Stay on the bright side of your garden.
Satsangs with Swami Niranjanananda are always food for the soul. Satsang means to sit together and share in truth. In his recent satsang a simple yet useful and encouraging statement was shared. ‘Stay on the bright side of your garden’, it still resonates like an echo.
The garden is a metaphor for our human nature. Our nature is the foundation of our existence and it is like a garden. There are a variety of plants to nurture and grow, removal of weeds and pests and all the effort that goes into creating the right conditions for it to thrive and ultimately express its bounty and beauty in life.
The challenge of working with our human nature, much like with a garden is managing the conditions that arise daily that either harm or support it. Having the skill to observe your garden closely and the motivation and impetus to severe the weeds are important. With a steady yoga practice the weeds can gradually be removed allowing more space for our inherent potential to express.
By reflecting on a few questions we can begin to analyse and see clearly where our work lies.
We can ask ourselves - What compost do I feed my garden? This involves checking the quality of our thoughts; how many times in the day did I have negative thoughts, aggressive responses, express dis-satisfaction? This requires self awareness and self analysis and a good dose of self honesty. It takes time, patience and practice to get to know our minds, without getting overly obsessive about it or giving up because it’s too confronting. Yoga is not a quick fix, but a slow marination of practice embodiment that gives you the energy to continue the work. Having succumbed many times to the weeds and shadows of negative thoughts yoga has bought me patience when it comes to getting to know my mind and the way to ‘be-friend’ it.
What is the compost that I feed my garden with each day? Daily mantra chanting is the compost for our sankalpa (innermost calling) to manifest in life. Mantra feeds the subtle mind and body with its vibrational nutrition. A daily chanting practice does not have to be long or complicated. A simple mantra such as the Gayatri mantra, chanted 11 times, takes about 5 minutes. This is most effective when done upon waking up, while still in bed, with your eyes half open and half of you still in that drowsy state. In this state there are less mental filters and the subconscious mind is receptive to receive and act on it.
We can ask ourselves - How do I deal with the weeds in my garden? Those negative forces that rear up and cause spikes in the mind through-out the day, throwing us out of balance. One way is to develop the witness quality, the ability to observe internally - what is going on in the mind without entangling ourselves in that content. This quality once embodied, acts like a neutralizing agent, de-escalating harmful thoughts before they convert into action.
When faced with a decision, we can ask ourselves two simple questions three times to help us simpilify our needs and clarify what it is we want. Ask yourself, “Do I really need it?’ “Do I really need it?”,”Do I really need it?” - 3 times, and if the answer is yes, yes, yes, then go for it! The same with wanting something. “Do I really want it?”,”Do I really want it”?, “Do I really want it”? If the answer is mixed with yes and no, then it could be something you could manage without - there is a difference between a need and a want. Knowing that difference is what having discrimination is all about.
So, with these simple reflection questions you can get to know yourself and the patterns of your mind more easily. Through this self analysis known as jnana yoga you come to understand the facets of your nature and how they ultimately determine the garden of your life. After-all you want to enjoy your garden, as a place that brings contentment and allows you to connect with the beauty of life.
Nature provides us with so many valuable lessons, we just need to stop and smell her fragrance and allow that to awaken within us the desire to live more fully and to stay on the bright side of our garden.
Aum shanti - Pragyadhara