We each have different levels of mind – these include our conscious mind, subconscious mind and unconscious mind. The conscious mind is like the gardener – the one that plants the seeds. It’s where we can direct our focus and use analysis and logic. Our subconscious and unconscious mind can be thought of like the garden or soil into which the seeds germinate and grow.
The conscious mind is the gardener taking action but the subconscious and unconscious mind is where things happen and where our memories and past experiences are stored. These can be recent memories ready for recall, or deeply buried memories.The unconscious mind will contain memories that have been repressed through trauma or those that have simply been consciously forgotten and are no longer important to us (automatic thoughts). It’s from these memories and experiences that our beliefs, habits, and behaviors are formed.
It’s believed that the nonconscious mind (subconscious and unconscious) is in control of approximately 95% of your day and will act upon any requests or instructions that you give it – it can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s imagined. You can ‘plant’ whatever seeds you want and the soil returns back to you whatever you’ve given it – so if we’re sowing negativity or limiting thoughts and beliefs into the soil, that’s the results it will return to us and we’ll get to experience in our lives.
In contrast, if we plant positive thoughts and actions, it’s likely that we’ll experience positive results. The land will return whatever is planted and cultivated. In the words of the Buddha “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become”.
The impact of this is that whatever we put into our minds – whatever messages and fuel we are ‘feeding’ it with – is what it has to work with and will focus on. So whether we’re focusing on what’s ‘wrong’ – what’s not working, what’s broken or needs ‘fixing’ etc, or whether we’re putting positive thoughts and intentions about what we can accomplish and achieve and what’s going well in our lives, then it’s likely our ‘harvest’ and rewards will reflect each of those different realities. We literally ‘reap what we sow’.
At the end of last year, I was privileged to spend two weeks in one of Mother Nature’s largest gardens – the Amazon Rainforest in Peru. I stayed with indigenous Indians and native Shaman from the Shipibo Tribe and I also learnt about campaigns and projects that are happening within the Amazon Jungle to protect the land rights of the tribes and people that live there. I observed at first hand projects that are introducing permaculture and sustainability to preserve the traditional ways of the indigenous people and to protect the rivers and rainforest from de-forestation and chemical contamination by oil drilling campaigns.
I also learnt about the ancient wisdom that is passed down from generation to generation amongst the native Shaman and Indians and how they profoundly believe that it’s our consciousness that forms our reality – whatever we think, we become. In these tribal cultures, it’s the Shaman’s job to ‘cure’ a patient from their physical and emotional ills, simply by working with that person’s field of consciousness and clearing or extracting any false or limiting beliefs or imprints within their consciousness that are creating or manifesting as imbalance or ‘dis’ease.
Whilst staying in the midst of the jungle and observing nature in all it’s wild and abundant glory, I marvelled at the amazing ecosystem that existed between all the varieties of animals, insects, plants, soil, nutrients and other living organisms that live in harmony together. I also realised and witnessed how easily this balance can become disrupted and affected if conditions change.
As humans, we also have the need to preserve and maintain this delicate balance – by learning to tend our inner and outer gardens.
We need to ensure that we live our lives in a way that protects and promotes a healthy ecology. Whether that’s on an individual level, or within a team, or organisational level (or even beyond that on a collective national and global level), there’s a prime need for us all to cleanse and purify the ‘soil’ of our lives, fertilise it with good nutrients to restore and renew our inner and outer terrain so that we create the healthiest and optimum conditions for thriving.
We can view our mindset, beliefs and behaviours and the outcomes that these produce for us in life by exploring our own personal and collective ecologies. We can assess the current quality of the terrain in which we live and work to see how healthy it is and what we need to do to maintain and improve it.
Plus evaluate how can we optimise its condition to get a bumper harvest of abundance, opportunities and personal or professional growth if we fertilise and feed it with nutrients and other ingredients that will encourage anything that grows in that soil to do well and prosper.
Using this ‘gardening’ analogy, on a practical level we can achieve this level of growth and health by moving through a continuous cycle in our lives:
Stage 1 – ‘Pest’ Control
- Regularly pull up weeds and cure pests and disease. This means that every day, we can consider our thoughts, actions and behaviours and ask ourselves whether they’ve been healthy and coming from a place of love and wholeness, where we feel expansive and excited to create new opportunities and embrace new possibilities. Or are we living in a state of ‘dis’ease and ‘contamination’ – where we’re coming from a place of fear and wanting to protect and control everything in our lives – maybe wanting to keep everything contracted and limited to maintain the status quo, rather than seeking or being open to growth and change?
- ‘Pestilience’ in our every day lives occurs when we’re operating from a mindset or view of the world where we’re full of false beliefs, resentments, grudges and hurts and maybe unwilling or afraid to look at this – not wanting to question or see any lies or limitations we may be telling ourselves about how life is or how life works. By living like this, we often keep ourselves ‘small’ and place restrictions on what we can do and what we can achieve in our lives on some level.
- It’s vital to ‘weed’ and tend to our inner garden regularly and consistently. To question and challenge our thoughts, beliefs and behaviours to assess what is no longer working for us and producing lacklustre or undesirable results and uncover those limitations so that we can bring awareness to them and choose to change our perspective to something more empowering.
Stage 2 – Planting
- Once we’ve uncovered what’s keeping us limited or stuck (on an individual and organisational level), we can then consciously choose to let go of these limitations and plant healthy ‘seeds’ and new possibilities instead.
