Cultivating the Garden of Your Soul- Planting Time!

By Dr Nikki Judge

The right garden is the one that is right for YOU!

177 - CopyThe gardener now takes the time survey their garden.  The garden has been properly planned and the soil is ready to receive the seeds that will soon be sprouting with bright green hope for a future harvest.  The gardener now goes back to the earlier planning of deciding what to plant and finalizes mapping out what is going to be planted where.  Each plant has a preference for full sun, partial, full shade, etc. and these genetic prerequisites dictate where the plants should go in the garden for the greatest success.  But the gardener – having chosen the plants for the garden – is planting the garden that is right for them.

042Choices

In our Spiritual Garden of the Soul it is time for you to begin making the choices that are right for you!  As the gardener gets to choose their favorite veggies to plant, the spiritual gardener knows that we get to make choices that are right for us.  Now this doesn’t mean we get to dispense with reality – as the gardener is constrained by the genetics of the seed so are we constrained by the reality of the physical world.

Imagine YOUR Spiritual Garden of the Soul.  Do you prefer a formal garden like those around castles or is your garden more free form?  Is it filled with roses (family)?  Herbs (friends)?  Veggies (good health)?  A mix?  What pleases you?  What makes you comfortable (financial security/emotional security)?  Do you prefer a rigid straight row structure or do you come close and call it good (where you don’t have to make many major choices/you feel confident making choices)?  You can make it anything you want to be – it is YOUR garden!

 1686516Appreciate & Accept

In our Spiritual Garden of the Soul we want to plant it with those things that will bring us joy, challenge us, teach us, and allow us to experience the life we are living in a positive and uplifting way.  In order to do that we have to be able to appreciate and accept that not everything is sunshine (happiness) and lollipops (good times); we each have our own rain (problems).  Part of the purpose of the Spiritual Garden of the Soul is to help develop and grow a happy and fruitful life for ourselves…if we don’t do it just who is going to?

BiblerMay2010 131Decisions

Once the gardener has reviewed their garden plot, checked their earlier goals and selections, they are now ready to make the final decisions as to exactly what their garden is going to be.  We have to make decisions about our Spiritual Garden of the Soul as well.  We have to look at the choices we have found available for us and decide what we want to grow in our Spiritual Garden of the Soul.  Remember…what you plant in your Spiritual Garden of the Soul is going to have a direct impact on your life so it is worth the effort to take the time to review choices and make decisions that make YOUR Spiritual Garden of the Soul the right garden because it is truly the one that is right for YOU!

Next week we will look at the second piece of our Planting phase – Timing, Location and Using the Right Tools.

Cultivating Your Inner Garden- Preparing the Soil

By Dr Nikki Judge

(c) Adam Jones

(c) Adam Jones

After the gardener has tilled their garden they still are not quite ready to start the planting.  Final preparations of the soil are needed.  Many gardeners spread compost over the garden prior to tilling.  If there is old growth it needs to be pulled and thrown into the compost pile so that the breaking down of materials in the compost pile will help to feed the soil when this working compost is tilled into the garden next year.  This way the gardener knows that nutrients are being returned to the soil in a way that enables the plants to grow healthy and strong.

Composting The Old:  The compost pile – yes – that pile of odoriferous sometimes steamy stuff in the back of grandma’s garden – has a spiritual connection as well.  Just as the compost pile has an important part in the garden, we have our compost in our Spiritual Garden of the Soul.  A compost pile stinks frankly because things are rotting, what was once living is now dead and breaking down.  But it is from the nutrients created in that breaking down and rotting that helps create the fertile environment of the gardener’s soil.

The negativity we encounter during a day, our fears, our doubts, and more are so much compost in our lives.  Just as what is thrown into the compost pile ends up serving a valuable service for the healthy garden, we must properly learn to deal with the compost of our lives.  We all have a Spiritual Compost Pile!  It’s where we keep all those fears, doubts, and loneliness; our failures and unrealized but broken dreams.  These create our spiritual compost pile.

(c) Deutsche Fotothek‎

(c) Deutsche Fotothek‎

Reviewing Your Past Results: Just as the farmer has to turn the compost and stir up  the various peelings, rotting veggies, half eaten fruit (and other things that can no longer be identified) to have the compost ready for the garden, we need to review our successes. Yes – it’s always fun to review what comes out right and it is a great way to get successful results again; however, we can also learn much, if not more, through our mistakes and missteps.  Looking over them is important.  But getting stuck and dwelling on those issues- maybe not so much!

There is a big difference between dwelling on a mistake and looking at it to see where the lesson is.  It is much easier to remove the negativity that is brought into our Garden of the Soul with doubts and fears.  While some doubts and fears are normal the problems arise if we hold on to them too long.  Much like the gardener who isn’t mindful of how big the compost pile is getting, our Garden of the Soul can become overrun with negative thoughts, doubts and fears, inadequacies and, a feeling of disconnect from the human race (others) and our faith.

