Tending Your Inner Garden
Tips for Staying Grounded When Things Feel Uprooted
Like a garden, our soul needs nurturing, care and protection from harsh elements in order to thrive. Things in the world are not easy right now, and we are susceptible to that uneasiness. The truth is we are all affected by what is happening around us, and the energy of each other; in yoga we would say, “What you exhale is what I inhale.” If we don’t want to add to the disturbance, and wish to lessen our own, what can we do to keep our composure when the world around us feels like there is no pocket of calm? Like the gardener who lovingly tends to his roses under the sun, there are some things you can do to take care of yourself so your Spirit doesn’t wilt from the heat:
Weed and Trim: Cut back your interactions with people who are always naysayers or only broadcast the negative. Limit your intake of antagonistic social media and inflammatory news programs that foster fear to get ratings. Get the facts, forget the opinions. This is not denial or keeping your head in the sand, it just means to choose your sources wisely and consciously. You can stay informed without getting inflamed.
Feed and Water: On the physical level, this means eating wholesome foods and staying hydrated. Incidentally, if an occasional sweet makes you feel sweeter (provided it is appropriate for your dietary restrictions, of course), that can be nourishing too. On the soul level, nourishing ourselves can be spending time with those we love, reading a great book in your favorite chair, watching an uplifting film. “Drink in” beauty by spending time with the arts and in nature; these are truly refreshing and feed the mind and spirit.
Daily Maintenance: Like a good gardener, note the temperature to know what needs to be done. Try to balance stillness and activity. Begin a busy day by sitting in silence for five minutes—it can change its trajectory. Starting the day with hurry creates a momentum of harried-ness that probably won’t be constructive. You can’t give from an empty cup—know the points at which you start to tire or become impatient. Allow yourself short breaks to rest and recharge, and your activities will be much more productive. Hectic day tomorrow—plan to get extra sleep. This will enable you to be more present and non-reactive in your interactions, which creates a better outcome for everyone involved.
Sustenance: Do you engage in practices that support your mind/body/spirit connection? Yoga, chi gong, tai chi, meditation, mindfulness (to name a few) have been proven to alleviate stress and create a sense of well-being, and to have true health benefits. Today, there are more options than ever before, at local community and religious centers and even on the internet.
Stop to Smell the Roses: Even when things get tough, something that sparks hope or happiness will often cross our path. When this occurs, take the time to cherish it completely. Being present helps us feel more engaged in our life, and allows us to appreciate the high moments and better manage the low ones. Are you having a great day? Pause, breathe in that joy, exhale gratitude. Gratefulness is a powerful energy. Practicing gratitude is a potent tool for keeping your spirit raised and therefore resilient. Start a gratitude journal: write down a few things, both small (a great parking space) and large (like a loved one, or healing from an illness) that you are thankful for each day. Some days you will have one, some days you will have ten, the number doesn’t matter. As they accumulate, you can’t help but feel you have a life that is full and in bloom.
Dana Maria is a yoga and meditation instructor, and leads spiritual workshops and retreats. Learn more at AccessibleSpirituality.com.
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