“A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”
– James Allen, As Man Thinketh
Each one of us has our own secret garden. It blossoms in the hidden landscape of the mind, unique to its environment with only one gardener to tend it – you. This secret garden (secret in that it takes many lifetimes to fully explore its vastness), expresses its brilliance through our words, actions, and character in the external world.
We can tell if someone is an accomplished gardener of their secret garden based upon the quality of this person’s life, their character, and the relationships this person has with others. We can also tell if someone is not an accomplished gardener of their secret garden in that this person’s life is always full of problems, he/she has a dubious character, and there are many conflicts in this person’s relationships with others.
In saying this it is no surprise that many people strive to become conscious gardeners of their mind. When quality of life and positive experiences are guaranteed by tending to one’s mind, why wouldn’t anyone dedicate an hour each day in taking care of their secret garden? I believe the reason people don’t is because many people don’t know how to. This is why I wrote this article. My intent is to show such people how to become conscious gardeners of the mind. I hope that it helps you to also improve your quality of life and encourage positive experiences.
The first step is approaching the mind in a new way. The mind, both conscious and subconscious, is very fertile – in fact, it is the most fertile thing on earth. Whatever you put into it grows, without exception, and what we put into the mind are our thoughts, which are like seeds. Each thought will grow in our mind, regardless of whether we are conscious of it or not. If we are unconscious of a thought we have, this thought will sprout a few experiences in our life that will reflect its presence, but these experiences will be so minute that we will ignore its relevance.
One such example is running late to meet a friend of lunch. When you arrive you lie to your friend and say your bus was running 15 minutes late. Together you complain about the inefficiency of public transport. For you, this would be considered a “little white lie” but the question you would need to ask yourself would be – why lie at all? Here a thought is making itself conscious, but it is so small that you ignore it. What thought could it be? Many, including “if I am late my friend may not like me” or “I can’t have anyone think I am not perfect” or “it is always someone else’s fault.”
These little subconscious thoughts affect us at little levels, but when a thought becomes conscious then it has greater influence over us. A thought that is conscious, in that we think about it over and over again, soon becomes deeply rooted in our mind. When this occurs this thought grows a pervasive root system and develops a strong trunk, thus symbolising the strength of the thought and its transformation into a belief.
This transformation is dependent on repetitive thinking, which is like watering a plant. The more you water it, the stronger it grows. As such a belief is a thought that has grown stronger over time due to repetitive thinking, and is very difficult to shift. Like a strong plant in the external world, its roots and trunk make it unshakable in the fertile soil of the mind. Such a strong plant eventually bears fruit that we reap, which can damage or nourish us. Good fruit comes from good plants, and poor fruit come from sickly plants. Or, good life experiences come from good beliefs, and poor life experiences come from poor beliefs.
So how do we reap good life experiences and improve our quality of life? Here is a simple guide that covers four key areas of becoming a conscious gardener of the mind.
1. Learn to weed.
Weeding requires pulling our thoughts and beliefs that are no longer welcome in your mind. Thoughts are easier to pull out because their root systems are not yet pervasive and their trunks are still fragile. You can start weeding out thoughts by becoming conscious of a thought you do not want. When you recognise such a thought, simply pull it out of the mind and replace it with a positive thought seed. If the belief is so embedded in the mind that you cannot pull it free, this is where hypnosis will be highly beneficial. Using the power of hypnotic suggestion this belief’s root system can be weakened and, over time, easier to pull out like the weed it is.
2. Learn to fertilise.
The best fertiliser for the mind is affirmations – ‘the fake it until you make it’ approach. When we use positive affirmations (also known as self-talk) on a daily basis we allow the best kind of fertiliser to enrich the mind and keep it healthy for thought seeds and belief plants to grow and blossom. Affirmations may include the popular “I love and accept myself as I am”, or be specific, “I am a competent student of high achievement.” We don’t have to believe in this affirmation yet, over time and repetition this affirmation will solidify into a belief.
3. Learn to sow.
Each thought is a seed. When we are conscious of the thoughts we want to plant, we need to learn to sow them in the fertile soil of the mind so that these thoughts have a good chance of growing into strong belief plants. To do this we need to practice the art of sowing. We simply cannot scatter these thoughts around the mind without care; we need to find a special place to plant them so we know where to tend to them. This means choosing a thought to sow in a specific area of your mind i.e. your life. If we want to be a competent student, it will not benefit us to plant this thought seed in our love life area. No, we need to dedicate a sacred space for our education only. Here we will know where to place its own unique fertiliser when we perform affirmations or meditate within it garden walls.
4. Learn to reap.
An accomplished gardener always looks at the health of the fruit or flowers to determine the health of the plant. Sickly fruit or flowers denote a sickly plant, and unless this plant can be tended back to health with fertiliser and care, it will need to be weeded out. Look at your life as it is. What are you reaping? What does this fruit or flower (experience) tell you about the health of your plant (belief)?
As you can see the mind requires a lot of tending. This is what many spiritual practices, such as yoga, meditation, and prayer have promoted throughout the centuries so that we could improve our quality of life. When we are unconscious, our secret garden will become overgrown and our life will be one challenge upon another, full of confusion, lack of energy, and loss of goals. However, when we are conscious, our secret garden is well maintained and its blossoming radiates from us so that we carry our garden’s beauty into our external world.
Now that you know the four key areas of becoming a conscious gardener of your mind, I look forward to hearing about all the beautiful fruits and flowers blossoming in your secret garden. The more people become conscious of what they are planting in their fertile minds, the more likely the world will become balanced, healthy, and productive. Remember, the mind is fertile, thoughts are powerful, and beliefs are strong – choose them wisely, tend to them lovingly, and reap the bounty of your efforts.