Imagine your mind as a garden. In its fertile soil, thoughts grow. Some are beautiful. Some are loving and kind. Some are jealous and spiteful. Some are fearful. Some are enthusiastic and others are frustrated.
“A mind grows by what it feeds on.” – Josiah Gilbert Holland
Just like we are affected by the flowers or weeds that grow in our garden, we are affected by what we constantly think.
“…as a man thinks in his heart so is he” – Proverbs 23:7
Is your garden full of the weeds of discouragement, shame, guilt, envy, fear, anger, worry or jealousy? It might not be all that pleasant to admit it, but those weeds grow there only because they are allowed to. The more those ‘weeds’ are allowed to flourish, the more they choke out the beautiful and fragrant flowers you would like to enjoy.
Meditation can help you become a master gardener.
It can teach you to plant the precious seeds of love, kindness, compassion, generosity, honesty, helpfulness, appreciation. Just like the beautiful flowers that create the magnificent blooms, your beautiful thoughts need constant watering, feeding and loving care so that the weeds don’t strangle them.
Here are three ways that meditation can help you weed your garden and nurture your gorgeous flowers:
- Don’t water them! Even the most positive among us sometimes have negative thoughts. Sometimes the most negative thoughts of all are those we have about ourselves! We call ourselves “stupid” when we make a mistake. We don’t forgive ourselves. We point out our shortcomings and ignore our positive attributes. And – we all do this! But it’s possible to train the mind to simply PREFER positive and helpful thoughts. Instead of trying not to think negative thoughts when you’re meditating (or in your everyday activities), just don’t pay attention to those negative thoughts that make you feel bad. Starve them and they will wither!
- Look at what’s beautiful. Be mindful of what you say in your own mind. Pay attention to the words you use when you talk to yourself. Usually we’re not all that aware of our words because most of what we say day after day, is very similar to what we said previously – these thought habits fly under the radar and we hardly even notice them. In meditation, though, you have the chance to really listen to your mind’s chatter (which always mirrors what you say out loud). Do your words lift yourself and others up? Do you use words that are encouraging, hopeful, and kind? Do you point out what’s going wrong, or what’s going right? Remember – your words create worlds! Your words can either create a field of possibility OR a field of limitations.
- Feel good. Pay attention to your feelings. Sometimes it’s not easy to be mindful of words because it’s easy to get caught up in them. However, it’s always easy to notice how you’re feeling. Thoughts always precede emotions so if you find yourself starting to feel bad, become aware of the thought that triggered the feeling. You can then deliberately stop watering that thought and start watering a thought that feels better!
Each one of these things is simple to do, although not always easy. But then again, tending a garden isn’t easy either. Weeds are very persistent and it takes constant vigilance to stay on top of them!
At any time you can begin to change your life by changing your mind, but you have to keep up because just like weeds, old habits will keep popping up when you least want them! But all it takes is a daily meditation practice where you become aware of your thoughts.
Don’t worry about monitoring or changing every single thought – but as you sit and silently observe, you’ll notice themes and patterns. These are the ones that require attention. Once you’ve identified a “weed” thought or thought pattern, just ignore it and choose happier and better-feeling thoughts.
“Water” them by repeating them as often as possible, to create new thought habits. These thought habits will lead naturally to better choices and actions, and therefore to better “flowers” in your garden!