Time to do a little mental gardening

The garden of our mind

Fall clean-up is well underway and what’s true of the outer world is also true for our inner landscape.

With clearing gardens and planting new bulbs for next year underway, I’m drawn to consider my inner garden, the garden of my mind. Gardeners know clearing away the old and planting bulbs of new potential is key and so it is too with the garden of our minds.

With all that’s going on in the world, it’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit-hole of negativity and get stuck there, casting darkness upon our lives. So many weed thoughts, full of toxicity and prickly thorns, can take over if left unchecked.

Through the mind-body connection, our minds and their prevailing tendencies of thought have a direct bearing on our health and happiness, and how we’re able to contribute to life.

We don’t have to think long or hard to recognize the effects our thoughts have on how we feel and how we experience life.

One negative thought can move us from happy to sad, or peaceful to angry, in a moment. One happy thought can up our vibe and lift our spirits in a jiffy.

The content of my mind used to be a horror-show full of fears, dim forecasts for the future, negative self-talk, and bitchy conversations. I resonated with Anne Lamott when she wrote, “my mind is a bad neighbourhood that I try not to go into alone.”

Freedom for me came when I learned not to believe everything I think, and not take my thoughts so personally. I admit to a time when I believed my thoughts were truth, when in reality many of them were just old, well-used neuropathways from the past, often borrowed from other people.

I felt powerless over my own mind, until I learned that just because I’ve thought a thought, doesn’t mean it’s true. Becoming conscious and aware of our tendencies of thought, without judgment, is a powerful practice. The part about noticing our thoughts without judgment is important.

Mindfulness was key in learning to stand back and become aware of my tendencies of mind, recognizing l had thoughts, but I was not my thoughts. I could then observe them, without getting pulled down the rabbit-hole of thinking, thinking, thinking. My mind became a friendlier place, less over-grown by negativity.

What we focus on increases. We’d never water and fertilize weeds within our garden, yet we so often do this with negative thoughts because they’re stickier. It takes conscious awareness and conscious choice not to abide there.

Choosing to feed uplifting thoughts, and let the gnarly, weed-thoughts wither, changed my perspective on life.

We’re the master of our thoughts; we’re the only ones who can change them. We don’t have to depend on the whims of our thoughts, or the happenings in the world for our happiness. It’s vital we learn to cultivate thoughts and activities that support our health and happiness, and allow us to bring good into the world.

We don’t have to be victim to our thoughts and tendencies of mind. In learning to curiously question our thoughts and weed out those that don’t match who we choose to be in the world, we become empowered. The thoughts we feed and nourish will bear the greatest fruit in our lives, either positive or negative.

This is the perfect time to consciously clear away the old, plant the bulbs of new grown that we want to flower and bear fruit in our lives.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress or to life. We are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 44 years and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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