Deep in the soil of my mind, many seeds wait. They lie sleeping, waiting for the right conditions to wake them up; to activate them. Some are already awake and have grown roots, but no shoots. I may be completely unaware of them until I notice the green shoots poking up through the dark brown soil. But I will only see this if I am paying very close attention.
When I plant tomato seeds, I notice these little shoots because I am cultivating the soil to intentionally produce tomatoes. I do this because I love tomatoes. In the tiny amount of land I claim for my tomatoes, I will notice the weeds and I will pull them to be sure that my tomatoes have the space and resources they need.
A few feet away, however, I do not notice the weeds until they grow densely or until they bear fruit or I may not notice them for several seasons, after many more seeds have been dropped and have taken root.
Some of these seeds are unbelievably hardy. They need very little to thrive and are quite difficult to get rid of.
For the past several years I haven’t made the time to tend my actual gardens and they have been left to find their own course. Lemon balm, pokeweed and black-eyed Susans have taken over everything but the Japanese maple. If you look carefully, you can see the orange heads of butterfly weed, the light purple petals and orange cones of echinacea and the vibrant red pineapple sage peeking through, trying to survive.
I planted the lemon balm and black-eyed Susans years ago, but did little to nothing to cultivate them afterwards. The pokeweed were uninvited to the party, but this didn’t stop them from coming and proliferating.
I have noticed that in the garden of my mind, aversion is an insidious little seed. It needs very little to take root and it grows exponentially.
I awake suddenly to a sound I can’t identify; and then I groan. My radio has been knocked off the station again and I’m waking up to the irritating sound of static. I quickly slam down the snooze button. Just nine more minutes. I HAVE to have nine more minutes of sleep. Before I know it the static is scratching through my brain again. I hit the snooze button and consider the day’s schedule. I groan and begrudgingly sit on the edge of the bed, rub my face and decide to start the day.
Here’s the thing. I am waking up to a loving husband lying beside me. My son is home from college so both of my children are well and safe in our home. I am getting up to go to work in a career I have chosen and love. I am not waking up to face a day filled with things I dread. I’ve done that before. I know what that feels like. That is NOT what is happening to me this morning.
This is nothing more than aversion; just the habit of aversion. There is literally no reason for me to not look eagerly to the day that waits to unfold as I walk through it. But there it is, first thing. Aversion.
But wait, there is another plant that I have cultivated. I have consistently watered and tended the seed of mindfulness. I mediate, I study, I notice the feel of the warm sun and cool breeze on my skin. I am aware when the tightening occurs in my throat that signals feeling shut down.
My mindfulness is a powerful plant. It has the ability to embrace and transform my other plants. As I notice the fatigue and resistance to the day I can take a deeper, more conscious breath. I know that the inhalation opens and energizes. I know that the exhalation releases and relaxes. With that knowledge and with my mindfulness I consciously energize my body and mind and release the stress that my aversion was creating. I look over at my husband and send a thought of gratitude and a wish for his deep happiness. I then look ahead to my day and smile at the possibility.
I know there are problems in my life that must be faced today. I know that there have been and will be times with more or fewer or different problems. I know there are others who live in fear and oppression and lack. These skills do not solve all of life’s problems, but they do create the tools we bring to the job. These tools can improve our life situations and the abilities to meet our difficulties or they can add to the suffering.
What are you cultivating?