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Working With Soil, Attending To Soul

--by Gunilla Norris (Jan 19, 2015)

A garden tends to get inside us. If we go there to accomplish something or to get something, the garden soon becomes a burden. With expectations that it must look good or that it has to produce no matter what, we will soon grow tired. The garden is really a place in which we can give ourselves away. This is true of any serious contemplation, too. We are transformed by it. We are reduced and revealed by it. In it we may experience a lived sense of our connection to the earth, to our inner freedom, and to the Sacred, the ground of our existence.

"For me gardening is a process that invites me to be fully engaged. It is also a constant exercise in letting go since so much happens that is not in my control. Strangely this duality seems to cultivate a joy that embraces impermanence and finds refuge in the invisible.
"Gardening brings food and flowers to the table and sustenance to the soul. I am not talking about having a perfect garden. Ours certainly isn't! Weeds are as happy here as are flowers. Bushes get bushier and need trimming. What may start out as an elegant garden plan becomes more haphazard over time. With the years our garden has turned out to be a bit of this and that and always too big to really tend properly.

"From the start this is not the garden I designed. Someone else did, and before that there was a yard of sorts. Coming here to live I have inherited what already was, just as I inherited my parents, my siblings, and my particular time in history. We work with what we are given. That's the real garden. I can't claim anything here. I can only 'be' in the garden, tend it, and further it. Isn't that what we all do, what life asks us to do? [...]

"In my garden while I am digging I am also tilling inner soil. My garden is a place of commitment and of neglect, of arrogance and humility. It is a place of taking stock and of deep silence — a place of contemplation. And so for me over time it has become a place of grace.

"I experience as the particular human being I am. I have no choice about that, but I trust that I am more like other people than not, and that what I find working the soil might also be what others find working theirs. I want to trust that with reverence for the place and awareness of my foibles, I can grow to be more present and a better steward of my small corner of the earth.

Gunilla Norris lives in Mystic, Connecticut, where she works as a writer, meditation teacher, and psychotherapist in private practice. This piece is excerpted from her book A Mystic Garden: Working With Soil, Attending To Soul.

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6 Previous Reflections:

 
On Jan 20, 2015 Mish wrote:

I think of my mind as my garden & like all gardens, we need to remove the overgrowth of weeds to allow our blooms.



On Jan 19, 2015 Paashi wrote:

 Parenting is equivalent to gardening. Nurturing and guiding my offspring through childhood to adolescent brought experiences of arrogance in the sense that I was capable of raising well adjusted and capable and caring adults.  Humility set in as they  faced the challenges of adulthood--- careers , relationships, health and their own parenting roles.  

Working with the soil  provides the therapeutic benefit equivalent to  contemplating the personal experiences and the larger collective global paradigm shifts.  

The silence of the dark moist soil with its life giving nutrients, invisible to the human eye is quite enough to feel the spiritual in the density of the earth.



On Jan 19, 2015 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

 A Garden just like Life goes through growth and dormancy. In life at times we may fully commit to a person, a job, a task, meditation, exercise, a certain place and then many of us enter an ebb times in one or more of those areas. We vaccilate between arrogance & humility in our thoughts or actions. I am deeply aware of my gardener role both in professional life as a Cause Focused Storyteller and personal life as someone seeking to always be mindful of being compassionate and sharing love and kindness. What we plant, we sow. And the seeds we plant may seem so small, but who knows what my sprout and grow, so long as we take the time to plant the seeds and nurture their growth. Story, sharing conversation, listening deeply, being open to everyone, sharing understanding serve as the garden of inner soul. Thank you for a great post! Hugs from my heart to yours.



