when it comes to responsibilities. I remind myself of the task I plan to start with and that I can only do one thing at a time and this helps calm the anxiety. Gathering my tools and gloves, I make my way over to the garden, ready to get started.
The garden appears cluttered upon first glance and it is difficult to see clearly what needs to be done. I begin to clear out some of the weeds, then step back to see from a distance what is there. The next task of shaping and cutting back the bushes becomes more obvious to me once the weeds are gone. Again, I step back and look at the garden. Each time more is cleared out, the next step appears. More weeds pulled, more cutting back of overgrown plants and a tree that was previously hidden appears from behind the growth.
Stepping back once more, I can see the beauty of each individual plant and the entirety of the garden. Additionally, I see there is space to put in some other plants I desire in my garden. Next, these plants need fertilization, water, and clean air to be healthy. This cycle continues all summer: clearing the weeds, cutting back overgrowth, planting new, feeding the plants, and gratitude for the beauty and hard work to cultivate the garden of my desire. I know if I go too long without taking care of my garden in this way, plants will die, the undesirable plants will take over and the plants I do want will be overshadowed. This is the process that will repeat itself every year. If the steps are taken out of order or some not completed at all, the garden may become overgrown, cluttered, or plants will die out.
Taking good care of your mind is much like taking care of a garden. Here are the steps to take care of your mind as you would take care of your garden:
- Clear the weeds and cut back overgrowth: Examples of weeds of the mind
- Qualities you don’t want (anger, guilt, shame, etc.)
- Behaviors you would like to let go of
- Negative thoughts
- Minimizing your accomplishments
- Comparing yourself to others
- Negative labels
- Plant new seeds: Examples of positive seeds of the mind
- Qualities you do want to live by
- Behaviors you would like to develop
- Positive thoughts
- Celebrating your accomplishment
- Gratitude for your good qualities
- Your values
- Dreams for your future
- Things you are grateful for
- Take care of the soil—fertilization, water, and air
- Positive mindset practices
- Regular meditation
- Connection with yourself
- Clearing the clutter of your mind
- Repeat this process often
Know that “weeds of the mind” are unavoidable and happen to everyone. You can pull out the weeds while they are small and manageable and make room for the flowers you do want. Mindfulness practices, meditation, and hypnotherapy are all great ways to deal with these weeds. You can learn to calmly observe what is happening in the present moment and to recognize the difference between a weed and a flower of the mind. Positive affirmations are also a great way to grow the seeds you do want.
Above are all parts of the process of taking care of the garden of your mind. The more you take care of the garden of your mind, the more you can experience gratitude for its beauty and for your hard work. You are well on your way to cultivate the garden and the life of your desire.
Start with this guided visualization/hypnosis practice to take care of the garden of your mind.
Additionally, to really get to the root of the weeds and begin planting your beautiful flowers, schedule a hypnotherapy session with me. Here is more information about the method I practice called Rapid Transformational Therapy.
Bonus mind care tips:
- Watch out for the weeds other people throw into your garden and any other negative influences.
- Eat a healthy, nourishing diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Minimize/reduce stress.
If you are looking to dive into the world of meditation in 2020, a great starting point is our 4-Day Meditation Journey. This free program is a great resource for beginners and those looking to step back into the practice of meditation.
The Mindful Movement’s 5-week online course, Living Fulfilled is another great opportunity. During the course, you will explore how to find your purpose, love yourself, and connect with your authentic self.
Additionally, here are a few other practices you might like to clear the clutter of the mind:
Ultimately, Les and I at the Mindful Movement really want to offer resources and support possible to help you. Let us know how we can help. Please feel to leave a comment with any other suggestions, comments, or questions for the community!
With love and gratitude,
Sara and Les
The Mindful Movement
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About your host
Sara and Les Raymond founded The Mindful Movement in August of 2016. They are passionate about helping others grow and live mindful, fulfilled lives. They have both experienced profound growth and fulfillment in living a mindful lifestyle. Together they help others live a more mindful life, deepening their awareness and sense of gratitude. They strive to inspire others to live authentically with love and abundance.
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“The past is gone, the future is not yet here. If we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Whether this is your first time practicing meditation, or you have joined the journey with me to deepen or reignite your practice, I am grateful you are here now.
Know that this journey inward may not always be easy, but it can offer profound benefits when practiced regularly. And like any other skill, it takes practice and patience to experience progress.