Cultivating Your Inner Garden- Harvesting

By Dr Nikki Judge

The weekend gardener prepares for the harvest long before it begins, as when it is time to harvest having things ready make the harvesting easier and takes less time. Even before the major harvest has begun the gardener is checking the garden to see what plants are ready. The summer squash continues to bloom and push out new flowers, pushing for more and more room.

zipline2010 041In our Spiritual Garden of the Soul we need to prepare for our personal harvests. We have to feel we are worthy of that success in order for it to mean something to us; we have to learn to push fears aside, to create an environment that will allow for success. It is the well tended garden that bears the most produce and it is the well tended Spiritual Garden of the Soul that bears the greatest happiness.


The neighborhood gardener has a very tangible reward – literally the fruits of their labor. The time spent stringing beans has resulted is a bounty of long firm beans ready to be put up for winter fare. The summer squashed are harvested almost every day and are offered to neighbors and friends.

In our Spiritual Garden of the Soul we also are seeing our reward. With the work we have done tending our Spiritual Garden our reward is that we are closer to our center and knowing who we are. We have looked inside ourselves – at both the good and the bad and, hopefully, started to make the changes we see that need to be made.

Now we get to enjoy the rewards of tending our Spiritual Garden of the Soul. We know who we are, we know what we want, we know where we are going and we know how we are going to get there. It is through the process of tending our garden that we are able to realize our true bounty and fulfillment.

BiblerMay2010 020Bounty & Fulfillment

The gardener enjoys the bounty of the well tended garden! For the rest of the summer he will enjoy a harvest that fills not only his larder but allows for him to donate a row of food for his local food bank, give to the neighbors and put up plenty of food for several months. Not to mention the pride of nurturing and preparing the garden.

In our Spiritual Garden of the Soul we cannot forget to find the bounty and fulfillment that is there for us! It is in our Spiritual Garden that we reach to find the core of who we are. Knowing our strengths we can celebrate! The trick with Spiritual bounty and fulfillment is that it may come in a manner in which we do not expect. If you are spending all your energy searching for a pre-conceived notion of bounty it is likely you will not feel as abundantly blessed as if you accepted the surprises that come your way.

BiblerMay2010 495Well earned

The gardener surveys their garden plot with a sense of satisfaction. Through his/her efforts the garden has gone from a patch of dirt to a vibrant living thing producing food to support many people. Happy with the obvious results of their efforts the gardener is able to feel secure in a well-earned reward.

We are told over and over that “nothing is for free.” We must note however that it is those things without a price tag have the most meaning. Here is where you can take closure for yourself, reward yourself for doing the work to come back to who you are and knowing what is important to you. You can now relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors and the knowledge of who you are.

Cultivating Your Inner Garden- Weeding, Pruning, and Reviewing

sunflowers (2)By Dr Nikki Judge

This week completes our subsection on an integral part of gardening of any type – Nurturing the Garden.  We’ll look at the deeper work for the both our vegetable gardener and ourselves as gardeners in our Spiritual Garden of the Soul:  Weeding, Pruning, and Reviewing.

Woman With HoeWeeding (pulling out the stuff that is growing that doesn’t belong)

The weekend gardener spends a lot of time removing plants that are growing where they aren’t supposed to; pulling weeds to give the desired plants a better chance to grow.   By weeding the gardener is sure to keep their garden under control

In our Spiritual Garden of the Soul we have to take time do to some weeding every once in a while as well.  When weeding in our Spiritual Garden we have to honest with ourselves.  This is where we look and see what we have done.  What works for us?  What falls apart?  Are our relationships appropriate for us and on the whole positive?  Is it time for us to go inside and see what it is that is holding us back?  Are we getting in our own way?  Just as the gardener looks critically at the garden to weed out the plants that don’t belong we have to do the same in our Spiritual Garden of the Soul.

Pruning, (Cutting out the over-growth and neatening up –especially around the edges)

It is also a time to prune the plants in the garden.  Sapping leaves from the tomatoes need to be removed and plants that are overgrowing their areas need to be pruned back so that sunlight is allowed to ripen the vegetables and berries underneath.  Many gardeners will tell you it doesn’t take long for a plant like squash or melons to take over major space in the garden.

In our Spiritual Garden of the Soul there are times when we need to do a little pruning too.  There are those things about ourselves we need to review and make sure we have under control.  Are we interacting appropriately with others?  Are we trying to inflict our will on them?  Are we stepping up to the plate and acting in accordance with our professed beliefs and values?  Are we acting in a manner that is ethical and caring for our fellow man?  Are there habits that we need to get rid of?  Are we allowing something to take on too much importance in our lives?  As we prune our spiritual garden we must be honest with ourselves.  If there are parts of our lives that are growing out of control it is up to us to prune them back into appropriate shape.

How the garden grows 057What is and isn’t working (keep the good, release the bad) 

The wise gardener uses this time as a way to look clinically at what is going on in the garden.  What plants are doing well?  Which are not growing as fast or large as expected?  Looking at the garden and taking notes the gardener is already preparing for next year’s garden.