On Jan 18, 2015 david doane wrote:

In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore refers to the soul as a garden and we are the gardeners.  The soul is our real self, our essence, our sacred being that is a piece of Sacred Being, and we can be committed to tend to it or we can neglect it.  When I tend to it, I listen to me and my body and thinking and heart, and I do well.  When I ignore it, the result is unhappiness.  I took a job once when my heart, guts and dreams told me not to take it, and that job was a negative experience for me personally and financially.  My garden is my self, my personal space and truth, which is connected to the Ultimate Garden and Universal Truth, and it is my responsibility to tend to it, and to my benefit to tend to it.  The planet is also our garden.  We can be humble, which means to get down to earth and realize that we are part of the earth and take care of it, or we can be arrogant and see ourselves as apart from the earth and in our ignorance mistreat and exploi  See full.

In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore refers to the soul as a garden and we are the gardeners.  The soul is our real self, our essence, our sacred being that is a piece of Sacred Being, and we can be committed to tend to it or we can neglect it.  When I tend to it, I listen to me and my body and thinking and heart, and I do well.  When I ignore it, the result is unhappiness.  I took a job once when my heart, guts and dreams told me not to take it, and that job was a negative experience for me personally and financially.  My garden is my self, my personal space and truth, which is connected to the Ultimate Garden and Universal Truth, and it is my responsibility to tend to it, and to my benefit to tend to it.  The planet is also our garden.  We can be humble, which means to get down to earth and realize that we are part of the earth and take care of it, or we can be arrogant and see ourselves as apart from the earth and in our ignorance mistreat and exploit it.  If we are good humble gardeners, we thrive.  If we are negligent irresponsible gardeners, we suffer the price.  We reap what we sow.

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On Jan 18, 2015 Abhishek wrote:

Extending this beautiful metaphor, the edge for me is in dealing with weeds and with the trimming of bushes....who am I to decide what is weed and what is not? Who am I to decide when does a bush need trimming and when it does not?

And if I suspend that decision and enter into inertia, my garden will become wilderness, or it may degenerate....

So what does mindful, natural and yet active 'intervention' look like in this garden space? Is it just watching what grows? Is it spontaneously trimming, trying to listen to what the plant really calls for?

What do I do with the weeds? That one gets to me! Do I welcome the weeds or fight them away? Or do I just sit with them, engage with them and understand why they are here? Why do I choose to label them as 'weeds' and privilege the plants?

Can I just let the garden be? Totally and completely just BE?



On Jan 16, 2015 navin sata wrote:

tilling inner soils=daily introspection day to day life ,just like garden water is must,same way in our spiritual garden introspection and silence are must.in my backyard is my small sanctuary rose garden,veg.garden ,jasmin,are my joy of reflection,i talk to them all the time.and they are always giving joy beauty in return,they are always giving.one of my favorite hymn is [in the garden, he walks with me, and he talks with me and he tells me i am his own] when we bought our home in texas ,with big back yard for kids to play and i dreamed of small rose garden,many seasons of life later,in my corner of world i realize .similarity in garden of nature and garden of life.kids grew up, many people came in our life ,parents ended their this life journey.now in eve. of life i sit on swing and cherish those yesterdays, spring summer fall winter seasons change ,my youth well spent in garden,now i enjoy fruits and flowers,and trees.I gardner will  change soon,but garden will alway  See full.

tilling inner soils=daily introspection day to day life ,just like garden water is must,same way in our spiritual garden introspection and silence are must.in my backyard is my small sanctuary rose garden,veg.garden ,jasmin,are my joy of reflection,i talk to them all the time.and they are always giving joy beauty in return,they are always giving.one of my favorite hymn is [in the garden, he walks with me, and he talks with me and he tells me i am his own] when we bought our home in texas ,with big back yard for kids to play and i dreamed of small rose garden,many seasons of life later,in my corner of world i realize .similarity in garden of nature and garden of life.kids grew up, many people came in our life ,parents ended their this life journey.now in eve. of life i sit on swing and cherish those yesterdays, spring summer fall winter seasons change ,my youth well spent in garden,now i enjoy fruits and flowers,and trees.I gardner will  change soon,but garden will always flourished with hope,joy, love sharing caring.and in these seeds that we plant will  multiply in garden of humanity for eternity.so enjoy your corner of world today . be one with nature. always love  navin

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