“Your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.” ~ Anonymous
What’s the condition of your mind and heart these days?
Perhaps it’s crowded with worries, anxieties and stress, all part of your daily routine.
On a broader scale, maybe you’re confronted with news that extends beyond your immediate circumstances. You may be ruminating over reports of political strife, social unrest or even terrorism.
Left untended, these weighty thoughts can become overwhelming. When we concentrate on daunting ideas and contemplate the worst of outcomes, we find them diminishing our hope and squelching our inner sunshine.
Today, I’m reminded of an antiquated but timeless book I purchased years ago from a small publisher in New Zealand when still home schooling my daughter. The book’s title and imagery caught my eye as a clever parable, providing an easy to understand analogy to teach my daughter to remain mindful — and masterful — over her mind and heart.
The illustrated book told the story of how one man’s lovely garden slowly turned into a wasteland.
The process happened over time and was largely attributable to the garden’s owner failing to oversee his prized, personal plot. As readers, we learned that many seeds of “weeds” had taken root: some blew in during wind storms, others were planted surreptitiously by the gardener’s enemies.
The owner of the land didn’t realize how inattention to his garden mirrored inattention to his own thought life. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the man’s failure to address and remove the roots of errant growth obstructed the health and vitality of his garden. Simultaneously, the unwelcome seeds of anger, strife and unforgiveness were growing unabated in his personal life. They thwarted his state of happiness and dimmed his former state of well being.
Despite his darkening mood and a growing frustration with his environment, the gardener failed to take positive action. We readers wondered. Was he was lacking attention? Failing to make connections between his browning garden and a muddled and angry heart? Or was he just too lazy to care for his formerly beautiful garden?
In the end, the gardener’s personal life and happiness were restored. It happened as he awakened to circumstances and took personal responsibility to address, remove and clean out the weeds — starting from their roots.
No longer restricted by life-threatening overgrowth, the gardener’s flowers could access the sun, gain greater nourishment from the soil and enjoy expanded room to grow and thrive anew. As the gardener chose to remove harmful thoughts and offenses from his heart and mind, his personal life improved as well. He could smile again, both within and without.
A few months ago, I asked someone to film me in front of a nursery at New York City’s Union Square Market. I felt inspired to convey a similar idea about keeping watch over the garden of our mind. This one’s just slightly more up to date.
Hope you enjoy the reflections and that you, too, remember to master the thoughts and emotions you keep.
The world needs a brighter, happier and more vibrant you!
Maura is a Speaker on Influence, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
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