Reviewing is a very important part of our tending the Spiritual Garden of the Soul.  It is through reviewing that we are able to see that which lifts us up and, potentially, that which holds us back.  When we review in our Spiritual Garden of the Soul we give ourselves permission to grow and change.  As we go through life it is obvious we change.  Different interests take our time and energy.  Relationships with  others and ourselves ebb and flow.  It is during this review that we allow ourselves to set aside those dreams that no longer call to us so that we may focus on the new potentials and dreams we see before us.

Next week we’ll be looking at one of the best parts of gardening – the harvest!

Cultivating Your Inner Garden- Nurturing, Patience, & Kindness

By Dr Nikki Judge

Continuing with our sub-section on nurturing this week we will focus on three very important factors for both the summer gardener and the gardener of the soul:  patience, kindness, and thinning. Each of these aspects of tending a garden of any type is integral to the garden’s success.

Jardin_a_la_faulx_109Patience (with ourselves, with others and with situations) 

The hobby gardener knows that patience is required when working in their garden.  In the physical garden the gardener has to show patience waiting for the right time to mulch, cultivate or weed.  Through the exercise of patience the gardener knows their plants and what the needs of the plants are.  The gardener learns the individual plants and can better tend them for it.

One of the things we forget to apply to ourselves a lot of the time is patience.  In the Spiritual Garden of the Soul it is important that we apply patience to ourselves as well as granting it to others.  Sometimes we need to exercise patience and give ourselves time to think something through, sometimes it is being patient with ourselves when we are learning a new skill, sometimes it is taking the time to really exercise patience and allow our plans time to come to fruition.

The final factor of patience we need to be aware of in our Spiritual Garden of the Soul and that is patience extending outside of ourselves:  having patience with others and with situations outside of ourselves.  We’ve all been there – that situation where there wasn’t a darn thing we could do but be patient and let it play out; that traffic jam we have no control over requires our patience as well.  The soul that understands patience is truly blessed.

Kindness With Self (being kind may also mean being clinical)

The gardener knows when it is time to take a break and rest sore muscles, pacing themselves so that they are able to continue to care for their garden in the way they want to.  In the Spiritual Garden of the Soul it is important that we are kind with ourselves.  That is not to say that we should be turning away from the lessons we have earned for ourselves.  Sometimes a clinical review is the kindness we need to extend to ourselves.

When something goes wrong in the garden the gardener gets very clinical and has a checklist to go through.  Are there bugs?  Are there molds?  Is the soil ok?  What about the water?  Is there the right amount of light?  When something goes wrong in our lives we should take the time to take a step back and, as best we can, remove the emotionality of the event and see why it happened.  Did we miss warning signs?  Where could we have made other choices?  Were we dealing with people in an appropriate manner?  By being a little clinical with ourselves we can, like the backyard gardener who learns tricks of how to care for the garden, we can find ways to keep the same issues from repeating in our lives.

800px-Sunflower_from_SilesiaThinning (letting people in to different levels) 

Out in the garden are lots of beets and carrots growing.  The gardener makes sure to thin these plants at the appropriate time so that the plants have room to grow.  Plants need appropriate space between each other to grow healthy and strong.  While a nearly overgrown garden looks lush, it is the regulated garden that allows the light of the sun to more of the plant and allows for enough room for the plants to grow.  The properly spaced garden normally bares larger and more vegetables.

In our Spiritual Garden of the Soul we may need to do some thinning in our lives.  Sometimes we grow apart from friends, a little space from a neighbor or coworker would be a welcomed relief, there’s that family member that seems to be a walking talking ball of negativity.  Or a myriad of other descriptions of people who just seem to be rubbing us the wrong way!

Think of personal energy as a bulls eye target.  The innermost circle is us.  The rest of the circles are the various levels of trust and connection we have with others.  Those in our lives may ebb and flow as to whether they are closer or further from our center at one time or another; we can choose how close or how far we are keeping someone and how much we are allowing them to influence us.

Next week we’ll complete our subsection on Nurturing our Spiritual Garden of the Soul with a focus on weeding, choosing courses of actions, and pruning.

Cultivating Your Inner Garden- Nurturing

By Dr Nikki Judge

(c) Commonwealth of Learning

(c) Commonwealth of Learning

Nurturing is a very important part of gardening.  The gardener who gets the best result is the gardener who has nurtured their garden throughout the entire gardening process.  From planning and seed selection to harvest and fall preparations for next spring, the gardener is constantly tending and nurturing the garden.

Nurturing the Spiritual Garden of Your Soul is also something that we need to be aware of.  If we don’t take the time to nurture ourselves how can we know how to nurture others?  Just as the gardener will take the time to nurture the garden so should we nurture ourselves!  As the saying goes:  “We cannot be anything to anyone else until we are something to ourselves;” so what if taking the time to nurture ourselves may feel a little selfish – just remember as with all things balance.

This is a special shout out to those of you that are caregivers of whatever form.  More and more today we are being called upon to care for others – our children, our parents, our spouses, or our friends.  To those that are caregivers in the true sense of the word, in which others depend on you every moment of every day – this section is dedicated to you!

