Whether we are aware of it or not every thought we have is creating our next moment. Our thoughts are like the seeds we plant in our garden of consciousness. Whatever we plant and nurture will grow into flowers. If you have every had a garden you know that you have to attend to it by carefully planting the right seeds, watering it, letting the sun shine down on it and the magic of the earth encourage the seeds to grow. The wind will blow seeds and weeds from other gardens into your patch so you must pull out those plants that you don’t want to grow. Our minds are no different. The thoughts we have are the seeds of our consciousness. We must attend to them as we would our garden. In this week’s blog I will be exploring how your thoughts and what you nurture determines what you harvest.
The thoughts from our past are what we are journeying now. Everything you have ever thought and nurtured has brought you to this very point in time. Thoughts arising out of your childhood, education, experiences and challenges have been nurtured, consciously or unconsciously, bringing you to where you find yourself. Consider for a moment what your thoughts about life are right here and now. If you feel as though life is harsh, cold and lonely it is for you because of the thoughts you have had throughout your life. If you feel life is rich, abundant and filled with happiness it is because of the thoughts you have nurtured. You are probably thinking to yourself “yes but I have had hardship in my life and that has brought me to this point”. Indeed, all of us have had challenges but it is our thoughts about these trials that determine what comes next. When I fell and broke my nose as a child I certainly had physical pain but it was the thoughts about having to go the doctor and all that would happen which created greater suffering and anguish. We have all heard many stories of abuse and neglect in someone’s childhood. Some individuals go on to become highly successful, loving beings. Oprah Winfrey for example is someone who endured child abuse but became one of the most highly successful women in the world. Only we can look back at our lives, consider what has occurred and contemplate the thoughts we have cultivated that have made us what we are today.
The thoughts we have currently are creating our future. What we plant today will grow into strong plants tomorrow. Reflect for a moment upon the kinds of thoughts you are having about your life. Are they happy thoughts where you feel support, loved and safe? Or are your thoughts negative and angry about your life or situation? How we look at things and what we tell ourselves determines our happiness or suffering. If I keep telling myself how stressful life is right now, I am focusing upon my suffering. Rather, if I was to look at the underlying beliefs around my suffering I may be able to liberate myself from the views creating my anguish. Have you ever noticed how when life seems to be going your way everything seems so much easier? You feel happy and carefree. Happiness breeds happiness; suffering breeds suffering. When you are feeling down turn inwards and listen to what you are saying to yourself that is causing you to continually feel this way. It has been my observation that when I am negative about something, negativity breads negativity and everything becomes negative. We become mired in the mud and can’t get out.
I would also have you consider that while our thoughts are the seeds, it is the words we use and the actions we take that nourish our thoughts. When we feel negative or upset about something our words mirror our feelings. We use words and say things that articulate our frustration. In times of overwhelm, I have noticed I say things I wish I hadn’t. My actions reinforce my frustration. I may type on the computer keyboard harder or hang up the phone quickly. It is at these moments, when we are knee-high in the stew of our own discontent, that we need to pause and consider carefully whether we want to reinforce our suffering or begin to turn the table around. Taking a few moments to notice our breathing and becoming aware of our inhalation and exhalation can help to bring us back to the present moment. Three full, long, deep breaths in which we are watching the full-in and out breath will allow us to pause and consider what we are watering in our garden of consciousness. Unless we are attending to our garden, the weeds of discontent will grow. I recognize only too well within myself that this is not easy to do. Taking a moment to gather oneself when upset is challenging. However, when considering that each thought we plant creates our next moment there is good reason to carefully consider whether we want to create happiness or suffering. Attend to your garden moment-to-moment. Pull out the unwanted thoughts. Differentiate between the plants you want to grow and those that just find their way into your garden. Nourish only those thoughts you want to see grow.
Some of our thoughts are so engrained into our unconsciousness that we don’t realize we are nurturing them. From childhood we have become conditioned by our parents, environment, culture and society that we automatically think about things in a certain way. While some of these thoughts can be helpful, many are based in people’s negative thinking and suffering. Because our conditioning can be so deeply rooted in our unconsciousness it is difficult to see. Being diligent in observing our thoughts and challenging assumptions can help us to break free of these patterns. Regular meditation will bring our unconsciousness to the surface for us to see. Through daily meditation and mindfulness one can begin to create a garden which produces happiness, joy and loving-kindness.
What thoughts are you nurturing? Look into yourself right here and now. Are you nurturing a garden of angry thoughts? If so, that will be what you create for yourself. Are you growing thoughts of loving-kindness about yourself and others? Then your world will be filled with loving-kindness. We are always at choice – choose wisely what you are watering.
May you have a week filled with happiness, joy and love. My endless gratitude to all of my teachers for their unconditional love and compassion.