(c) Becks

(c) Becks

Making Room for the New: The good gardener keeps a sharp eye on the compost pile.  Even the pleasant distraction of a visit from family for a few days can mean totally altered compost pile once you return to your gardening duties. Adjustments must be made and some of the kitchen veggie scraps may need to be withheld for a time so that the new matter doesn’t overrun the pile and change its chemistry.  With a judicious eye the gardener watches the compost pile to make sure it doesn’t outgrow its appointed space; that its chemistry is kept to the right Ph level; adding other components such as dirt; making sure that that the right things are kept for the compost bucket, and that the trash is thrown out as it should be.

In our Garden of the Soul we need to make sure we are good gardeners as well!  Once we have looked at an issue or problem we have experienced it is time to forgive ourselves the mistake (if there is one), take the lesson, incorporate it as we go forward and, most importantly, gently let go of any additional negativity the event has brought us.

Just as the gardener has to be judicious about what is kept for compost and what is thrown in the trash, we have to be as well.  In order to truly be able to release that part of the experience which no longer serves us we have to know what part from the experience does serve us.  By an honest review and judicious reflection we are able to discern which is which.  Once that is done we can release our limitations and grasp our future with both hands.

Join us next week as we move into every gardener’s favorite season- planting!

Cultivating the Garden of Your Soul- Aerating Your Soil

By Dr. Nikki Judge

You see the serious gardener every spring tilling the soil for their garden.   Tilling the soil breaks it up, softens it so that roots can grow strong and create a good feeding system for the plant, allow for proper hydration of the plant, and create the best environment possible for the plants to grow strong and bountiful.

By tilling the soil the gardener ensures that the seeds or plants will have the best chance to take root and grow.  We need to pay the same attention to the Garden of our Soul.  Our soul inhabits our bodies… so it is important to take care of our bodies so that we can enjoy the benefits of our soul’s connection to it.

(c) Mike Baird

(c) Mike Baird

Exercise:  You don’t have to run a marathon or climb Mount Everest!  Exercise is important to all of us but you need not join a gym or buy fancy equipment. You can exercise in a relatively small space.  Current indicators are that in order to maintain a healthy body we need to walk the equivalent of five miles a day.  Five miles works out to be just about 10,000 steps for the average person.  Whether you do chair exercises due to limited mobility or you are prepping to run a marathon or climb mountains exercise is key to helping connect our ethereal self with our outer self.  Regular exercise helps to improve breathing and release endorphins.  Many people use time exercising to look within, think about issues or problems, or plan fun times ahead.

2048px-Yoga4Love_Freedom_GratitudeYoga:   An ancient form combining exercise, breathing, and meditation to help create a clear mind and strong, healthy body to contain the soul.   With traditions dating back to its roots over 5,000 years there are different types of Yoga but they all focus on the essential point of keeping the body, mind and spirit connected in a positive and health promoting way.  Yoga’s ancient forms and movements were designed over millennia to help encourage a strong connection.  Yoga itself is not a religion but a tradition passed down from teacher to student through practical demonstration.  For those who chose to share their workout with others Yoga is a great consideration as you will be with others who are trying to raise their spiritual awareness and connection as well.

(c) S Pakhrin

(c) S Pakhrin

Dance:  Dancing is a great way to exercise!  Whether you perform the regulated steps of a Tango or indulge yourself in boogying down to your favorite song moving to the rhythm is an awesome way to connect.  It is easy to lose yourself in the tempo of the music, thoughts floating on the music while your body sways and moves to the inner voice.  When you lose yourself in that way you are in a meditative state… the repetitive movements help induce a deeper connection, the music seems to connect directly to the brain and you float on the music… another form of connecting to your inner self – your soul self.

Move!  We are spiritual beings experiencing a human existence.  By moving…walking, working out, swimming, playing, dancing, or practicing yoga – moving for us is essentially doing the same thing that tilling the soil does for the gardener.  By knowing our bodies and keeping them healthy as possible through exercise of whatever type we are strengthening our connection to our inner self.  You don’t have to climb mountains, swim the English Channel or spelunk down into the deepest of caves – unless you want to.

It only takes 30 days to instill a habit – good or bad.  Start today!  Whatever your shape – it’s the shape you are in…and only you can change that….for good or ill.  Join a Tai Chi class, start a walking group or walk with others that you know.  Take the time to get to know your body … get up and make it move!  The healthier the outer body, the healthier and stronger your connection can be.  Like the gardener wanting to prepare the soil so that the roots can grow deep and strong the spiritual gardener must “aerate” (exercise) their “soil” (body) to strengthen the connection with the soul.

Please join us next week where we discuss final preparations before it’s planting time for your Spiritual Garden of the Soul!

Cultivating the Garden of Your Soul- Deciding What to Plant

Any Garden Takes Planning 

(c) Si Griffiths

(c) Si Griffiths

A garden does take planning – more than we sometimes give credence to. A good gardener knows where to plant each vegetable strain they are planting. Many draw out their gardens over the winter measuring to scale where they are going to put what. Seed packets, books and internet articles are searched to find the best information on how to get the most out of your garden. It helps to know what you are planting when you have to do this type of planning.

