For the past few months I have been fixated on the word “Cultivate”. It all started with a notebook that just called out to me. It has a beautiful floral cover with the word CULTIVATE across the front. I began to think about what that word means. According to Google:
1. Prepare and use (land) for crops or gardening
2. Try to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill)
I’m not sure if it is my obsession with gardening that drew me to the word or if it was the idea of trying to acquire or develop. Whatever it was that originally grabbed my attention I have now spent an obsessive amount of time thinking about it.
When I first began yoga, I practiced to Yoga With Adriene. I will always stand behind her and all that she does so if you haven’t checked her out it is never too late to jump on that bandwagon! She is phenomenal! About a year ago she came out with a video called “Yoga for Gardeners” that I just love. The physical practice is to help relieve the tension in muscles that are often used while gardening, which is a practice I could use every weekend! But she offers a really lovely mental practice where she talks about the metaphorical gardener and how we are responsible to plant new seeds and give ourselves the nutrients to grow. This is such a beautiful way to look at self-care and self-development. Which is why I have recently been setting the intentions in my yoga classes as well as my personal practice to cultivate what you need. Or in other words, tend to your inner garden.
Weed the Garden
Just as is true in a real garden this can be the most tedious, tiring, never ending, and often passed over, step to cultivate your metaphorical garden. It is also one of the first steps. So, what do you weed in your metaphorical garden? Anything that can spread and hinder the growth of your own seeds. This could be negative thoughts, people, or memories. It could also be others’ expectations of you, or false expectations that you have put on yourself. I have found that a lot of times the weeds that grow are seeds that others have planted there. A negative response to my lifestyle, or a passing glance that was probably not intended for me. I will never forget the man who said, “Don’t quit your day job” about my singing when I was sixteen and aspired to be on Broadway. On that phrase blew in a seed that has taken years to rid from my garden. This happens all the time. Strangers, friends, and loved ones, plant seeds in our garden without asking. It is often not ill intentioned and maybe it isn’t a weed at all but a beautiful vine that eventually takes over? Take a minute to ask if their seed is maybe hindering your own. This job will never be done. There is always something. You must dig deep, get to the root of the problem and work it out. Sometimes you can’t get to the root and you just graze the top, that’s perfectly fine for a short-term solution. Just know that it will come back and when it does you will be ready for it.
Here is the fun part! It is your garden, so plant what you want to plant! You could have the same plant that you continue to nourish and grow. This could be a career plan, a talent, a relationship. It could be all three of those things! Nothing says if you plant flowers you can’t also plant vegetables. So same goes with your decisions. Nothing says that because you are a career woman, mom, and spouse that you can’t also be an artist. Nothing says that you have to be all of those things, if you want to focus on one path at one time, go for it. Plant the seeds that you want to grow. If you need a little garden planning to happen before planting, that is valid. But a word from experience on the planning front, as with real seeds if you keep them in their packet and never get them in the ground, they won’t grow and with time they will become less viable. Planning is needed, but planning is not planting. Also, nothing is impossible. I live in Minnesota which has a garden zone of 4b, what this means is that it is too cold for a lot of plants and we have a very short growing period. If I wanted to plant a palm tree in the ground here it would not survive. But if I were to create a greenhouse and cultivate the proper temperature and climate the palm tree would flourish. Same with your thoughts and plans. When you create the right environment, anything can grow.
Tend the Garden
Once you plant those seeds the job isn’t over. Water, sun, and sometimes a natural fertilizer are needed to help that seed grow. Same goes for the metaphorical garden. You need the right nutrients, environment, and care to grow. Let’s say you planted to seed to learn the piano, the thought itself is the seed still in a packet, access to a piano is planting the seed. If you stop there it will fizzle out and never take root. Learning to read sheet music is water. Practicing is sun. Finding a teacher when you have exhausted all your resources to be self-taught is a natural fertilizer. There are steps to every process, every relationship, every plan. Sometimes skipping a step might be okay. It could be like a hearty Hosta where skipping the sun step is completely fine but, in my experience, if you forget to water you go back to planting. Every plant has different conditions that need to be met. You can’t always follow the same steps. Plant the seed, as it begins to grow watch it and see what it needs. If it begins to droop don’t rip it out of the ground, maybe try more water, or maybe it needs a structure to grow on. Never forget to take a look at your whole garden. Have you been so focused on one seed that you didn’t notice others are now overrun with weeds or just didn’t make it through? We have all been there. You didn’t do anything wrong, sometimes plants just don’t make it, or it wasn’t a priority. That doesn’t mean you can’t try again, maybe when conditions are better. Or maybe there is something that is flourishing that no longer brings you joy. It’s your garden rearrange it or get rid of it all together. You are in control of your garden, meaning you are in control of your life. Never forget that.
This whole thought process stemmed from a single notebook cover and a single word. I told you it was a little obsessive. But I am happy to have spent the time thinking about it. I have found a way to help me personally get through some things and truly cultivate what I need. You can take as little or as much from this as you would like. I choose to share in hopes that it maybe reaches somebody else, or if nothing else gives you a look into how I tick. Get rid of the things that you no longer need, cultivate the things that you want, and help yourself grow. Be free my little gardeners and see what flourishes.