(c) Elucidate

(c) Elucidate

Water (just the right amount)

The gardener gives much consideration to the quality and quantity of the water for their garden.  Many test the water just as they test the soil to ensure the proper nutrients.  Soil is checked for water content.  Is there too much water (are we being overly emotional in our lives)?  Is there too little (are we being cold and standoffish, shifting ourselves away from the people who can help nurture us)?  Or is the water just right (where the balance of energy exchange allows us our growth and development) as we move through the course of our lives?

(c) Priit Tammets

(c) Priit Tammets

Dedication (constant care for the little ones) dreams or plants

One of the gardener’s best and worst times is when the seedlings first appear.  There is always the hope and promise of all the new seedlings (our dreams) in the spring.  However, as they grow they start to fight with one another for space (trying to stretch ourselves too thin), becoming entwined with one another (co-dependency), and the healthier plants crowding out the smaller ones.

In our Spiritual Garden of the Soul we have to make sure that we are taking the time to nurture our dreams and hopes by giving them a chance.  No one can have everything, no one can be everything – we are after all in a human existence – ergo we are fallible.  However, we do have choice and by using it to make the choices that take us in the direction of our dreams.  Prioritization is important.

The gardener must pluck out some of the seedlings to ensure that the remaining plants have plenty of room to grow lush and full.  In our Spiritual Garden of the Soul we must remember that we have to thin out the plethora of ideas ere we turn ourselves in circles trying to do too much at once.  For our thinning we need to allow ourselves the opportunity to thin out all the ideas as to what we really want to do.

(c) Neil Palmer

(c) Neil Palmer

Determination (weeding)

Once the gardener has thinned the garden the next task that is paramount is the gardening chore dreaded by children for thousands of years – weeding.  This takes some knowledge because the difference between a vegetable and a weed can sometimes be misleading, especially in the early stages.  This is the process of removing the weeds (negative thoughts) and ensuring that the plants (thoughts/goals) are not in competition for the nutrients in the soil.

Each step of the process – watering, dedication and determination –  are part of the nurturing a gardener gives to the garden.  We have to remember to nurture our inner garden just as attentively.  Our ideas, our hopes, our dreams are all part of our inner being and deserve to have the best possible chance for happiness and setting the stage for joy in our lives!

Cultivating the Garden of Your Soul- Planting!

By Dr Nikki Judge

editedforsizeWith the knowledge that the “right” garden is the one that is right for you, now it is time to return to the gardener and their work at planting.  While many of us hobby gardeners indulge in Darwinian Gardening (getting the soil ready and then throwing the seeds in and letting nature figure it out) the gardener who is looking for a rich and bountiful garden knows that planting plants at the proper time and in the right place are paramount to success.  Plus planting requires a whole different set of tools than have been used up to now while we were in the planning and preparing stages of gardening.


The good gardener knows the proper time for planting the different types of plants in the garden.  Some are timed to grow in the cool of spring and maybe again in the fall (beets), some need the heat of the full summer sun to bring forth the vegetables to grace the summer table.  We also have to look at timing in our Spiritual Garden of the Soul. In our Spiritual Garden are we making sure that we capitalize on our precious moments?  Are we making sure that we are aware of the importance of time to others?  Are you utilizing the opportunities to be able to see the appropriate times for you to act?


Much energy and forethought are given to the location the gardener selects for each type of plant in the garden.  Peas are placed where they receive the early morning light (brain storming and new thought processes), corn takes center stage to get all the sun possible and the same with tomatoes (emotions and passions).  Onions do better in well drained soil on the high side of the garden while the leafy greens are always placed where they will receive the best water and full sun (romance and love).  We also need to choose the proper location for the components of our Spiritual Garden of the Soul.  The ability to be able to choose the proper location for the components of the garden gives us the ability to decide whom and how close we allow others in our lives.

(c) David Lally

(c) David Lally

Using the Right Tools

The right tool for the right job can make all the difference in the world.  While a shovel is a great tool for moving dirt, it’s not nearly as good as a pitchfork when it comes to pitching hay.  From a planting dibble to the farm tractor, having the right tool for the job is an important part of the gardener’s success.  We too need the right tools in our Spiritual Garden of the Soul.  We need to make sure that we are equipped with the proper tools to be able to create a bountiful harvest for ourselves in our Inner Gardens.

 Whatever those tools may be:  friends, education, intuition, foreshadowing, a place for personal introspection and reflection, processes to deal with difficult situations or actions, these are all tools for our garden.  What tools do you need to make YOUR Spiritual Garden of the Soul the perfect place for you?  You can build tools like a support system (friends or family to help you when you’re down), coping mechanisms (ways to deal with the things that are difficult for you to deal with) and more.

Just as the gardener uses the right tools for each of the jobs in the garden to create a place of beauty and bounty you can build a great toolbox of tools to help you create a life that is filled with joy, happiness and laughter!

Next week we’ll begin the part that most of us need the most help with – nurturing YOUR Spiritual Garden of the Soul.