- This can involve cultivating practices like mindfulness and gratitude – pausing regularly to note what we’re grateful for in our lives, in our relationships and in nature or in the world. Gratitude is the ‘ultimate state of receivership’ – science has proved that at an atomic level, we’re composed of space and atoms (an adult human is made up of 7 octillion atoms on average) – so if these atoms are vibrating in a state of gratitude, coherence and harmony and we can find things in our life and in the world that we can be thankful for, it means we’re more likely to pull good things into our personal and collective universes and attract more of the same that matches that positive vibration. In contrast, if we’re focused on the bad and what’s not good – the ‘pestilence’ – then we’re very likely going to attract more of that into our lives instead!
- This also means being very ‘intentional’ in our lives. Rather than being a victim of other people and circumstances that may or may not be beyond our control, we can choose who we want to be and how we want to be and then ensure that our words, behaviours and actions are all in integrity and alignment with that. If we’re in a relationship or in a team, we can look at the impact that we have on others and choose to modify this if necessary to create the outcomes and produce more of the good feelings that we desire.
- We need to take particular care in nurturing vulnerable new growth and new shoots – tending those baby seedlings with care. When we’re embarking on something new, it can feel strange and unnatural as our brains are firing and wiring together new neural networks and we’re possibly letting go of old habits and behaviours that were ‘running us’, but not serving us very well. Other people may also feel threatened by any changes that we make – especially if that challenges their own sense of self, so they may try to thwart and discourage us as a result of their own limited thinking or fears. So we have to really get clear on our purpose and have clarity about the ‘why’ that is driving us, as that is what will help us to stay on this new path of growth that we’ve chosen, despite potential opposition or any setbacks that may occur.
- We need to choose new ‘resilient’ seeds – those that are likely to flourish and plants that we love and want to enjoy in our lives. Plants that we know are resilient and likely to thrive and do well in OUR particular type of soil (not someone else’s soil) – just as in nature different types of plants do well in acid or alkaline soil, in full sunshine or shade etc. We have to develop self-awareness and understand what brings us contentment and fulfilment and which actions or seeds are most likely to help to support this – not what someone else might choose to plant in their garden which may require different seeds and different conditions to thrive. Change and growth that is intrinsically motivated (the desire comes from within us and is not imposed by others or based on us seeking external approval) is more likely to be transformative and long-lasting.
Stage 3 – Pruning and Maintenance
- Just like gardening, we need to constantly prune and cut out the dead wood and dead head those plants that have flowered and are past their prime. So in our lives and work, we need to continually revisit our purpose, keep coming back to our WHY? and gain clarity about why we’re doing what we’re doing. This will ensure that our actions, behaviours and habits are all moving us in the right direction and we can prioritise what matters most and make a conscious choice to delegate, or even let go of the rest.
- We need to invest our time and energy wisely as both are precious resources. This requires us to get good rest, good nutrition and ensure we exercise and move our bodies to keep them in optimum condition. It may involve us learning to say ‘no’ to those activities that deplete us and becoming more discerning about which invitations and opportunities we say yes to.
- Plants that get parched dry out and die. Similarly, the average adult human body is comprised of 60% water – so it’s important to keep ourselves well hydrated and drink sufficient water to keep us healthy and alert and give our bodies the nutrients, foods and liquids that it requires to function well.
- If we carry on tending and feeding and fertilising the soil regularly, it will help to grow healthy, strong and flourishing plants. So by feeding and nourishing the ‘soil’ of our lives and continuing to be grateful for what is working well we can draw more of that towards us.
- We can cultivate our curiosity and ask insightful questions. What fires us up and gets us motivated? What helps us to feel cherished? How can we delight our senses? What will increase our feeling of wellbeing and satisfaction? It often doesn’t require a big change but small tokens of appreciation and kind gestures (towards ourselves or others) can have a big impact.
- How can we introduce more feelings of contentment? What can we do in our life to be able to ‘smell the roses’ more? This could literally be having fresh flowers in our house or on our desk at work, or trying a new exercise routine or going for a lunchtime walk twice a week and choosing a new route each time to explore something new. Or making a commitment to cook two new healthy and delicious recipes a week to introduce new flavours and tastes into our life.
- Additionally, we can continue with the daily pruning and weeding out of anything that no longer serves us. This can include checking in at the end of each day with our thoughts and mindset and asking ourselves whether our ‘inner voice’ has been helpful or harmful? Were we kind and compassionate with ourselves or critical? What could we have done differently? By consistently evaluating this, we can get back on track when there’s been a setback and recommit to making progress and moving towards our goals and desires each and every day.
Stage 4 – Reaping the ‘Harvest’
- This is when everything that we’ve prepared for creates a bountiful harvest and we receive the good opportunities and inner and outer abundance in our lives. By regularly tending and maintaining our gardens with conscious thought, positive intentions and productive actions and behaviours on our part, we will then reap dividends in our lives and work. We can finally enjoy the fruits of our labours and benefit from the harvest that it brings us.
- We need to regularly check-in with ourselves at an individual, team and organisational level to maintain this growth and also to consider what new plants we need to or want to cultivate to ensure an even bigger bumper crop in the coming years!
- And like most good gardeners, when we enjoy and love what we’re doing and what we’re producing, we’re then passionate about sharing our wisdom and top tips for growth and success and how we’ve achieved what we’ve achieved with others – which creates ongoing positive ripple effects in our own and others’ lives.
If you’d like help as an individual, team or organisation, to evaluate your own ‘ecology’ and see how this can be improved to create the optimum conditions for flourishing and thriving, then please get in touch and we’ll be delighted to support you. Please visit MindFlame’s Coaching and Mentoring, Consultancy Services or Training and Development pages for further information.
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