As I had a quick scroll through facebook posts this morning, and an image with a quote saying ‘A negative mind will never give you a positive life’. And I had to comment… share my thoughts about the concept of ‘Mental Gardening’: a beautiful garden only remains beautiful, if consistently maintained, fertilized, loved and cared for.
Yes, you can blitz it every once in a while, but if you leave it, it will soon become overgrown with weeds and brambles again, strangling the life out of the good plants and flowers. It is an onerous task to dig up and re-plant an entire garden. Therefore, the concept of mental gardening refers to the daily maintenance of your thoughts, the weeds and brambles the negative thoughts, the maintenance being the ‘weeding’ out of thoughts that don’t serve you and the fertilizer the way in which you feed your mind with positive thoughts and feelings.
A comment back made me think this through further and as I walked along the river and through the woods this morning, scenarios played in my head…
There are many types of gardens… and we all have our own personal images of the idyllic garden. For me, my favourite garden is my Godmother’s … a beautiful English country garden, overgrown with roses of every colour, height and smell… a long meandering garden, with hidden corners, trellises, dark and mysterious in some parts and light and warm in others… with the fairies at the end of the garden behind the compost heap.
I compare this with Mr OCD’s perfect garden: regimented, perfectly straight mown lined lawns, trimmed box hedges, clipped, tall arrow fir trees, mainly green but with a few, simple coloured flowers that would have to be in rows and planted in total symmetry.
Does this reflect our differing minds and mentalities? My mind overgrown, a tangle of thoughts, feelings, a beautiful, interesting mélange, perfect… His, structured, neat, perfect….
I can see us both walking in our own gardens at peace… James standing tall, walking proudly, nodding at the perfect lawns, surveying the future clearly laid ahead of him…
And me, smiling, wonderous as I wander along the path, bending under branches of low apple trees, smelling the roses, excited to discover what is beyond the next gate.
My country garden would definitely have weeds, for some are beautiful…. I love daisies, poppies, clover, dandelion puffballs.. the fields and acres of Swiss mountain wildflowers of my childhood… silvery edelweiss, fields of blue gentians and sunshine primulas…
So that begs the question – do weeds provide a purpose too? Are they just as important and nutritious to keep our soil fertile to allow the true flowers and plants to grow?
I look at some of the weeds in my mind – the sad thoughts I have about my Mum… If I was to pull out those weeds, strim them down… would something worse grow in their place? Would they be replaced by more harmful weeds, nettles and the guilt of not caring? For that would surely sting more than reflecting on the sad, pretty cluster of daisies, representing the memories of my pretty Mum.
As we walk along the river bank, there is a large patch of ground covered in brambles, leaves, woodland weeds…. And sprouting in the middle, right in the middle is a beautiful patch of bright pink hyacinths. How perfect. To me this represented a mind that is in despair and it made me think of a few close to me whose mental garden could be reflective of this image. For in amongst every overgrown, strangled, desperately bland garden, there can always be a little patch of beauty… the quest is to find it… and focus on it. Find the joy in that small, pretty flower, fertilise it, water it and watch it grow… for like the hyacinths it will grow and spread and soon become a carpet of beautiful flowers, taking over the painful brambles and nettles.