Have you been beating the late-winter blues by browsing the colorful gardening catalogs? Are you eager for the time when you can sink your hands in the dirt and plant those seedlings? Do you live in a climate where you’re already out in the garden, puttering and breathing in the fresh air?
A wonderful way to wrap our minds around the spiritual journey we traverse is by using gardening as a metaphor for spiritual growth. In modern life, we’ve become oddly distanced from the land we inhabit. We might argue that the changes of seasons don’t make much difference in our daily routines. Yet we’re still mammals, enthused by the lengthening days, enraptured by a sudden afternoon of warm breezes, distracted by the way the sun peeks into our windows.
By Spring Equinox, we are nearly through the first quarter of the calendar year. Think back to the intentions you set as you reflected on what you wanted 2015 to look like. How’s it been going so far?
Don’t worry if you feel like you haven’t yet made much progress. This isn’t a race. You wouldn’t try to grow your heirloom tomatoes in weeks instead of months, right? By setting intentions and living mindfully, you’re learning to integrate your deepest priorities into your everyday life. You’ve planted the seeds of those intentions (or if you haven’t yet, it’s not too late).
Now it’s time to nurture them.
Tend to your intentions as you would newly-planted seedlings. Make sure they have the sunlight of your full attention. There are many ways to integrate your intentions into your daily routine. Pick one that resonates with you. Start the morning with five or ten minutes of meditation, reflecting on the intentions you’ve set. Write affirmations in your journal as you sip your morning coffee or tea. Make a gratitude list before bed, including moments from the day that reflected your intentions. Schedule a weekly date with yourself to check in on the steps you’re taking toward your dreams.
Nurture your growing awareness with water – your positive emotions. You want your intentions to be things that feel really really good! You know, your true passions! Otherwise you won’t stick with them. I’ve found that having lists of rules and “shoulds” for myself often backfires. Infuse your intentions, and the ways you pursue them, with joy and playfulness. Let them be something you look forward to and enjoy.
Weeding through your daily activities is a necessity for growing what you really want in your life. There are so many distractions in our lives. Many of them seem fun and valuable. But your soul’s garden is limited by the amount of waking time you have available. When you try and say yes to everything, your purpose can become diluted. Get rid of activities or commitments that no longer feed your soul. You’re not serving anyone if you come to them with resentment or dread. Create new ways to center your daily activities around your most cherished intentions.
Feeding the soil is also important. In this case, I mean taking care of your body’s basic needs: sleep, exercise, love, and good food. You won’t feel fired up about growing into your soul’s purpose if you can barely stay awake by 3pm, or if your stomach always hurts. If your life feels so overwhelming or awful that you can’t see where to start, then begin here at ground level. Set intentions to treat your body kindly, and as you practice them, your soul will naturally flourish.
The best gardeners revel in each phase of their work. Remember that your goal is less important than the journey. Plant and tend to your soul’s garden, giving it your attention each day. Bit by bit, you’ll notice green growth expanding. You’ll feel more peace, creativity, and joy as you integrate your most cherished intentions into your life. Happy gardening!