In just a month or so I will be back out in my garden, raking the soil, planting seeds, mowing the lawn, pruning the shrubs, and (of course)... weeding! I can already see weeds that have sprung up this winter, ardent in their desire to be the centre of attention for a short while before the glamorous annuals take centre stage. Last year out of curiosity I let some weeds grow in between the vegetables. I thought I would give my back a little respite and free up some time for other things. It was actually quite enjoyable to have a bit of a wild garden and I had lots of fun with an app on my phone identifying all the different weeds that naturally grew without effort. Some weeds had pretty flowers for the bees, and some had interesting perfumes, but ultimately this just led to a lot of work pulling them all up once they were too big. The weeds had started to take over, and some were even harmful: one in particular caused burning blisters to erupt on my skin as its sap leaked out. Another particularly deadly weed masquerading as a carrot right in amongst the carrots became part of my 'carrot top' pesto. Luckily it was not consumed as I realised the error just before we ate it!
The reason I am writing all this is that I just listened to a talk on vocation whilst I ponder my own purpose in life, and the speaker mentioned doing some 'gardening of the mind'. It got me thinking about the weeds in my own mind that might be preventing me from pursuing my own hearts' desire. The thoughts of 'other people won't approve if you choose that career', 'how can I actually make a living doing that?', and 'you are kidding yourself if you think you can do that!' etc have grown deeply rooted and have taken a strangle hold like bind weed on my mind. Every time I try to tune into my deepest desire it feels like this: I know that desire is there somewhere and I have an intuitive sense of what it is, but the weeds have become so big that I can't see it. I imagine a sculpture of this desire, something God carved in my heart carved a long time ago, now obscured and hidden from my view by thick, almost jungle like, foliage.
As I prepare to step into gardening season, I have decided to garden my mind too. The first bit of weeding I have done is to write this post after watching the talk on vocation I mentioned. And as I finish writing thus dies the weed that represents the thought that I am unable to write from my heart. I plan to write a little more often and just see what develops. Whether I'm writing just to myself or others, I am writing for the pure joy of it. I also plan to spend a little time in my mind garden every day, just meditating on and mindfully noticing the weeds, and then allowing them to die back to the ground if the time is right. I'm definitely not going to be forcibly removing any weedy thoughts because just like that poisonous sap, as soon as we try and get rid of our thoughts they have a tendency to go on the attack! Have you ever tried to get rid of a thought? It just shouts louder. For example, the famous example of asking someone not to think of a polar bear. Immediately the mind conjures up the image. Also, I plan to read The Well Gardened Mind by Sue Stuart Smith as my next book.
I thought my first post here would be about yoga, and I suppose in a way it is because mindful meditation is a part of my yoga practice. So until the next time I invite you to spend some time meditating mindfully in your own mind garden and just notice everything that is there, all the thoughts - the harmless ones, the destructive and poisonous ones, and the beautiful ones. Happy gardening.