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The Garden of Life

It was a little over fifteen years ago that I first came to practice yoga, and since taking that first step, my life has never been the same. The practice has lent a continual evolution of change and growth that in the beginning I wasn't even sure was possible.

I am sure you have heard the phrase, "You reap what you sow, so be mindful of the seeds you plant." But for you gardeners out there, you know that it is not just the type of seed you plant to consider. Understanding the environment in which you wish to grow the seed and the needs of the plant are important factors that will affect its growth. Every plant has its own inherent rate of growth, but under optimal conditions, there can also be an acceleration of growth.

I shared a blog with my yoga students not too long ago on the idea of tending to our own gardens (a.k.a. the garden of LIFE); which entails not only being mindful of the seeds we plant, but taking the time to nurture them and along the way remove weeds that can hinder their growth. The longer we go without weeding, the weeds only get bigger, thicker and harder to remove. The weeds also steal valuable nutrients, light and energy that could be available for growth. Simply put, they get in the way.

But I learned something else recently in my own garden. That not only can sporadic weeding make weeding more challenging, but that the weeds can also cover seeds that were planted long ago and either we had forgotten about or never fully realized were even there!

This year I began to notice a group of freesia plants that due to our crazy California weather, were just about to bloom - in the first week of February! When I first noticed the plants, even though it was quite early in the season, I started giving them extra water and pulling out the weeds that were growing through the middle of them. On one weekend I decided to expand the perimeter of where I was weeding and it was then that I noticed a daffodil shoot coming up that I hadn’t seen before. I continued to weed and from one I saw two, from two I saw five, and by the time I was done, there was a cluster of 18 daffodil plants coming up! They were literally being strangled by the weeds that had been covering them and I could almost hear and feel their sigh of relief once the weeds were gone, as they stood in the full light of the sun.

In that moment, I realized that for many of us, we may have planted seeds in our life a long, long time ago and either they were forgotten about or the soil wasn't fertile enough yet to grow. It reminds me of a Zen parable where a group of disciples wanted to grow the most beautiful garden ever. They would lovingly plant the seeds, water and tend to them, but when they did not see any shoots coming up, they would dig up the seed to see what was happening – never allowing the seed to grow! We do this too, in our life and our practice. We either forget that we’ve planted them at all, want to see results right away and our impatience interrupts the inherent cycle of growth, or we plant but don’t bother to weed and tend to the seeds.

But in all things; with love, time and attention; the fruits of our practice will eventually bear.

So even in our most challenging moments, keep weeding!

For you never know when the day will come that you will pull aside a weed and discover the most beautiful part of you coming to light.


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