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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mindfulness and the Inner Garden

There is a saying with many versions which goes something like this:

"What you think about, you become."

Much has been written lately about the variants of this saying and it's variety of meanings to a variety of people. It is an important thing to realize when working with intention or visualization, and many people have seen great change come about in their lives through positive thinking and visualization.

Part of this personal work being done by so many these days has a direct connection to mindfulness. These people are paying attention to what their minds have been thinking for so long, all the negative and pessimistic theories of the future, all the poor perspective of the past and all the hopeless thoughts about the present and realizing that they were creating a lot of it.

Of course there are those who will say that there really were bad things going on in their lives. To them i would have to respond by saying that we should be careful to judge things because so much good comes of what we initially see as bad. Often, one will find that one was simply focusing only on what they perceived as the negative affects events had on their lives. They were ignoring all the doors that opened, the people they met, the strength and wisdom they gained.

For the most part we often get into a rut with our thinking. This is a habit where we are no longer consciously thinking fresh new thoughts about current events, but rather responding to these events by just playing old tapes. Old recordings of the same old thoughts about things, the same old fears and jaded pessimism. And so at times, our lives become like a record that is skipping, repeating the same thing over and over. Running over the same old ground, not really learning our lessons and moving in a new direction, but repeating the responses we had in the past to the things of the present and usually finding ourselves in the same predicament.

But it is easy to see that when we dwell on the things we fear about our lives, we are actually dwelling in those fears. Living inside those thoughts. They are like warped glass bubbles we surround ourselves with and observe the world through. We won't have a clear vision when we do this.

Mindfulness practice is a good way to exercise the minds ability to think consciously. It is not a lazy way of thinking or an avoidance of life's issues, it is rather a very active way of thinking and connecting to the moment. It helps us to recognize when we are playing tapes, and then we can nip it in the bud sooner.

I found that this was important when i began working on my life's intentions. First, i had to stop thinking all the negative thoughts i was having about all sorts of things. Work, relationships, money, recreational time . . . you name it. I hadn't realized how pessimistic and grumpy i had become. When i realized this negative influence in my life, i knew it wasn't aligned with my intentions of living a happy life. I could no longer blame events in my life (or other people for that matter) for my unhappiness. My emotions are my responsibility. They are things i can work on within myself.

I began to think of it in gardening terms. I realized that i was growing a lot of things in my garden that i didn't want to grow. But those were the things i was paying attention to, watering and feeding everyday, and so, they thrived. Meanwhile all the goodies, all the juicy, meaty tomatoes i so desired were languishing with my neglect.

It was time to reconsider my gardening practices and make some changes. Pull those weeds out and keep pulling them out as new ones popped up. Pull them out when they were small instead of waiting till they were well rooted and using up all the water and soil and shading out the good plants.

As a gardener with experience in farming and greenhouse work, this analogy made a lot of sense to me. I found a lot of fertile metaphors that related to my inner garden easily. So if you are a gardener this may be useful to you as a way of thinking about what things are growing in your garden.

I'm sure that no matter what type of work or craft we do we can probably apply it's language to our observations of ourselves. We can find a way of understanding ourselves if we think about our inner processes in the same manner as the processes we do everyday in our work or hobbies.

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