Looking At the Condition of Your Soil – Reviewing Past Successes and Failures 

In the physical world this is where a lot of hobbyist gardeners try to remember what did well last year. Did the broccoli go to flower before it got big enough to harvest? What was it that got to the beans last year? Whatever it was it must have eaten well! Did the deer fence work? Would it have worked better if it had been put up earlier? Do the perennials look like they are going to make it? Maybe it would be a better idea to move the corn to the other end of the garden this year? These are just a very small example of the questions a gardener can face in their planning phase.

In our virtual garden of the soul we have to do the same. This is a very difficult task for some while for others is it a simple exercise. What do you have to look at when you are reviewing for the garden of your soul? For each person it will be different, but essentially your quest is the same as the gardener. You have to look at your past which is sometimes an uncomfortable thing to do.

The process one needs to undergo, however one chooses to do so, is to do what is sometimes referred to as “playing onion.” This is where you take the time to peel back the layers of your personality and self, layer by layer, and being brutally honest with yourself about what has been working for you and what hasn’t. Remember, lying to yourself here is the ultimate in self-destruction and sure to kill your dreams before you start them.

(c) Stan Shebs

(c) Stan Shebs

However, completely redesigning isn’t necessary, but reviewing your past to look at your successes and your failures allows you the opportunity to prevent making the same kinds of mistakes in the future. The serious gardener tests the soil every year to make sure that the appropriate nutrients are available in the soil. In the inner garden of your soul you want to make sure that the past is reviewed so that you know how to prevent yourself from making the same mistakes again – thus allowing a “fertile” soil for you to plant your dreams in.

Plot Your Garden Space: 

When you are growing your own food square footage is extremely important. You want to maximize the space that you have to get the best results possible. There are strings aplenty all over the northern hemisphere, busy helping gardeners plot out flower and vegetable gardens. By allowing the right amount of space for each plant the gardener’s yield is maximized.

 In our virtual garden it is important to clear away that which does not work so that we can focus on what does work. By being honest with yourself about the condition you are in, you can then dig in with confidence and till the soil in your garden of the soul. By releasing fears and doubts we can enrich the soil of our Inner Garden and create a better garden plot. As we forgive ourselves we create room in our garden plot for our next phase: Goals, Dreams, and Needs!

Ways to Participate in the Cultivate the Garden of Your Soul Series:

*Visit Love Dr Nikki on Oranum.com for thoughtful conversations and classes.
*Follow Love Dr Nikki on FaceBook and enjoy uplifting essays, beautiful images, and inspiring quotes.
*Check back with this blog weekly for updates.

It’s Gardening Season- Are You Cultivating the Garden of Your Soul?

(c) Susiesuechasetheclouds

(c) Susiesuechasetheclouds

Gardens Can Heal Families and Ourselves!

A few years back my daughter and I went through a pretty rough time in our relationship. We were both being stubborn and hard on one another. We went a year without even talking to one another – never underestimate the stubbornness that can erupt between mother and daughter. I thought back and remembered when I was in the same position with my mother. Years ago Mom and I had worked out our differences together while I helped her and my step-dad build their Alaskan dream.

Over the winter my daughter and I made some headway with our relationship but it was still strained. That spring when it was time to start gardening my daughter and I had a talk. We committed to using the garden as a way to work on our relationship – and work we did! The harvest that fall was so very bountiful…we took literally thousands of pounds of food out of that garden and my daughter and I’s relationship was (and is) better than it had ever been!

The healing aspects of gardening can be both physical and/or metaphorical. Over the next 12 weeks we will be presenting a series of short articles focusing on the spiritual garden within to help you create a vibrant, healthy and beautiful inner garden where your innermost self can retreat and rejuvenate. We’ll show you how dreams can be made into reality, how you can change your life, or protect what you have. Through a deeper understanding of ourselves we are granted a greater understanding of the relationships we have with those around us.

Create the Inner Garden For YOUR Soul.

(c) Wendy Cutler

(c) Wendy Cutler

Spring is starting to warm the ground here in western Montana and the farmers and gardeners have already begun work tilling the soil and planting seed for the hardy cool weather crops. Backyard gardeners are tilling, turning, hauling and working to create beautiful yards full of flowers and garden patches full of fruits and vegetables! Greenhouses are starting to become full with flowers and shrubs to be planted. Spring’s renewal has once again begun.

By developing and creating your inner garden you gain a deeper knowledge of yourself and how you interact with the world around you. This understanding will be gained through creating a virtual garden – somewhere you can care for your emotional self, find happiness within yourself and create fertile ground for your dreams. We’ll take you through the steps to create a beautiful inner garden – a place from which you can make choices and decisions that are best for you!

Join Us On a Gardening Journey…

Focused specifically on creating a positive place within, this series is sure to bring a new clarity to your perception of yourself and the outer world around you. We’ll take you through our processes of creating a garden of the soul by deciding what to plant, cultivating the soil, planting, nurturing, and harvest you will understand that you are worthy and have earned your harvest. Come along with us as we follow the late spring and summer seasons and learn how to make positive change in your life!

Ways to Participate:

*Visit Love Dr Nikki on Oranum.com for thoughtful conversations and classes.
*Follow Love Dr Nikki on FaceBook and enjoy uplifting essays, beautiful images, and inspiring quotes.
*Check back with this blog weekly for updates.